Friday Night Dinner: OTB Meets Tom Rosenthal (Brief-Case Wanker’s NBF*)

It may be all over for The Inbetweeners (apart from a couple of ‘one-off’ specials and at least one movie of course..) but never fear! because Simon Bird is back with another cast of comic actors every bit as adept as the sex-obsessed lads from sixth-form. Tom Rosenthal has already made a promising career for himself as a stand-up comedian and in Robert Popper’s Friday Night Dinner he stars as Simon Bird’s brother. We talked to him about hanging out with the brief-case wanker, his famous dad (he is the son of legendary sports presenter Jim Rosenthal) and gigging the Edinburgh Festival..

Friday Night Dinner starts at 10pm on Friday 25th February on C4


Hi Tom. How the devil are you this afternoon?
Yeah all good mate and you?

Not bad at all Tom, not bad at all. So we’ve watched a couple of episodes of Friday Night Dinner. It looks awesome! Making it must have been a right laugh?
Yes! Obviously being new to the world of television it was very exciting for me having all these cameramen zooming about and all the rest of it and it was great having my own trailer with people cooking food for me every day. Very posh! But the process of making the show was also great, it’s such a fun and lively show.. we really started to develop a nice family atmosphere..

Family mealtimes ay? It’s comedy waiting to be written and speaking of which how good are Robert Popper’s scripts?
He’s a great writer. You could tell as soon as you read them that they would have this kind of stylistic pace to them, the dialogue is so bouncy. Now that it’s been edited and directed it’s so dynamic and the scripts reflect that. I think he’s made a really watchable show..

So what was it like working with Simon Bird then? Tell us he’s just the same person as Will from The Inbetweeners..
He’s a very funny man! I was the same as everyone else, I loved The Inbetweeners and it was great to work with him. He spent a lot of time teaching me about comedy the ways of comedy (laughs) we’d spend most lunch-times watching Seinfeld and we’d have little lessons every day… He’s just a very funny nice man..

Weren’t you tempted to call him briefcase wanker all the time on set?
I would never dream of calling him a briefcase wanker! To be fair everyone else seems to though, people were shouting that at him all the time when we were out and about, but I have to say he deals with it very well. There was this one gang of teenage girls following us around when we were out in town near the set.. Once we were in a Chinese restaurant and this crowd gathered outside within hours, unbelievably they wanted me to sign things just by proxy of being with Simon Bird. I signed one girl’s Blackberry! She had no idea who I was. He deals with it well. I would say there is a distinction between Will from Inbetweeners and Simon Bird – however it is not a large one.

Haha.. As we suspected. Now obviously you and Simon get a lot of the laughs in FND, but Tamsin Grieg and Paul Ritter put in great performances as your on-screen parents, but they seem like quite an odd couple..
It is completely based upon Robert’s family and his parents are very similar to those characters. They’re both strong characters, Paul’s character is a buffoon and pretty hilarious with it and Tamsin’s character plays a slightly different role, but I think the whole thing works well because we all work smoothly as a unit and the situations are quite realistic..

So are we going to be seeing a series?
Well I’m not really supposed to be speaking about a second series as nothing’s been confirmed. Obviously we’re hoping that the show will go down well…

And what about on a personal level? We hear you’ll be at the Edinburgh Festival again this year?
Yeah I’m doing my first hour-long show this year, which will be pretty nerve-racking as it’s a real acid test for stand-ups. I’ll also be auditioning for a few things but this show has been quite high pedigree and I don’t want to just take any offers going off the back of it. I want to try and keep the quality high… on the advice of Simon Bird who is a complete stickler for ‘only doing things that he really really wants to do’.

Now we know that your dad is the famous sports presenter Jim Rosenthal. Has he been sharing his opinion on the recent sexism scandal on Sky Sports?
Hahaha.. no I haven’t talked to him about it I’m afraid. I mean I don’t really want to incriminate him in any way.. I could give you my opinion?

Yeah go on then Tom, what do you reckon?
Of course I think sexism is bad and I think women can be linesmen.. or lineswomen I suppose.. I mean that lady must have gone through loads of tests to get to that position so to say she doesn’t know the offside rule is ridiculous. My mum knows the offside rule!

Yeah definitely! Me and my dad do test her all the time of course. We had a woman running the country for god sake so I definitely think that a woman can run the line!

Well the less said about that the better… But going back to your dad, was he heart-broken when you told him that you wanted to be comic rather than a sports presenter?
Yes there were tears in his eyes and he was on the verge of disowning me! No, of course not. Besides if I had tried to go into sports journalism I think that I’d have been forever in his shadow. He was in his element at the preview screening though! He was chatting to David Baddiel for ages, apparently the last time he saw him was in a Japanese sauna..


*New Best Friend..