They had three seasons before calling it quits and were coaxed back for a feature film. That did so well that they agreed to do one more. But The Inbetweeners 2 is the final hurrah, according to Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley and Blake Harrison.
“I think this is the end, film, series, everything, I think we’re done,” Blake Harrison (Neil) told TV Tonight. “The writers have basically said they think they’re done. Ultimately it’s down to them and we also feel like we’re not going to top this. We’ve come all the way to Australia and the film feels bigger and better than it has done in the past.
“I don’t think we can top coming to Australia and doing it here. The response has been lovely, more than what we imagined it would be. So if we go out and this is the last thing The Inbetweeners do then we’re very happy about that.”
The sequel, filmed in Australia last December and January, saw the four Brits filming for 5 weeks on the Gold Coast, in Sydney, Byron Bay and the outback.
“To be honest most of it we enjoyed. It was all very varied, the outback is very different to Sydney and Byron Bay was totally unique,” said Joe Thomas (Simon).
“They all have their different points but we loved it. But you guys seem to be very competitive between cities and towns. One city hates every other city. But we’ve been everywhere and we just want to say you’re all great,” added James Buckley (Jay).
Their 2011 movie filmed in Crete followed 3 seasons of their E4 sitcom, grossing so much money it broke box office records for a British comedy. To top its success writers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley turned to Australia, depicting the boys holidaying backpacker-style.
“We don’t often get to film stuff ‘like’ for ‘like.’ We fake stuff,” said Joe Thomas. “When we were told we were filming in Australia we thought we might film in Brighton or on the side of a quarry so it looks sandy. So it’s kind of a bonus to be able to actually shoot this stuff for real and be here when it’s properly hot in summer. We just had such a great time.
“Both the films depict UK traditions. The first was a post-exam blow out where you go typically to some sort of neon resort in the Mediterranean and get totally out of your head. Well done, Britain.
“This is sort of a gap year, engaging with being a bit spiritual all of a sudden, wanting to find yourself going to songline ceremonies and that sort of thing.”
Their three seasons on television from 2008 – 2010, which screened in Australia on GO!, had been so popular a US adaptation was attempted by ABC but did not proceed. Despite the roaring success of the first film, it took three years to deliver the sequel.
“We went away and did other things and we didn’t think we’d do another film but it was a mixture of pressure from fans and receiving a genuinely excellent script from Iain and Damon that made us want to do it. So we did have a break, but it was funny how quickly we snapped back into our group dynamic,” Joe Thomas explained.
“As soon as we saw each other all the banter started again. It’s not really banter, it’s just sort of swearing.
“But we did feel like we’d had time away from each other so it was nice to see each other again. That was a big motivation for doing more.”
Despite its proliferation of crude jokes and schoolboy humour, The Inbetweeners works well because of the group dynamic. While they are ‘loveable losers’ there’s also an underlying class difference, established in the first episode when Will (Simon Bird) is forced to attend Rudge Park Comprehensive.
“We think it’s about the rapport,” said James Buckley. “Especially in this film they need each other. They work best together. At the beginning of the film they discover they are more miserable without each other which is nice. Up until then they’ve just been thrown together because they go to the same school and they fall into that same category of not being particularly cool and not being a massive nerd. So they by default they become friends.
“What’s nice about this film is they’ve actively (sought) each other’s companionship which is very touching. But there’s also a load of poo and business. So it’s a very good balance.”
Adhering to a long tradition of British comedy, there are jokes, bawdiness and physical comedy.
“There are a lot of big set pieces in the film which I suppose is slapstick, really. It’s quite old-fashioned really, and there’s a bawdiness as well,” Joe Thomas insists.
“Along with that there’s a lot of banter: the way they talk to each other.”
“I think the physical comedy comes second for us. First and foremost it’s about the script. That’s the thing that Iain and Damon spend months, almost a year, working on this film script,” said Simon Bird.
“We signed up to do this film because we saw that script with those jokes. The physical stuff we sort of add, almost on the day. There’s not much preparation or planning that goes into that.”
The Inbetweeners 2 takes aim at plenty of Australian stereotypes including Koalas, Kylie and Dannii and Queensland theme parks -complete with a roadtrip in a dodgy ‘Peter Andre’ inspired car.
“We all want to make people laugh. That’s the ethos behind the show and the films. You can go into depth with the characters but ultimately what’s important to us is, ‘Is it funny? Is it going to make people laugh?’” Buckley asked.
“That’s what we angst over. That’s what we care about. Other than that, we don’t really give a shit.”
The Inbetweeners 2 opens in cinemas on Thursday rated MA15+.