Some rare insight into Friday Night Dinner's sitcom siblings...
Simon Bird... By Tom Rosenthal.
1. Simon Bird is, depressingly, the best short-range thrower I have ever come across. I’ve lost far too many on-set games to count as he consistently found bin, bucket or basket with unerring ease
2. He gets undressed like a two-year-old. The costume girls reliably informed me that when they went into his trailer to retrieve his day’s costume, it would form the most incomprehensible pile, with all the clothes sort of inside each other.
After much pressing, it was finally revealed that, unlike normal human adults, Bird ends his working day by pulling his top and trousers off on in one unimaginable sartorial swoop.
Towards the conclusion of the shoot, I was lucky enough to be privy to one such magical manoeuvre; like a snake shedding its skin, with the speed of an Eastern European gymnast and the grace of an Eastern European football fan.
3. He’s properly blind. The plan was for Adam [Bird’s character in FND] not to wear the trademark Bird glasses (as you can tell from the family photos all around the Goodman household), but when it came to the first day of shooting the pilot, he gave a go at acting freestyle (glasses-less) and essentially broke down, maintaining that his comedy was all about seeing things.
This has led many to posit that Bird’s powers of comedy all derive in a Samsonesque manner from his spectacles, and that if he ever was to go bareback (glasses-less), it would all go to shit.
4. He’s a heavyweight intellectual. He constantly reads The New Yorker, and loves a quiz (Premier League statistics assessments being a favourite). He also started a PhD in philosophy that he didn’t finish on account of The Inbetweeners, leaving the world of philosophy in a turmoil it is yet to recover from.
5. Simon Bird loves bread.
Tom Rosenthal... By Simon Bird.
1. Dresses like a child. T-shirts with cartoon animals on them. Jogging bottoms. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he owned a pair of Heelys (a brand of trainers, popular with eight-year-old girls in 2010, which featured a stealth wheel under the heel).
2. Favours tropical chewing gum (mango, watermelon, that sort of thing) over the more traditional pepper/spearmint. This sums Tom up. Bold and adventurous, but ultimately misguided and wrong. While we’re on food, he hates cheese. Hates it. Refuses to eat cheese. Won’t eat anything with cheese in it. Is, he claims, “allergic” to cheese. I asked him, “What did you have for dinner last night?” Tom: “Cheese pizza from Domino’s”. So he’s a hypocrite as well.
3. Listens to dance music for pleasure. Actively enjoys it. No Velvet Underground for Tom. No Elliott Smith or Pulp. No need. Why bother when you can listen to DJ Skillz (or whatever) dropping his dope beats (I believe that’s the technical term).
4. Surprisingly good at Boggle. Although his tactics are questionable. His strategy involves writing down every combination of letters which he thinks might be, or sounds like it could be, a word in the English language and then claiming, when it turns out that “emyd” is in the dictionary that he honestly did know it meant “a rare species of freshwater tortoise”.
5. He’s weirdly moved by the plight of the North Koreans. Becomes quite emotional when you talk about it.
Friday Night Dinner returned to Channel 4 on 7 October.