Tom Davis and Kurupt FM on their new sitcom The Curse: ‘We’re at a time in history that will be remembered as the 80s’


Jthe Comic Relief 2020 crossover between Flea bag and normal people. This time Danny DeVito rocked on Friends as a stripper. Nike x Kanye West “Red October” Air Yeezy trainers, available for the hilarious price of £12,000.

Now, bidding to join the rarefied ranks of these iconic collaborations, comes The curse. Channel 4 sitcom about an ill-fated gold bullion heist fuses the writing and acting talents of the teams behind BBC Three’s hits Murder in Successville and people do nothing. Between them they have 10 hit series, two Baftas, a big-screen game, an aborted US remake, a six-night UK tour (currently) and a million Instagram followers.

Luckily, this 80s London criminal hug isn’t a case of two plus two equals, uh, one, in which the action falls between the stools and the “jokes” fall flat. In place, The curse it’s funny to wear a wig, less Ocean 11 than “Puddle’s 4”, with the knockabout action moved from the Las Vegas Strip to an industrial area of ​​the East End. There’s also a darker dramatic undercurrent, not to mention a smarter-than-usual 80s soundtrack (Talking Heads, The Cure, The Jam).

The Kurupt FM gang are all here (well, except Asim Chaudhry, otherwise detained on Netflix’s Neil Gaiman adaptation, The sand man). Allan “Seapa” Mustafa plays the owner of a skint cafe, Hugo Chegwin is a dark-minded, aspiring gangster, and Steve Stamp is an insecure agent wearing a leather jacket. He’s the inside man of the heist, while the muscle is provided by their “ugly ape” pal from the pub, played by Tom Davis, co-creator of Murder in Successville and most recently known for BBC One King Gary. His creative partner James De Frond directs The curse.

“We met Tom about five years ago,” Mustafa begins. The last sighting of people do nothing writer/actor, 36, as unhappy as MC Grindah as he led the Kurupt team in 2021’s big-screen adventure big in japan, an end point (for now) for characters who started on homemade YouTube videos in 2010 and ended up with a Las Vegas transplant (along with other actors) that never made it past the pilot stage . “It was at a stupid TV event where we didn’t know anyone,” he continues. “But we started talking, and Tom has a background similar to ours: an untrained vibe, out of nowhere,” he continues of the former scaffolder. “So we hit it off straight away and had the same sense of humor.”

As Mustafa recounts, speaking on a shared zoom alongside Stamp, Davis and De Frond then broached an idea for a sitcom about a robbery. “And at the same time, Hugo had an idea for a heist of gold. I thought I should bring them to [join forces].”

‘That’s not true,’ Chegwin, 36, deadpan as he calls from the Croydon set Sneakerhead, a workplace sitcom he shoots for the Dave Comedy Channel with grime artist-turned-actor Big Zuu. “I had a *** idea about an ex-con in witness protection. And Seapa said, “Maybe we could discuss it with James and Tom.” So we did, and they had an amazing idea, so it was like, ‘Yeah, forget mine.’ But they were like, ‘Maybe we could develop this together.’ That’s where it comes from. I can’t take credit for the idea.

For Stamp, who did much of the heavy lifting on people do nothing screenwriter, especially for the film, it was a relief to abdicate some of that responsibility. “It was awesome, to be honest!” the 37-year-old beams. “It was so much easier to just be in the meetings and the riff, rather than having to focus on writing the best bits and trying to figure it out. [a story].

“It was a completely different setup for us, in the sense that it was James who was leading [it up]. He was like the father, he suppressed when necessary and took all the notes while we were all talking.

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Definitely guilty: Steve Stamp is the man inside the heist in ‘The Curse’

(Channel 4)

Even when zooming and on a separate phone call, the three-way people do nothing bants fly thick and fast. Davis, speaking via another Zoom, admits putting their Kurupt-ing personalities together was like putting cats together. “That energy that these guys have and what they bring to a show, their rowdiness, is one thing. But actually, what they demand from a show was inspirational, man.

I talk to Davis the day after the launch party to The curse, during which, he is happy to report, he maintained the sobriety he maintained after a particularly boozy spell during the European Football Championships last summer. This lifestyle change goes hand in hand with the work progression he wanted to achieve with this new show.

“I wanted to push myself to do something more,” he says. “[As with] alcohol, it’s all about growing up as a human being. It’s always about how you can grow both professionally and personally. Murder in Successville we did it for three years, and James and I were like ‘let’s move on’. And then you do Gary, but there’s a ceiling you hit with a character like that.

