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Welcome to the very first MBB-TU exclusive interview, with creator and writer of Men Behaving Badly, Simon Nye.

Interview Date: Sunday, September 9th, 2000
Kat Were the main characters totally fictional, or were they based upon people you know or have met in the past?
Simon I can honestly say they are totally fictional. They’re probably an amalgam of various aspects of my personality and the more laddish blokes I knew at London University, where I studied about 98 years ago.
Kat Do you know why series 6 is out only on DVD and when we can expect to have it on VHS?
Simon I don’t, I’m afraid. I earn hardly any money from the videos so I try not to think about them. Tell a lie, I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that it’s due out on video too.
Kat Do you have kids, and if so, what are their names and ages?
Simon Yes, I’ve got 3 - Wasp-Boy, Tarka and Kylie. No, actually Katya (5), Louis (4) and William (1). Katya learnt to swim today. Ahh.
Kat My favorite episode of MBB is "Performance". Which is yours?
Simon Oh, so you like the rude ones, do you. In general I like the 4th series best, particularly ‘Pornography’ and ‘In Bed With Dorothy’. But the later ‘Watching TV’ is probably my favorite because it took quite a lot of invention to do an episode in real time.
Kat What's your shoe size?
Simon 9, but I have planning application in for size 11.
Kat What's your favorite TV show?
Simon In no particular order: ‘I’m Alan Partridge’, ‘Friends’, ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet’, ‘Up Pompeii’, ‘Nuts In May’, ‘Mash’, ‘Larry Sanders’, ‘The Simpsons’....
Kat What's your favorite smell?
Simon The musky perfume worn by my sort-of-girlfriend Jean Parker in Horsham in 1974-6, possibly called “Musk”. If anyone can track a bottle and send it to me, I’d be grateful. And of course I like the smell of ‘Horn’, ‘Toss’ and Leslie Ash.
Kat What's the first thing you think of in the morning?
Simon When are those fucking kids going to stop their arsing screaming.
Kat What type was your first car?
Simon Do you really care? I had a Triumph TR-2, but that quietly rusted away and never worked. My first proper vehicle was an ex-Post Office Morris Minor van, which I bought because I thought I’d be shagging in the back a lot. In fact I was just used as a mini-bus by my friends, who probably shagged in the back a lot as I drove them around London.
Kat If you could meet any person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Simon My Dad (dead) or Kylie (alive).
Kat What's your Date of Birth?
Simon 29 July 1958
Kat Is the glass half empty or half full?
Simon Funnily enough, in the forthcoming MBB Book Of The Scripts I have recently written (about Series 2, episode 1): “I can’t say this episode still makes me laugh, but writers are a notoriously joyless bunch. Not only do we believe the glass is half empty, rather than half full, we also worry that it’s got a crack in it.” In fact, I am generally an optimist.
Kat Do you have an inspiring quote (either written by yourself or another)?
Simon “Don’t worry, be happy.” Although that would seem to be blindingly obvious.
Kat What's your favorite kind of music, and do you have any favorite bands?
Simon Now I’m in my 40s and a bit of an old fart I’m torn between trying to keep up with whoever’s cool, and throwing in the towel and just playing Dean Martin over and over. I play a weird mixture of CDs: old-fashioned musicals like “Guys And Dolls” (my camp side), Steven Sondheim musicals (great lyrics), Gene, Barenaked Ladies, Tori Amos, Frank Sinatra, Robbie Williams etc. I went through a phase of playing CDs of tropical rain falling. Very restful.
Kat What are your hobbies?
Simon Parenting. Collecting film posters. Eating to excess. Dieting.
Kat What made you want to become a writer?
Simon I just always knew it was what I wanted to do, although I didn’t really write anything until I was 24. It’s probably something to do with having a monstrous ego.
Kat What was your inspiration for MBB?
Simon I just felt men talking bollocks to each other was something I could write as well as anyone. I wrote MBB as a novel before the TV series, and the plot in the novel is basically: “2 best friends (Gary and Dermot) fall in love with the same woman (Deborah)...” which I felt would make a good story.
Kat When did you first start to write Men Behaving Badly?
Simon November 5 1984. I remember because I left a fireworks party early to start the novel. I wrote the first TV episode in about April 1990.
Kat Was there anything you wanted to put in an episode of Men Behaving Badly that the BBC/ITV wouldn't allow?
Simon The BBC has never objected to anything, as far as I can remember. We tend to censor ourselves (I was quite keen to do an episode about drugs but Beryl Vertue the producer warned me off it - probably rightly). Back in ITV days, when we were on before the watershed (9 p.m.), they were constantly on our backs about language. We ended up horse-trading, e.g. we said “We’ll cut out this ‘bugger’ and these two ‘bloodies’ if you’ll allow us these ‘bollocks’.”
Kat Who else was auditioned to play the parts for Gary, Tony, Dermot, Deborah and Dorothy?
Simon I gather it is unprofessional to mention actors who don’t get the part. Harry Enfield, Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey were all offered the part without auditioning. But we did audition lots of stunning-looking actresses for the Deborah part. I dribbled throughout.
Kat According to the BBC, there were ideas about an Men Behaving Badly film being made a while back. The question is, will there be a film made?
Simon We talked about a film after the end of series 5 (don’t ask me the year) and were offered money by Rank Films. But there was a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: I didn’t want to write a film script unless the actors were really committed to doing it, and the actors (or some of them) wanted to see a script before they would commit, so it all broke down.
Kat What made you decide that it was time to end Men Behaving Badly and was it your decision or the BBC's?
Simon It was mine. We were all getting a bit too old to do it, and I was running out of inspiration.
Kat Did you have any idea how successful the show would be
Simon No. But it was the first thing I wrote for TV so I was just glad to be allowed to make a TV show. You’re a bit of a lunatic if you think you can predict these things.
Kat Have you visited mbb-tu.co.uk - and if you did, what did you think?
