Dick Turpin Interview with Noel Fielding & Hugh Bonneville

Interview by Josh Wilding for ComicBookMovie.com

20th February 2024

The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin stars Noel Fielding (The Great British Bake Off) and Hugh Bonneville (Paddington) talk to us about their lead roles in the hilarious new Apple TV+ series…

In The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin, Dick Turpin (Noel Fielding) sets out on a journey of wildly absurd escapades when he’s made the reluctant leader of a band of outlaws – and tasked with outwitting corrupt lawman and self-appointed thief-taker Jonathan Wilde (Hugh Bonneville).

In this irreverent retelling set in the 18th century, Turpin is the most famous but least likely of highway robbers, whose success is defined mostly by his charm, showmanship and great hair. Together with his gang of lovable rogues, Turpin rides the highs and lows of his new endeavours, including a brush with celebrity, all whilst trying to escape the clutches of the thief-taker.

The six-episode first season will premiere globally with the first two episodes on Friday, March 1, followed by one new episode weekly through Friday, March 29, exclusively on Apple TV+.

Earlier this month, we caught up with Fielding (The IT CrowdThe Great British Bake Off) and Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Paddington) to discuss their respective roles as the warring highwayman and thief-taker in this uproariously funny new series (we’ve seen the entire thing and it’s brilliant).

Along the way, they talk to us about their characters, developing a unique dynamic as “frenemies,” and a whole lot of dick puns. Fielding and Bonneville also express their excitement to bring British comedy to a global audience with The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin, a show which also includes some pretty wild fantasy elements.

Check out the full interview in the player below.

I had so much fun with this series. Noel, at least initially, Dick isn’t exactly very good at what he does as a highwayman. What’s the fun of playing a character like that for you?

Noel: [Laughs] I sort of feel like if he was a good highwayman, it wouldn’t be very funny! We decided to make him quite inept and useless at being a highwayman. He can just about get by on his charm, his creative ideas, and his kindness. He can’t ride a horse. He can’t shoot a gun. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing [Laughs] and is way out of his depths. He’s a fish out of water but I feel like those things are good for comedy. If it was a drama, maybe I wouldn’t be sitting here. There would be someone else, a musclebound, handsome, lantern-jawed Hollywood star [Laughs]. For comedy, I think it’s okay if you’re rubbish!

Hugh, you’re playing a great villain here but he’s a little bit hapless at times as well. We see an interesting dynamic with Noel as well, so where was the fun for you in this particular role?

Hugh: Well, it’s deeply frustrating for Jonathan Wilde as his main ambition in life is to be a Bond villain and to scare the living daylights out of everyone. Unfortunately, the person he’s meant to be scaring doesn’t really notice, i.e. Dick Turpin. On the other hand, he’s also being completely undermined by his 12-year-old son slurping drinks in the background! His ambitions of ruling the underworld by being frightening are scuppered at every turn and that’s obviously a great comedic vein to tap.

And I have to ask, I know you’re a professional, but that scene with the endless “dick” puns…how do you get through that while keeping a straight face?

Hugh: I think the thing about character names is that they’re very important. You’re trying to extend dick as much as you can and, if you can handle dick, then I think it’s a great name and a great word. It doesn’t translate into every country in the same way but I’ve seen him play Dick –

Noel: I’m a classic dick.

Hugh: He’s a classic dick and it’s certainly one of the most interesting dicks I’ve ever seen.

Noel: [Laughs]

I think that might be the best interview answer I’ve ever had. Noel, I know you’re a producer on the project as well so of all the people to make up adventures for, why Dick Turpin?

Noel: I guess Robin Hood has been done. Actually, the production company said, ‘Would you like to play Dick Turpin?’ and I did want to play Dick Turpin. Also, Adam Ant’s “Prince Charming” was probably the first album that I’d bought, so I was a big fan of his and the way he’d turned Dick Turpin into a fashion icon and a dandy. That version of Dick Turpin loomed large in my psyche and knowing it was going to be a comedy, I just thought there was definitely something to do with Dick Turpin that hadn’t been done for a while. I know the Carry Ons did, but there’s not been a film recently and there hasn’t been a comedy show since then.

It felt like we could do something with this and then when Apple got involved, they were keen on the idea, and then when Hugh said yes to being the thief-taker, we just though, ‘This could be great.’ There are lots of characters in this show and the 18th Century is an interesting world. Asim Chaudhry plays a warlock. Joe Wilkinson is a jailer. Jessica Hynes is a witch. There are all these brilliant comedy people in it that we filled the world with. Something about period costumes and a frilly white blouse…

Hugh: Yeah, but really, front and centre is Noel’s dick. We should never lose sight of that.

Noel: [Laughs] Try not to lose sight of dick.

It is a phenomenal cast but I think people will love seeing you two together. Your characters clash, team up, and there’s the great sequence in the fight pit. What did you enjoy about working together to find those different dynamics as friends and enemies?

Hugh: It was fun actually. To take it back to those buddy movies of the 80s where someone is literally chained together and having to cross America – in our case, London – [was fun]. We were [handfcuffed] and did spend several days together. The fight sequence was really immersive and quite exciting to be part of.

Noel: Paul Kaye was brilliant in that. We also have quite a good double-act chemistry. Hugh is quite high status and I’m quite low status, so we work quite well together and that’s hard. You never know if that’s going to happen or not and it did. We were very lucky and had a good director as well. He was very good at making things look exciting and dramatic and action-packed, but also really good comedy.

Hugh, you have that great back-and-forth with Samuel Leakey as Christopher and we’ve never really seen that sort of father/son dynamic with the annoyance Jonathan has with being a single parent. What did you enjoy about that?

Hugh: Sam is great. He’s just a young lad but he’s got great comic instinct and funny bones. He doesn’t sell it too hard to the audience and that’s a genuine talent I think. He’s a nice lad as well because sometimes they’re not these ferocious kids. He’s actually delightful. Some of those comic beats, every parent will recognise the dynamic between the parent who is trying to do something serious – usually on Zoom with a work meeting and some kid prances in the background like that thing that went viral – and it’s very recognisable and relatable. It’s just fun, especially when you’ve got a dad who is trying to rule the underworld.

As you said Noel, there are some incredible British actors in the cast and with this going out on Apple TV+, they’re going to reach a global audience. How important is it to you both that British comedy can be highlighted like this?

Noel: I think it’s great. I feel like there’s a real sort of British feel to the show and there are so many great performers. Mark Heap, Tamsin Greig, Diane Morgan… there are so many good British comedians. There’s such an array of talent there, it will be difficult not to enjoy it because there are lots of different kinds of comedy in the mix. Asim is very physical and Mark is just brilliant at wordplay. There are all these different layers going on so I’m hoping people like it. You know sometimes you’ve got to appeal globally, maybe the best thing you can do is show what you do best in Britain and I feel like Britain does comedy really well with so many great comedians.

Hugh: I think the fact that, with the switch of a button, this can be seen in pretty much every country in the world is –

Noel: Frightening.

Hugh: – quite a strange concept which wasn’t around ten years ago. To have a global reach to show off British talent in this way is a great opportunity. Some people in our show haven’t had an international audience before so it may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but hopefully it will travel and show a different side of what we do.

Noel: You can’t think about it too much because if you write a joke and it’s a good joke, that’s one thing. Is it a global joke? I don’t know! [Laughs]

Hugh: I always think, and I think this is true in all walks of writing be it drama or comedy, if you’re specific and true to the world you’ve created, then hopefully an audience will recognise it.

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