The Version Interview... Rob Brydon on Sky Atlantic's The Trip to Spain

Director Michael Winterbottom brings the BAFTA Award-nominated series to Sky Atlantic, reuniting Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on a culinary coast-to-coast odyssey. Just as Don Quixote undertook three journeys, so Steve and Rob will set off on a third jaunt of their own, this time travelling over 1,000 miles down the entire length of Spain. Following in the footsteps of poet and novelist Laurie Lee, Steve and Rob’s semi-fictional alter-egos hit the road in search of culture, history, breathtaking vistas and, of course, some of the finest food in Europe. All the while serving up sparkling, free-flowing conversation, peppered with barbed back-andforths, in-car singalongs and their peerless trademark impersonations.

The pair also reflect on life; as two gentlemen just entering their 50s, they contemplate love, family, respective successes thus far (Steve was nominated for an Academy Award® for Philomena, you know) and what lies beyond. The result is a poignant but always convivial pilgrimage of selfdiscovery and the pursuit of the perfect Mick Jagger impersonation.

Here's what Rob Brydon had to say about it...

 

How easy a decision was it to make series three?

Very easy. No arms needed to be twisted. I like the fact that there’s a decent length of time in between each series so that we look older and perhaps a little more battered. I think that on its own is interesting.

 

Your character had a holiday romance in the previous series. How has he changed this time around?

He has settled down again. I think that was what a Tory politician would call ‘a moment of madness’.

 

How impressed are you with the way Michael Winterbottom makes the series look?

I am very impressed. We come in and do our thing but it’s very much his baby. He’s the one who decides where we’re going, which restaurants we go to and the broad themes that we’re going to talk about. But then we invent the majority of the dialogue, with the exception of the plot, which is needed to move the story on. But the bulk of the dialogue we improvise.

 

Is the series as enjoyable to make as it looks?

t’s probably harder work than it looks. I imagine that it looks like a jolly and on many levels, of course, it is, but equally there is pressure. You’re not just learning lines. Normally, in most acting jobs, even if you’re the lead in something, there are scenes in which you are not the main thing. But in this it’s basically us all the time. So there’s no sitting in your trailer for a whole day waiting, which in some ways is lovely, but in other ways, now and again, it’d be nice to have a break from it. You’re constantly in a state of trying to invent some fiction. Or a half truth, or find a truth and bend it a little bit to make it interesting. It was quite full-on. Physically we covered more distance than we did on either of the other two Trips. The Lake District was a very small area and series two branched out to Italy, but with this one we literally went from Santander all the way down to Málaga.

What does the series say about aging and being middle-aged?

I think that’s what it’s all about. The dying of the light, as Dylan Thomas said, because it is two men who are now in their early 50s. In series one, we were in our mid-40s and I would say that is perhaps when the decline begins. Somebody of 70 may scoff at this but I think Steve and I both feel that. We both feel the passing of the years and that is something we talk about. And even when we’re not talking about it I think it’s in the background. I think you’ll see it in subconscious ways. I wonder whether when we sit down there’s more of a sigh, or more of an appreciation of the chair. But there are lots of little things. That’s one of the main things that I’ve always loved about it – it’s that we’ve been doing this series at the ages that we are and the fact that time has passed in between doing them. Because if you look at the first series, we now look older and there’s not much you can do about that.

 

The Trip to Spain, 10pm, 6 April on Sky Atlantic