Simon I have, belatedly, and it’s great. I was put off looking for MBB stuff on the net early on because writing comedy requires confidence and I was worried about being put off by reading chat like “Did you see the episode last night? Shit wasn’t it.” “Yes. I think Only Fools And Horses knocks the arse off it.”
Kat Why was the landlord of The Crown, Les, replaced by crazy Ken?
Simon I just thought I’d done as much I could with Les’s grossness, even though he was fantastic.
Kat How long did it take you to write an average episode of Men Behaving Badly?
Simon By series 4, when I knew what I was doing, I suppose I’d take three or four days to write the plot and a week to write the actual script. Though I have been known to get stuck and spend many days on the first scene.
Kat How long did it take to film an episode of Men Behaving Badly?
Simon A week. Typically a day to film some location footage, then five days rehearsal and a day in the studio.
Kat What was your favorite scene and episode, and who was your favorite Character from Men Behaving Badly?
Simon Favorite episode mentioned above. I’ve got a lot of affection for the scene in episode 1 of the 3rd series, with Gary in bed with Dorothy (the Eiffel Tower pops up) because it was the first time I felt in control of the characters. I like the scene with Tony and his girlfriend discussing pornography in ep 3 series 4, and the one when Tony loses his tooth, because it ended up just as I imagined it. I love all my characters. They are my children. Dorothy was especially good fun to write for.
Kat Did you have any alternative names for the MBB's characters, and if so what were they?
Simon No, though a review of the MBB novel pointed out that almost all the characters start with D or G, which is annoying and confusing (this is pre-Tony). Gary should have a more middle class name, really, like Jeremy or Rory. Tony was called Paul for a while.
Kat Were there any scenes, or events cut from the original scripts?
Simon Yes. See the forthcoming script book (out in a month or two) to read the scripts we started with before the rehearsal period. Generally we tried not to film anything that would be cut, so we timed how long the script would last and cut the script before going into the studio.
Kat What was it like working with Neil, Martin, Leslie, and Caroline?
Simon We had a great time, almost all the time. They are funny and bright so the challenge was always to not be dull when talking to them. We had one or two rows in the last couple of series, mainly about contractual things rather than to do with jokes or plots.
Kat A baffling question on the minds of all MBB fans - what are Deborah and Dorothy's surnames?
Simon I can never remember - I look on them as being surname-free, like Madonna and Sting. I think we had to come up with a nurse’s badge for Dorothy and ended up calling her Dorothy Gibson. Or was that Deborah’s surname? Why, have I contradicted myself in the scripts?
Kat Us MBB fans are a pedantic lot... Why is it that Gary could drive in the earlier episodes of MBB (such as "Bed" and "Infidelity") yet couldn't in the later episodes?
Simon Did I say he couldn’t drive, or is it just that the others owned the cars and did the driving? I know there are contradictions - I think in early episodes Gary had gone to university, but I forgot and did jokes later on about him lying about having gone to university.
Kat What made you decide to play a few cameo roles, and did you write them with yourself in mind?
Simon It was suggested - I think by Martin Dennis, our waggish director - that I’d be ideal playing a catatonic student, obviously because I looked stupid. I was torn between being offended and grateful for the chance to appear in a show. I am a truly terrible actor, as anyone who saw my postman in How Do You Want Me? will tell you.
Kat What was the atmosphere like during the filming of the last ever scenes of the show?
Simon Oh, as you’d imagine - nostalgic and occasionally sad. But there was little doubt in anyone’s mind (I think) that this was the right time to pull the plug, so that made it easier.
Kat Is it true that Martin Clunes proceeded to destroy the set while Neil threw cans of lager into the audience after the last ever scene was shot?
Simon I think the smashed-set-shock-horror-story was a made-up tabloid thing. Yes, I seem to remember Neil throwing cans of lager, but I was probably quite pissed myself so can’t remember very much.
Kat Out of all the comedies you have written, which is your favorite?
Simon Because MBB was such a hit I don’t feel as protective and therefore perhaps as loving towards it as towards various others. I loved doing Is It Legal? because the actors were gorgeous and lovely, and I think it had some great moments. And I think How Do You Want Me? is the best-written and most subtle of my comedies. Mind you Frank Stubbs Promotes was very satisfying and Leslie Sharp and Timothy Spall was fantastic. Can I get off the fence now please?
Kat Is there any chance in the world of there being another series of Men Behaving Badly?
Simon Only if we all need the money desperately in the near future. I’m pretty sure it would be a mistake, although I love writing and never say never.
Kat What will be coming up in the future?
Simon There has been some talk of doing an MBB musical, which I think would be a laugh, but I’m sure it’ll never happen. I hope people will enjoy the forthcoming script book, which features about 25 complete scripts, each prefaced by a few paragraphs by myself. For contractual/money reasons, I’m afraid there won’t be any pictures of the cast, but you know what they look like anyway... I personally am writing a movie or two and churning out some more hilarious TV, including my stunning vet blockbuster “Beast”.
Kat Do you have a message for all the MBB crazy fans out there?
Simon Thank you for loving the show. It’s so hard to get a comedy show on TV, let alone have a hit, that I am really amazed and very grateful for people’s enthusiasm.

I (Stuart) would like to thank Simon Nye firstly for agreeing to do this interview for us, for visiting our web site, and finally, for creating the best TV comedy of the nineties... Men Behaving Badly!

and... I'd like to thank Katherine for getting us this interview, without her this interview would probably never of happened...

MBB-TU would like to thank the following people for their contribution of questions to the interview...
(from Kat:) Geeby, Corry, and Kasia, (and from Stuart:) Tony

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  (Take me Back)