the version interview.... Jack Whitehall on Fresh Meat series 4.
The award-winning university comedy-drama Fresh Meat is back for a final term, with the prospect of the real world looming large for the student housemates.
In the fourth and final series, the end of University life is drawing closer and when JP’s (Jack Whitehall) brother pays an unexpected visit, it’s a wakeup call for all the housemates. JP is told it’s time to knuckle down as there’s a job waiting for him in the city. But is he made of the right stuff? Vod (Zawe Ashton) is wrestling with a debt that could sink a small Euro state, while Oregon (Charlotte Ritchie), now Student Union President, plans her legacy and bright shinny future. Kingsley (Joe Thomas), desperate to seem interesting, finds himself in an unconventional relationship, while Howard (Greg McHugh) is headed for a First Class degree, until some unexpected news sends him spiralling. And poor 2nd year Josie (Kimberley Nixon) faces the prospect of being without her friends next year.
Jack Whitehall tells us more...
This is the last series of Fresh Meat – how did that feel?
It was really exciting to be back together, but it was sad, it really felt like the end of something. But it’s a really great way for the show to bow out – I think it’s one of the strongest series we’ve made.
How do you feel about JP? Do you like him?
I’m going to miss playing JP a lot. He’s such a dickhead. It’s a brilliant opportunity for me to behave like a dickhead and get it out of my system. Now I’m not going to have that, maybe I’ll be more of a dickhead in real life.
The characters are in their final year at Uni. Is JP starting to worry about real life coming and intruding into his life? Is he going to get on with some work?
Yeah. His brother turns up and gives him a little bit of a ‘pull your socks up’ talking to. Then JP starts to worry about his life and what his destiny is – the whole series sees JP struggling to come to terms with what his future may hold.
Your own experience of university was a little bit shorter than most – did you enjoy it while you were there, or did you just not see the point of it?
I enjoyed the year I did in Manchester – I didn’t do long enough to get to this stage of it, where you leave and you worry about what you’re going to do next. You’ve got to go out and find a job – I certainly lived through that with all of my friends when they left. Most of them are now 28 and still unemployed, so I’m very much aware of how scary it can be for a graduate to leave university.
When you left university after a year, what was the reaction of your folks?
My parents were absolutely terrified when I told them I was leaving university to go on stage in pubs and nightclubs to tell strangers jokes about my life.
Did they try and dissuade you?
There were attempts at dissuasion and telling me I should go on and get a degree, but unfortunately I didn’t really listen to them. I think now my mum’s all right with it, but my dad still thinks I should have got a degree. He still thinks that at any moment this could all end, and I’ll need to find a proper job, and therefore the lack of my qualifications will be a massive hindrance. I still don’t think he’s forgiven me.
Which one of the Fresh Meat gang do you think is best equipped to succeed in the real world?
I think the most likely to succeed is probably Howard. He’ll get a job in coding, something in tech, maybe go over to Silicone Valley and become a multi-multi-millionaire. The others will just leach off him.
How was the last day on set?
The last day was pretty emotionally charged. There were a lot of tears. And then a lot of getting drunk. But not on set! We waited until we’d left set to get drunk! It was really sad. It was the end of an era.
What will you miss most about being in Fresh Meat?
I’ll miss being with the guys. Being with the cast. We were so close by the end. It almost felt as if we were best friends all living in a house together. So I’ll miss being with the cast. And also putting on a gilet. I quite liked wearing a gilet, and I’d never, ever wear one in real life. I’m too ashamed to be embracing my posh-ness, so I never get to wear a gilet. But when I get to wear one in character, it feels great. I feel like Tim Sherwood!
Do you think the experience of writing your own sitcom (Bad Education) has made you more appreciative of the craft?
Yeah, I think so. And I’ve learned so much about writing from Sam and Jesse and all of the writers on the show, because the quality of writing is so high, such a good standard. As an actor and a writer you learn so much from doing good scripts and reading good scripts.
Have you ever sought their advice?
Not so much advice, but watching the scripts go through stages of drafts and redrafts, you work out what they’re doing, and it’s really impressive to be a part of that process.
Are you going to keep on writing sitcoms?
Yeah, I definitely want to write more stuff.
If you could have written your own end for JP, how would you have liked to see him go out of Fresh Meat?
I don’t know. An orgy, I think. He wanted one in series three and it never happened. So I’d have liked him to get his wish – they would have all had an orgy. Maybe on a barge. That would be nice.