Interview with Mock The Week’s Hugh Dennis

Hugh Dennis

The father of two children – Freddie and Meg – and a veteran of such comedy shows as Mock The Week and My Hero, Hugh Dennis was used to filming in front of a studio audience – but Outnumbered is much more intimate, with no live audience and no laughter track, especially important as there are lots of scenes where everyone is talking over each other.

What’s it like being back on set with Outnumbered?

Filming the series is always a very, very happy experience and for someone like me who, as a stand-up comedian is used to improvising, it is perfect. Andy and Guy are incredibly clever, which makes you feel very confident. We are sitting there with the cameras ready to roll, and Andy and Guy are over in the corner whispering to the children and you wonder what on earth they are up to – which means your reaction is completely spontaneous.

Do you identify with Pete at all?

I admit that as a parent I am a bit of a soft touch. I find my children very, very entertaining. I’d like to think I’m tougher than Pete, but I can’t be cross with my children, which is something my wife gets quite cross with me about!

Are Tyger, Dan and Ramona anything like your real children?

All children are similar in some ways and it is that sense of recognising your own kids in the Outnumbered children that has made the show so successful. My own children look a lot like me though!

So you recognise many of the scenarios in Outnumbered?

I do – the mum and dad do the classic thing that parents do – they try to present a united front, but in the heat of the moment, they find themselves going off on their own and then requiring the other one to support them, however ludicrous it might be. But what makes it really interesting is that there isn’t any obvious strain in their relationship. They’re clearly very happy as a couple. They might both be making terrible errors, but as neither of them are very judgmental, they’re not blaming each other. They’re in it together, but they’re both a bit rubbish – as are most parents in real life, which makes Outnumbered very realistic.

What does your character Pete gets up to in this new series?

This series sees more of the constant family firefighting as we lurch from one crisis to another, but underlying it as ever is the feeling that the kids are growing up; Karen has started secondary school, and Jake is now out until all hours. I feel that soon they won’t really want to spend that much time with their parents. My solution? To take Ben camping.

What was your favourite memory of shooting this series?

What entertained me most was the enormous amount of food that Dan now seems to consume… One of the first things you learn in filming is that if you’re in a scene where you have to eat something don’t eat much of it because when they move the cameras and shoot the scene from different angles – which they do again and again – you will have to eat the
same amount of food again and again. This didn’t bother Dan. In one scene he was eating an apple, and at the end of the morning I asked him how many apples he had eaten. He looked at me, smiled and said “8”.

Do you have one piece of advice each for Jake, Ben and Karen?

It would be the same for all three of them: “Calm down!”

Outnumbered is back on BBC on Wednesday 29th January at 9pm