'Thank you for laughing’, writer Ian Jarvis politely added at the end of the evening. This hardly seemed necessary as the screening of episodes 1 and 2 of his and Claire Downes’ new comedy The Job Lot received a loud and lively reception from the Roundhouse audience on Monday. But for the writers of this comedy, their television debut, seeing strangers laugh at their jokes was clearly something to behold. ‘It’s nice to hear a live audience’s reaction’, Jarvis continued, explaining that they rely on their instincts as to whether something will get a laugh.
|The panel take to the stage following the screening|
The Job Lot is the work of Jarvis, Downes and Stuart Lane, who was unable to join us due in China (some people will do anything to get out of public speaking!). The set-up is simple – the action takes place in a job centre housed in a suitably grey block of a building somewhere in the Midlands. The centre’s staff are made up of characters we all recognise from our own office experiences – the jobsworth who is a stickler for procedure, the over-enthusiastic (but verging on the edge) boss, the couldn’t-care-less young office worker. And who knows what characters might walk through those doors, which is exactly what Downes admits drew her to the setting.
Following the screening our chair for the evening, Andrew Collins, was joined on stage by writers Downes and Jarvis, producer Hannah Pescod and the show’s two stars, Sarah Hadland and Russell Tovey. Downes and Jarvis talked about their inspiration (‘The line about swimming the Channel at the local baths is from my sister’, joked Downes) and the process of getting the series commissioned. After an initial knockback from their first script (which they weren’t bitter about, quipped Jarvis), a second go grabbed the attention of a lot of the major players and so began the talks (plus the wining and dining). With Big Talk Productions track record in comedies (Spaced, Rev), they seemed the obvious choice but sitting on a script of such quality meant production companies were vying for their attention. Downes joked that it was Big Talk’s biscuits that ultimately won them over.
Andrew concluded the evening by asking the panel about the worst jobs they’d ever had. Tovey described life as a hairdressers’ junior washing old ladies’ wigs; Hadland spent two weeks as a magician’s assistant on a cruise ship (doesn’t sound so bad to us!); and Claire Downes earned £30 for two minutes spent provocatively draped over a tractor…. If that’s in her arsenal of inspiration then we can’t even begin to imagine what future episodes of The Job Lot might contain!
We still have limited tickets available for our next screening taking place at the Roundhouse, London NW1:
Run Monday 25 March
Premiere of Acme Film’s drama for Channel 4 and live Q&A with Olivia Colman
Information on how to purchase tickets can be found here.