Sunday 22 October 2017

Evelyn Waugh adaptation 'an anarchic Downton Abbey', says Jack Whitehall

By Kerri-Ann Roper

The actor talks about working alongside Eva Longoria and David Suchet.

Jack Whitehall has described his latest television project as “an anarchic Downton Abbey”.

Jack, 28, will feature alongside Poirot star David Suchet and American actress Eva Longoria in the BBC One adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s satirical novel Decline And Fall.

Fresh Meat star Jack plays theology student Paul Pennyfeather, who, after being expelled from Oxford, takes a teaching job at a murky Welsh public school.

He told the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine: “We see the 1920s on screen a lot, but not with the wit this piece has.

“It’s like an anarchic Downton Abbey. The comedy is so sharp it feels modern, and its targets are still relevant. I think it really works for an audience now.”

Eva plays South American seductress Margot Beste-Chetwynde, the mother of a pupil at the school.

Jack recalled watching her in Desperate Housewives, the popular American show about a group of women living in Wisteria Lane, in which she played Gabrielle Solis.

“When she arrived on set none of us had any idea what she would be like. But she was so down to earth, saying hello to everyone, queuing up to get her food behind all the crew, and then sitting on the bus and eating it with everyone else.

“She wasn’t a diva in any way.”

The pair filmed a love scene which Eva said ended with her apologising to Jack.

She said: “The director wanted me to rip his top off in one go, so they put double-sided sticky tape on it instead of doing up the buttons.

“But the tape was stuck to his chest so when I tore it open half the hair came off his chest. He was screaming and I was saying, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry!’.”

Decline And Fall begins on BBC One on March 31 at 9pm

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