Spaced Out:
» home/news
» on your phone
» about Spaced
» » the future
» » convention 01
» » convention '02
» » buy spaced
» » s2 dvd
» » cast
» » » biogs
» » » ada/colin
» » » interviews
» » other projects
» » international
» » in the states
» » the music
» » s2 music
» » awards
» » what is Spaced?
» episode guides
» » series one
» » series two
» » » extras' diary
» » » ep guide
» frequently asked questions
» multimedia
» in the press
» screensavers
» links
» forum/chat
» about
» Search Spaced Out:
Spaced Out is run off donations. Click here to keep us going.
This page last updated:
About Spaced: Interviews: Edgar (Official)
20th May 2000
The Music

How did you get involved with Spaced?
I did my first TV work at the Paramount Comedy Channel in 1996. This is where I first worked with Jessica Stevenson briefly on a sketch show called “Mash & Peas”, starring Matt Lucas & David Walliams. The next show I worked on was “Asylum”, a kind of black comedy set in (wait for it) an asylum. This was co-written by me and David Walliams along with the cast which included (wait for it) Simon Pegg & Jessica Stevenson. They in turn had already done a sketch show together called “Six Pairs Of Pants” on TV’s Meridian.
“Asylum” was a very low budget show, but it was weird and heavily stylised and it all came together pretty well. And Simon & Jess themselves were so good together, that it was suggested by Paramount that they should develop their own sitcom. This obviously was SPACED. So as far back as 1997 when S&J wrote the first script, they had asked me to direct. This worked out very well, as I was able to chip in from an early stage.

What would you say sets Spaced apart from other (less successful) comedies?
Well, we set out to do something different with SPACED. I wouldn’t want to slag off other programmes, as I know how hard it is to make a comedy show. That said I’m pleased that the show has been seen as a response of sorts to flatcoms like ‘Babes In The Wood’ and ‘Game On’ (or Janus-coms). Obviously the lack of studio or laughter track helps this.
In terms of the film & tv reference, these were a collective vision, as all three of us like to present the mundanities of life in a cinematic style. Simon is also very influenced by “The Simpsons” and it’s quickfire visual humour, while Jess was very keen to present a realistic view of twentysomethings. I, on the other hand, wanted to rip off as many horror films as possible and put some cool shots on my showreel....That last bit was a joke. In that it’s funny because it’s true.

What are your feelings about SPACED's recent nominations for the British Comedy Awards?
Great. It’s good to be right up there with “Dinnerladies”. No, it’s really nice to be recognised. I really hope Simon & Jess get their respective gongs, but I don’t think we’ll get Best Sitcom - that’s a dead cert for “The Royle Family”. The one bonus about us not winning Best Sitcom is that I can get pissed without fear of having to get on stage.

What direction do you see Spaced going in the future?
More fights.

Creatively, how does producing Spaced work? As Simon and Jess actually wrote the script, do they influence your directing - or visa versa - do you influence the script?
Bit of both really. They asked me to do, because they liked the visual style of “ASYLUM”. But at every stage of making SPACED I would suggest things to them, just as they would to me. Also they knew I was on the same wavelength, so if they wrote a zombie or paintball or clubbing sequence, they trusted me to come up with the goods.
It was a very organic process making the show - to the point where roles become so intertwined that I would be thinking up verbal gags, just as they would visual ones.

Which is the worst aspect of filming Spaced?
Getting all the shots I needed in a limited time. Some days we shot so many camera angles - I think the record was 73 set-ups in one day. Conventional wisdom says you shouldn’t ‘shoot the shit’ out of comedy for risk of tiring out the performers, but SPACED demanded a much more filmic look to distinguish it. Luckily the cast and crew were as up for it as I was.

Which is the best?
I love editing. It’s equally intensive as filming, for me anyway. But you can create so much in the edit suite, even new jokes and layers, especially as far as sound effects and music go. I even loved doing all the trailers.

If there is one thing you could change about SPACED, what would it be?
Nothing drastic though. Erm, well there were a few scenes here and there that I would pace up a bit. I’m quite a perfectionist, so they are minor details that only I would notice.

How would you describe Spaced in three words?
A situation comedy

Was the visual concept already there when you became involved in the project? In other words, were you brought in because you were the person who could make it a reality? Or was the direction style all yours from the start?
Were any scenes written later, as a result of an ideas you had?
I think I answered this in the above question, but yes, Simon & Jess had always set out to do a show which was visually different. That they thought I was the man for the job was really cool. The scripts were already very ambitious in the first draft stage and I didn’t want to be the one to let them down. Because we had worked together before, we were aware of each others talents and so we all egged each other on.
However I would like to think that if I had not directed SPACED there would have been a noticeable lack of whip pans and Sam Raimi cast offs. I think my style is becoming a mite predictable, though. A friend of mine has started to call me Whip Pan Wright.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?
After the second series of Spaced - I’d love to do a film

What is your favourite site on the web?
I like Aint It Cool News, the film gossip page, although Harry Knowles falls over himself to find merit in everything, Godzilla and Phantom Menace included. I also just found the Onion page - which is great.

