Steve Morris

Everyman

The actor talks to Steve Morris about his latest BBC role as a coach driver from Bognor Regis

Toby Jones shuffles into the café in Clapham where we are meeting. He’s wearing a duffle coat and a hat and carrying a rucksack. He looks just like one of those unsung characters that he specialises in, the kind of person you don’t take much notice of unless you have to.

Today we are talking about his new ‘vehicle’ (sorry), Don’t Forget the Driver. It’s an everyday tale of an everyday coach driver (Peter Green) from Bognor Regis, his daughter Kayla, who turns ennui into an artform, and mother Audrey, who’s going downhill fast with Alzheimer’s. It is going to twang the nation’s heartstrings.

What makes it different is that it is Jones’s first go at writing a TV comedy — or co-writing one. He’s teamed up with Tim Crouch with whom, it turns out, he shares a love of coaches and driving them.

Crouch began with two things he wanted to explore. ‘He comes from Bognor and loves the place. There’s a non-stop webcam on the pier and he goes and waves into it so his brother in Canada can see him. To begin with I wasn’t really interested in Bognor, but we were both fascinated by coach driving.’

Crouch and Jones took an interesting approach to research: day trips to Bognor featured heavily as did hanging out near the Butlin’s that dominates the town. And then there were a few booze-and-fag coach trips to northern France.

‘I realised how much hanging round there was and how the coach drivers felt threatened by the threat of fines if they brought back a stowaway.’

Armed with the trips and a new love for Bognor, Jones and Crouch fairly raced through the script. ‘We didn’t want to mention the “migrant” word or the “refugee”word or any of the usual words used; we wanted to write about a coach driver who gets out of his depth.

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