Trying Again. Image shows from L to R: Meg (Jo Joyner), Matt (Chris Addison). Copyright: Avalon Television
Trying Again

Trying Again

  • TV comedy drama
  • Sky Living
  • 2014
  • 8 episodes (1 series)

Sky Living comedy drama about a man whose fiancée has had an affair with her boss. Stars Chris Addison and Jo Joyner. Stars Chris Addison, Jo Joyner, Charles Edwards, Alun Cochrane, Elizabeth Berrington and more.

Chris Addison interview

Trying Again. Image shows from L to R: Meg (Jo Joyner), Matt (Chris Addison). Copyright: Avalon Television
Trying Again. Matt (Chris Addison). Copyright: Avalon Television

Chris Addison talks about his role in Trying Again:

Tell us about your character Matt...

Matt is Meg's boyfriend and works in the tourist information office in Kendal. They've been together for years, although they split up briefly when Meg had an ill-advised fling with one of the doctors at the GP surgery where she's a receptionist. He's entirely in love with her, they're soul mates... but they're in the middle of a sticky time.

She's gung-ho whereas Matt is quite careful. They're quite a good team; she would mend the boiler and he would do the cooking. He's always lived in Kendal with his sister Gail and she's a big part of the show.

Do you see much of yourself in Matt?

It's true that I couldn't mend a boiler and I'd rather do the cooking, but I'm probably less cautious than he is. I'm less likely to bite my tongue, too. There are bits of me in him. There's always a bit of yourself in any character you take on. Unless you're playing a dragon.

Matt wants to change that cautious side that he has. Do we see him evolve throughout the course of the series?

There are big changes for both Matt and Meg. He becomes more relaxed, and after that, less relaxed and happy. He certainly goes on a journey.

He tries to be the bigger man with Iain. How does that work out for him?

Matt hopes he and Meg have put something to bed by extending the hand of friendship to Iain. They do that because they have to; they live in a small town and Meg has to work with Iain. The real problem is that Matt is never completely certain that Meg isn't still in love, even a little bit, with Iain. Being friends with him is a way of making it clear that he and Meg are for keeps, but he still doesn't feel reassured.

Can you tell us how you and Simon Blackwell came up with the idea behind Trying Again?

We've wanted to do something together for years. We've worked together a lot on shows like The Thick Of It and Veep, and we've always got along very well. We literally sat in a room and thought about what we wanted to do. It took a while and we batted ideas around for a few weeks. We knew we wanted to write something warm, romantic and funny, sort of the opposite of what we'd been doing up to that point. You always see shows about a couple getting together or a young couple in the first flushes of love...

We wanted to make a series about the littleness of life and relationships with a big problem at the heart of it. When we realised it would be Meg that had the affair rather than Matt, it became very interesting. It's usually the male character that has the affair and viewers kind of know what to think or expect from that story. We've thrown a curveball. Once we decided on that, the project came together quite quickly.

Trying Again. Image shows from L to R: Meg (Jo Joyner), Matt (Chris Addison). Copyright: Avalon Television

How have you found creating a series for a female-skewed channel?

We haven't thought about it in those terms at all. Men and women tend to like a lot of the same things. Simon and I have spent years making political, harsh, satirical comedies, but we really wanted to make a show that was funny and lovely and about real lives. We wanted to create a romantic comedy that wasn't fluffy, but one that's grown-up and a bit more painful than the standard journey of boy meets girl. It fits really well with what Sky Living is doing.

So men will enjoy the series, too?

Absolutely. Two men created it and adore it. It's a show that we've had in our heads for a long time. It's a show for everyone, which is one of the things I love about it.

Why should Sky Living viewers tune in to Trying Again?

Trying Again is full of loveable characters, not just Matt and Meg. Simon's writing is exceptional. His comedy is like a watch: if you open it, you see how intricate and detailed every scene is. Our story has heart but it's not a simple one, it's complicated. Trying to nail the realness of the relationships and the comedy and then getting them to live together in harmony has been the most interesting part for me.

