SUPER-sleuthing Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson are joined by a killer group of comedy greats in Dial M For Middlesbrough, the third outing of the Draper’s Tours franchise following Murder On The Blackpool Express and Death On The Tyne.
This time, Gemma (Gibson) and Terry (Vegas) are thrown into jeopardy when their coach breaks down following a fierce thunderstorm on their way to a funeral in Middlesbrough. They seek refuge at the mysterious Shady Creek Caravan Park which houses an eclectic mix of characters from site owners Evie (Sally Lindsay) and Jed (Phil Davis), to clumsy chef Susan (Joanna Page) and events manager Darren (Jason Donovan).
WHY DID THE FIRST TWO FILMS IN THIS SERIES STRIKE SUCH A CHORD?
J: It’s a terrific ensemble every year and it’s great writing, but there is also always the buzz of “who’s in the next one?”. It has a very wide appeal as well. It has what I call the ‘Bingo Factor’. If it’s discussed at the bingo by your mum and her friends, it’s a success. You also know it’s a hit when people from all generations stop you in the street to talk about it.
WHY DO VIEWERS LOVE TERRY AND GEMMA’S RELATIONSHIP?
J: Sian is an absolutely brilliant actress and we get on so well off-camera that it plays into what we do on-camera. We are playing it as straight as we can – Terry and Gemma are two normal people in ludicrous situations. We have perfected the bemused look to each other.
S: The beauty of these films is that while everything else is larger-than-life, Johnny and I try to play the truth of the situation. We are the Everymen.
SO WHERE DO WE FIND TERRY AT THE START OF DIAL M FOR MIDDLESBROUGH?
J: He’s in a very good place. At the end of the first film, he got the girl of his dreams. And at the end of the second film, she’s agreed to marry him. Now Terry is making all the wedding plans because he definitely needs it to happen! [Also] the hunt for the murderer is a big turn-on for Gemma. She likes to see Terry step to the fore and deal with things.
WHAT DOES GEMMA SEE IN TERRY?
J: What women see in me in real life – a project! Terry is the emotional equivalent of an Airfix model – “I’m going to gently dismantle and rebuild you in a way that makes both of us happy”. Terry and Gemma’s relationship has developed slowly – I don’t think Terry would stand a chance at speed dating with Gemma. They have worked together for a long time and she’s looking for someone who will really look after her, so when it happens, they know each other inside out.
S: They laugh at the same things, they have the same sense of humour and a real understanding of each other. It was a gradual falling in love, but he caught her attention at a time when she needed it. Also, Terry is so lovable. It’s easy to see why Gemma would fall for him.
JASON DONOVAN ALSO STARS IN THIS CHAPTER. HOW WAS THAT?
S: That’s the real reason I did this! We were all very starstruck. He’s gorgeous. When we were younger, he was a beautiful, exotic Australian hunk, and now we are all reliving our late teens. I’ve been telling all the mums at school about it, and I’ve never been so popular with the other mums!
:: Dial M For Middlesbrough screened on Gold on Saturday December 14 and may be available on catch-up via your TV provider.