For the 42-year-old player, all in 1m80, the challenge was also to make his character in The curse, an ex-boxer, more than an adorable moron. “It’s always easy when you’re a big guy to make them thick or tough or tough with nothing. It is therefore a question of developing an empathetic nature [for] that kind of character. But it was almost a crux [sic] to bear-type thing. You will always be singled out.

Adorable Doofus: Tom Davis in ‘The Curse’

(Channel 4)

Equally important was The curseperiod setting. The early ’80s weren’t chosen for the easy wins of comedy, silly hair and fancy car phones. Well, not just for that. As Davis points out, “unfortunately, we are currently at a moment in history that will probably be remembered [economically] in a vein fairly close to the 80s. The gap between those who have and those who have not has widened massively.

As the narrative engine behind the laughs, he cites this “social injustice,” something he remembers from his own early days on the building sites. His father, he adds, was a laborer “who had been through two recessions. These were difficult times. So hopefully we’ve shed some light. The desperation of these characters is an important message to convey.

It also explains why more run-down corners of Liverpool replaced (largely subsequently regenerated) East London 40 years ago. Filming in the city last fall, the cast and crew worked under strict Covid protocols, although the production suffered two cases of infection among the cast, which cost two days of filming and reprogramming headaches, especially for set builders.

“Then one of the characters had a minor car accident on the way to Liverpool,” says Stamp. “And there were a few other dramas. Basically, we felt like we were cursed when we were filming.

It’s basically all Shakespeare!

Too fair, Mustafa nods vigorously. “One of the worst things that happened was because we have a relationship with Nando’s, we ordered a huge Nando’s for everyone on set – around 100 people. Everyone got their meal but they forgot mine: a double chicken wrap with halloumi, six wings and piri-piri fries. You can’t imagine the things we were going through! he jokes, getting all Grindah. “Then they ended up bring it to the set. I’m just sitting between takes, in a corner, eating it like a little wild child.

“It was the height of the curse!” Smiles stamp.

“They actually changed the name of the show on the call sheet to ‘The London Heist’,” Mustafa adds, “just because we didn’t want to say ‘The Curse’.”

Is it the same as theater people always referring to Macbeth as “The Scottish Play”?

“Exactly the same!” Boo Mustafa. “It’s basically all Shakespeare! Unless Shakespeare turns out to be a pedo or something.

For Chegwin, the change in direction of The curse and now Sneakerhead is only a good thing – although he admits he was “a bit apprehensive” about not working with his old pals on his own new show. people do nothing is not definitely over. As a musical act, they’re on tour this week, for one thing, and “never say never,” Mustafa says. But it was time for the four of them to breathe a little.

Back to the 80s: Hugo Chegwin in “The Curse”

(Channel 4)

“We only did one thing in the eyes of people who paid attention to our show, which isn’t that much,” Chegwin says, again tongue-in-cheek. “So we have to prove our worth and our worth, and see if we are versatile enough to do another show. Having done people do nothing for so long we really got into The curse, to hopefully make sure it has an impact like that. He sniffles. “Is this the right answer? »

Although Chaudhry is doing his own thing at the moment (he recently appeared in The Electric Life of Louis Wain alongside Benedict Cumberbatch), Stamp and Mustafa are also busy elsewhere. They are filming peacock, a new gym-based comedy for BBC Three, the channel that helped launch their television careers. As it relaunches this week as a terrestrial offering, what are their feelings for the future of the BBC under the boot of license fee killer (and culture secretary) Nadine Dorries MP?

“I think it’s devastating,” Stamp replies. “We owe so much to the fact that the BBC brought us in as untrained people having fun on YouTube, basically. They gave us the freedom to do what we wanted to do and make our voices heard. Is this environment still going to be allowed to exist? When you look at BBC Three’s charts in particular, it’s created some of the most amazing comedies of this generation – Flea bag, This country, people do nothing.”

As for peacock, it stars Mustafa as a somewhat outdated personal trainer (“another pathetic man”). Since Chegwin is half the man he was, as evidenced by the new physique he’s rocking into The cursewouldn’t he have been better suited for the role?

“Well, he was a little behind on losing weight – we already had Seapa by then,” Stamp admits with a hint of what could be sadness. “But Hugo suddenly got fit.”

“Well, don’t regret it!” Mustafa shouts, offended. But anyway, he adds, “he doesn’t have as much talent as me”.

‘The Curse’ starts at 10pm on Channel 4 tonight


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