Did you always want to become a director?
No I used to want to be an animator when I was about fourteen - then I saw Jonathon Ross’s “Incredibly Strange Film Show” about Sam Raimi and decided otherwise. Prior to that I wanted to write for comics also and prior even to that I wanted to be an actor. Well, I say actor, in reality when I was five years old I really wanted to be Han Solo. Or failing that Colt Seavers.

What other programmes do you like on TV?
UK : Brass Eye, The Day Today, Patridge, Royle Family, Father Ted. Going back I’d add early Vic & Bob (Big Night Out), Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, The Young Ones, Python.
US : The Simpsons, Futurama, Larry Sanders, Seinfeld, Letterman, South Park (when it’s on form)

Whose TV job would you like?
I would have loved to have directed an episode of The Goodies.

Who do you find sexy on TV?
Ooh - erm, how about Miss Jessica Stevenson? And Simon for that matter. But only in his Hippies wig.

Who do you find totally unattractive?
Well Calista Flockhart used to be attractive but she now she seems to only be visible on a widescreen setting

How will you be celebrating the millennium?
I have no idea - I have this terrible fear that wherever I am, I’ll want to be somewhere else.

What is your first memory of TV?
Tom Baker era Dr Who - maybe “Robots Of Death” , Mud on Top Of The Pops and and episode of SPACE 1999 called the “Dragons Lair” which had this tentacled monster in it that freaked me out.

What would you change if you were world leader?
I would make The Paramount Comedy Channel bring back the triple bill of Seinfeld, Larry Sanders and David Letterman.

Who is your favourite author? Why?
Elmore Leonard - because he can make the sharp funny stories from the most insignificant crimes.

What is your pet hate?
Sequels that irrevocably taint the memory of the original. That means you, ‘Halloween II”

What do you love above all else?
My lady love and Jackie Chan. I can only choose one? Okay then, watching Jackie Chan with my lady love.

What, do you think, is the world's greatest injustice?
That Robin Williams won best supporting actor over Burt Reynolds at the Oscars. And that great films like ‘Bottle Rocket’ “Freeway” and ‘Waiting For Guffman’ were not released at the cinema in the Uk. Oh and that Letterman was axed from The Paramount Comedy.... oh I’ve covered that.

Which technology has made your life the most easy?
The dreaded mobile - of ear cancer fame.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which one luxury could you not do without?
A VHS copy of ‘Six Days, Seven Nights’

Which nationality do you admire the most? Why?
The pygmies. Because hopefully they would help me off this desert island

What is your life ambition/or have you already achieved it?
Well my life ambition was to have made a film and had it reviewed in a big film encyclopedia. I’ve half-achieved this with my no-budget debut “Fistful Of Fingers” having appeared in Halliwells and The Time Out Film Guide. However my new ambition is to make a film which gets into the American film encyclopedias, namely the Leonard Maltins Film Guide. If I do it’ll be sods law that he’ll slag it off.
Incidentally in Halliwells - “Fistful Of Fingers” is listed next to Sergio Leone’s “Fistful Of Dynamite” and gets one more star in the ratings. Which is nice, but bollocks frankly.

What is the secret to a happy life?
Enjoying your work

What would you most like to change about yourself?
The fact that I have man-tits.

Other than those in the SPACED cast, who is your favourite British comedian?
Currently Sean Lock, Julian Barret & Noel Fielding

What qualities do you think a good director should have?
Energy, patience and some ideas.

Who do you think influenced your style of directing?
The Coen Brothers, Sam Raimi, John Woo, Martin Scoresese, Dario Argento, Woody Allen and the early work of Johns Landis and Carpenter.

What is the difference between film and TV show directing?
In terms of studio direction - very much so. In shows with a studio audience you have to keep it simple and think on your feet. In terms of SPACED which was single camera, I certainly tried to shoot it in a filmic manner, albeit with less time and money. However, sometimes having no money, means you are forced to be more inventive.

What is the most important aspect, do you think, of presenting comedy gags?
Usually it is to keep it simple, so the gag reads. But in terms of SPACED - it was to unify the gags and the visuals, making the two inseperable.

How does your job as Director of Spaced differ from other shows you have done?
Well I try to make a visual stamp on everything I do. Indeed the Alexei Sayle series was very similar in style to SPACED. The difference is that you can end up simply imposing your tricks on an already established format. Because SPACED was new and willfully unconventional - it gave me the first chance in ages (since ASYLUM in fact) to really let rip.

What tips have you for would-be directors?
Don’t go to film school. Do it yourself.

Copyright © Nick Lee 1999-2002.
Spaced is © Channel 4 Television.