The couple end up moving in with Gail. What sort of host is she?

They stay with her for a couple of nights. She's a kind, lovely host and very good to her brother. She's straightforward and says what she means but she lives in a nightmare house, which is hard to cope with for someone who's a little bit OCD like Matt. She's a lovely but incompetent host.

What is your favourite quality about your on-screen other half?

I love that she's a fighter. That was one of the hardest qualities to cast. Meg has done something wrong but she's fighting for the relationship, not simpering and being all doe-eyed and terribly apologetic.

She's sparky, feisty and fiery. We saw some brilliant actresses in the audition but they were all quite sad, and then Jo came in and played Meg with a punch. That's what Matt finds attractive in Meg, too. It's very appealing to see someone who is their own person and completely comfortable with that. Matt also fears Meg is slightly out of his league.

They are suited in lots of ways, they share a sense of humour and have their own dynamic, like all the best relationships, but something he can't quite put to one side is the sneaking suspicion that he's punching above his weight. That's one of the reasons Iain is such a threat. He's suave, an impressive doctor and has a big house. He's more in Meg's league.

Do you have a favourite episode from the series?

They're all very funny, but Episode 3 is my personal favourite because we see the most of Matt and Meg's life together as a couple. There are some episodes when their paths take them on separate journeys. It's hard. It's like picking your favourite kid; you'd never admit which one you like the most, especially if it's not even one of your own.

Matt and Meg burst into a bit of beatboxing in Episode 2. Did it take a lot of practice?

That happened spontaneously - it's not in the script. I loved doing that scene because the house-buyer is played by Bob Golding who was Max in The Tweenies. More important than that, he did a brilliant one-man show about Eric Morecambe. Having him around added to the giddy feeling in the room. One of us randomly started beatboxing and we just ran with it, but it did take a while to get it right.

Trying Again. Matt (Chris Addison). Copyright: Avalon Television

Why was the Lake District chosen as a location?

So many sitcoms are set in London with characters in the publishing or advertising world, which feel very specific to a big city. We wanted to make it clear that this was as far away as possible from city life. Kendal is a normal town getting on with things and that's what I love about it. It's beautiful, but
it's not flooded with tourists.

The specific reason Kendal was chosen is that, when Simon and I first began talking about the series, I was on tour with my stand-up show and there's a fabulous venue there called the Brewery Arts Centre. I was exploring the town and it felt like the perfect setting. No one has done a comedy drama there before and it looks unique, too. The setting really added to the flavour of the show we wanted to make. We never wavered or considered anywhere else.

Matt works in the tourist office with Sam. What's their relationship like?

Sam and Matt are friends mainly because they work in the same place, but one of the things about small towns is that if you've lived there your whole life you know everyone. We researched Kendal and talked to locals and found that everyone sort of knows each other because there are only a couple of schools and one or two big employers. Especially in the era of social media, the community is really informed about each other's lives.

Sam is definitely a friend, he's part of their social circle, and although Matt might deny it, Sam is many of the things Matt wants to be. He's quite certain about his views and actions and he doesn't find life complicated. Life has a few rules, and he thinks if you stick to them, you'll be fine and have a good time. He doesn't find Matt's situation complex, he just thinks Matt should decide what he wants and get on with it. I think Matt would like to be as straightforward as Sam.

Do you have any favourite lines?

I love it when we first meet Martin and he says to Meg, "I'm super-duper, Meg, never sub-duper, you know me".

How have you found working with Sky?

It's been brilliant. It is putting a lot of faith, trust and investment into writers and actors. It's been phenomenal. The most artistically successfully TV company in the world is HBO and it does it by identifying somebody, like Armando Iannucci with Veep, asking them what they want to do, then giving them the space to assemble their team and do their stuff. That's how you create a great TV show and the joy has been that Sky does the exact same thing. You hardly ever come across experiences like this.

Can you sum up Trying Again in three words?

Grown-up romantic comedy.

Published: Tuesday 22nd April 2014

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