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Friday 10th December 2021


Final day of Relativity series 4 (for the cast at least - the producer has to put it all together and we need to record a child doing some lines about poo mainly). It felt for a long time that this series might never happen or that the work on it would never end, so it’s a relief to have it all recorded. This was the first time all the cast would be in on the same day, but even now we didn’t quite all make it into the building at the same time. Tia who plays Holly had to leave at lunchtime and Emily who plays Chloe arrived as lunch ended. 
In any case, due to Covid restrictions, we couldn’t all be in the studio at the same time, even though one scene (in the entire series) had us all in it. We recorded some people’s lines separately. See if you can tell whose when you get to hear the show (we have no broadcast date as yet, but it won’t be until April at the earliest).
I was pretty zonked out all day - all the driving on top of the cold I’ve got, has taken its toll and I mainly sat in a bit of a daze. I guess it might be the last time we’re all together. I have not left any cliff-hanger at the end of this series and Phil commented that it felt like I’d wrapped things up. Everyone is keen to do more and the actors were particularly complimentary about the scripts today, but I don’t know if I have another series in me, even if Radio 4 wants one. It’s nice that series 3 is getting a repeat at 6.30pm on Thursdays (which seems like a better slot for us than the morning time one we go out in), but as with nearly everything I do this series remains a closely guarded secret. I like the fact that it is family-friendly enough to go out on Radio 4, but that it also has a bit of unexpected edge to it. 
I guess because I play the jack ass in so much of my comedy that people tend not to look for the hidden depths in any of my work, but it’s there in pretty much all of it and I just trust that the audience is smart enough to spot it (rather than telling them why it’s clever so that stupid people can spot it, like some comedians). This series, partly by design but partly due to actor availability, is about the disconnect in family that we all suffered during lockdown. Even when family members are together they are kept apart and of course there’s the ultimate disconnect of my character and one of his body parts (you’ll never guess which). Oh, I’ve just explained it to you. The thing is I am so clever that no one is clever enough to understand why I am so clever. You have to be a bit thick to be seen as clever because you need enough people to recognise your cleverness. Which only happens if you’re not that clever.

I am pretty pleased with how the scripts turned out (though another six months to write them would have made them really solid- or would I have just done all the work in the last 4 weeks as usual anyway?) but it’s also a great boon to have such fantastic actors delivering this stuff. Alison and Phil are such huge stars, but very down to earth and fun to hang out with, but it’s such a thrill to hear them performing my words. And to perform alongside them. I finally don’t feel too intimidated by it any more, but I had a couple of emotive scenes with these actors in this series and it’s an amazing thing to happen. 
Last night I was working with puppets in my attic and today I am performing with some of our greatest actors. I am fortunate to be able to experience such variety in my job. Getting acclaim for work might be nice (I wouldn’t know!) but it’s not important. Talking to Chris Lynam really brought that home. He’s a man who has created work of daring and beauty and most people have no idea that any of it exists (and might just know him as the firework guy, but probably not even that), but that doesn’t detract from what he’s achieved in his life. In many ways it makes it more poignant and impressive. Maybe it’s better to be a well-kept secret. 
I fail at that too of course, as usual falling between two stools. But I appreciate how fortunate I am to have this charmed life where I get to make stuff that I think might be good and have enough people who agree to mean I can keep on trying stuff out. 
Fuck, I think I’m just relieved that the nightmare of Relativity series 4 is over. And as always, it ends with such a lovely experience of working with these fabulous people that I will forget how awful the period of May to October was.

There was quite a lot to pick up, but everyone worked efficiently and we were done by 4.30pm which meant I could get home in time for bath time with my real family. The drive home was challenging and I haven’t felt this tired in a car for a while and by the time I got home I was pretty much fit to collapse. Also I was starving. Covid means no snacks or jars of biscuits in the studio. Good for my diet, but bad for me managing to get home in one piece.

We’ve been watching Seinfeld on Netflix and are now deep into the classic episodes. It’s really interesting to see how it developed, found its feet and then became something incredibly special. I love the slow burn call backs that happen over series, like Jerry finding his dad’s wallet (not sure it logically makes sense, but it’s a fun reward for the dedicated fan). It’s very much of the 90s and even though it’s meant to show people behaving selfishly, some of it isn’t very politically correct to the modern ear, but it’s a great sitcom, with fabulous central performances (Julia Louis Dreyfus is the star of it for me, but everyone is great - even Seinfeld can almost act by season five, though can’t hide when he thinks a bit if especially funny). But also thirty years on it points up the deluded life of people in their thirties who think that they’ll always be young. Wasting months on relationships and ideas that are going nowhere, unaware that time is finite. How much time we squandered. 

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