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TV Quickfire: Greg Davies on his new BBC comedy series The Cleaner

The Cleaner is a weird and wonderful comedy about an ordinary man with an extraordinary job. We found out more from writer and star, Greg Davies.

Undated BBC Handout Photo from The Cleaner. Pictured: Greg Davies as Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ TV Quickfire Davies. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/BBC/Studio Hamburg UK/Jonathan Browning. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ TV Quickfire Davies. WARNING: Use of this copyright image is subject to the terms of use of BBC Pictures' BBC Digital Picture Service. In particular, this image may only be published in print for editorial use during the publicity period (the weeks immediately leading up to and including the transmission week of the relevant programme or event and three review weeks following) for the purpose of publicising the programme, person or service pictured and provided the BBC and the copyright holder in the caption are credited. Any use of this image on the internet and other online communication services will require a separate prior agreement with BBC Pictures. For any other purpose whatsoever, including advertising and commercial prior written approval from the copyright holder will be required.
Georgia Humphreys

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THIS PROJECT THAT APPEALED TO YOU?

SHANE [Allen, the head of comedy at the BBC] rang me and said, "There's this strange show in Germany that I think you'd like, and we could get the rights for to do an English adaptation of it'. There are seven series of the original, all written by one woman, and he sent me them and I just loved it straight away.

I met the wonderful writer, Mizzi Meyer, and she was happy to let it go. So we took the premise of it, and I took some of her brilliant storylines as a basis for this first series, and then it was largely a total rewrite, because there are cultural differences, especially in humour, that just didn't translate across. I hoped it would be the laziest job I've ever done, where I would just steal everything, but in the end, it turned out to be quite a bit more root and branch than that.

DID YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM ANY OTHER SERIES?

I thought about a show called Mr Benn, from when I was a kid, where a character went to a costume shop, opened a cupboard, and then got lost in the world of whatever his costume was. There's something old fashioned about a comedy-drama like this, where there's only one constant character, and it's my character, and he goes on a different adventure every week and it's all wrapped up. So, there were comforting feelings from my youth that I felt watching it. But also, I think it lives in the modern world as well.

WHAT DID YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER, 'WICKY'?

He has had the same group of friends for 30 years, he goes to the same pub, and he has very simple needs, which I relate to; all of my best friends are friends I've had for a very long time. He's quite a straightforward guy, but then he has this extraordinary job; each week, he turns up to a new horrible bloodbath, and then by chance, he gets to meet people who were either involved in the crime or affected by it. He's also quite a moral man, and quite an opinionated man in many ways.

HOW DO YOU COPE WITH THE GORY SCENES?

Across the series, I started to get desensitised to it. There was one scene where there was a severed finger on the floor, and you stop seeing it as being extraordinary, which is the journey that Wicky has been on. The blood just very quickly fades into the background and becomes a background character, and you concentrate on the people that he meets.

HOW DID HELENA BONHAM CARTER END UP IN THE FIRST EPISODE?

I thought it was a practical joke at first. The fact that it's a bit crazy, it's a bit nuts, was what appealed to her, I think. It was just great fun.

HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW ABOUT YOUR BREAK-OUT ROLE AS MR GILBERT IN THE INBETWEENERS?

I was very lucky with that part. I met someone in the street today who asked me about The Inbetweeners; It's so strange, it's such a big part of my life, but I would say that all three series and both films, for me, were a month's work. But people love that show and I'm so proud to have been a little part of it. People really seem to like Mr Gilbert, and he did me a lot of favours.

:: The Cleaner will air weekly on BBC One from September 10. All episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer

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