Chickens is a new Sky One comedy starring Inbetweeners Simon Bird, Joe Thomas and their writing mate Jonny Sweet.
It’s World War One and three chaps who have avoided conscription are spending the summer in rural England with a bevvy of Edwardian women and a lot of contempt from the locals.
Here’s the lowdown from Bird and Thomas.
Esquire: You filmed Chickens in the beautiful village of Finchingfield, in Essex.
Simon Bird: Apparently it’s the most photographed village in England. It really is stunning.
Joe Thomas: Yeah, it's so nice they can’t have Sky dishes, so they won’t be able to watch their own show. I don’t know how that’s going to work.
Esq: The humour is modern, even if the setting is not.
JT: We wanted to have modern humour. We also wanted characters that were like silly chums in a world where there was heaviness and darkness in the background.
We felt it could suit that modern dialogue where people get bugbears and go down little tangents instead of dealing with the big problem in front of them. They’re just three men that live in a little house together and get into petty disputes over things that don’t particularly matter.
Esq: The conceit is that you’re these three guys stuck in this village but then you have the pick of the women, in theory.
JT: In theory, yeah, exactly.
SB: But the women all hate us, is the issue.
JT: All the best men have gone but all the best women are still there. It’s really about the fact that they’re the only men that are there, but they’re really just completely disgraceful.
Esq: How did doing a period piece work out for you?
JT: It’s funny because we didn't think at all how expensive it was going to be and how much of a palaver. We just thought “well, we’ll do it in WWI, it’s fine” and I think Simon and I and Jonny had really come from a background of light comedy so we put it in WWI because in light comedy it doesn’t matter.
Having fixed on this historical setting we then spent all this time trying to almost battle [against it]. We had to try and keep it light and energetic.
Esq: How about your style?
JT: I haven’t got any facial hair in it because I can’t really grow it but it was actually quite a clean-shaven era. The cliché is lots of moustaches and things.
SB: What was it about beards?
JT: Beards went out after the First World War, because you couldn’t have them in the army because of your gas mask, so the war changed fashion.
SB: So beards became associated with scoundrels and cowards, so anybody who wanted to be respectable didn’t sort of have it for the next 20-30 years.
JT: Also the centre parting was apparently quite big. I would have assumed the side-parting but actually it was curtains, so it was actually a bit like the 90s. I had curtains when I 14.
All in all, we quite liked our clothes. Edwardian trousers are kind of high-waisted, which was good because we were all eating a bit too much.
Chickens starts on Sky One 22 August 9.30pm