Wednesday 18 September 2019

Toby Jones: We avoid mentioning Brexit in new comedy series

Don’t Forget The Driver does have political leanings, co-creator and leading star Toby Jones said.

Toby Jones’ new coach driving comedy won’t mention Brexit (Matt Crossick/PA)
Toby Jones’ new coach driving comedy won’t mention Brexit (Matt Crossick/PA)

By Emma Bowden, Press Association

Toby Jones has said that his new comedy series will not include the word Brexit, because he thinks viewers will “switch off” if they hear it.

Dark comedy Don’t Forget The Driver follows a group of people struggling with their identity in the seaside town of Bognor Regis.

Detectorists star Jones, who co-wrote the BBC Two series with creator Tim Crouch, plays main character Peter Green, a coach driver who takes his job very seriously.

Jones, who learnt to drive a coach for the role, said that although they wrote the script as a comedy, the setting of a coastal town meant that politics would inevitably play a role.

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Jones is joined in the show by Claire Rushbrook and Marcia Warren(BBC/Sister Pictures)

Jones said: “We were very keen to avoid using language that has been so overused that it has become emptied of significance. So you’ll never hear the ‘B’ word – Brexit.

“You won’t hear us saying migrant, you won’t hear the word refugee. We were very careful to avoid that, we wanted the action to speak for itself.

“These things are in the culture and they are happening right now – you don’t need to articulate it. As soon as you do articulate it, you can feel people switching off.

“I switch off when I think of it.”

He added: “It’s not political with a capital P, but politics does play a part in it.”

The six-part series is the first piece of writing for TV from Bafta winner Jones and playwright Crouch.

Crouch, who grew up in Bognor Regis, said he chose the town because of its seaside location, which he refers to as “our biggest border, in a way”.

He said: “I started taking coach trips with a firm based in Bognor – writing notes, taking photos. That’s how it all began – we wanted to follow the life of a driver through the daytrips he takes.”

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Jones’ character works for Bassett’s coaches and he “takes his job very seriously”, according to the actor (BBC/Sister Productions)

“And then June 2016 happened and the country voted to leave the European Union.

“We didn’t want to write about Brexit directly, but we wanted to introduce into the story some ideas around freedom of movement.

“Each episode has a nice rhythm, where we see the driver going out and coming back in again, but woven through this is a bigger story about belonging – to a family and to a country.”

Joining Jones in the cast is TV Bafta-nominated actress Claire Rushbrook (My Mad Fat Diary, No Offence), Olivier Award-winner Marcia Warren, who plays Jones’ mother Joy, and Game Of Thrones’ Danny Kirrane.

Erin Kellyman, who starred in the 2019 BBC adaptation of Les Miserables, plays Peter’s daughter Kayla.

Don’t Forget The Driver airs on BBC Two on Tuesday April 9.

PA Media

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