Your new pilot Up North
- in a few words, what is it about?
Dean: Basically, it's all about two neighbours who show us how society live in
the north of England, one family is posh and the other is common as muck. The
show is done in a fun way from taking the mickey out of Yorkshire people to
displaying how people survive in a modern day unemployed society.
How did the project fall together in the first place?
Dean: I first came to Steve Call with the idea last year when we were filming
a feature film called Tears in the Dust. Steve loved my script and said we
could film it once Tears in the Dust was finished. At first
originally just going to be a short film but Essex TV showed interest in it so
we turned it into a TV pilot and the rest is history!
Dean, what were your sources of inspiration when writing Up
North, and is any of this based on personal experience?
Dean: The inspiration came from a number of things. I am a big John
Sullivan fan, who wrote one of the best-loved British sitcoms, Only Fools
and Horses. The character of Richard Head played by the wonderful Ross
Marshall was based on Tony Angelino, the singer who has a speech impedimen
in Stage Fright, the episode of Only Fools and Horses when
Raquel and Tony perform Crying. I just thought I had to add someone like
that then give most of the cast character names being with R. I am a
people watcher so a lot of my inspiration came from this too watching how
society behaves up north and adding silly little things into each
character. The Olivia scene is based on personal experience, a few years
back when my daughter Rebecca was in school one of her friends came to our
house and I asked her what she was called she said "Olivia" and
I said "no you don't, I live here not you". Other humour is
elements of Morecambe and Wise and the TV series
people from 15 to 50.
Do talk about Up
North's brand of comedy for a bit, and how much was in the script
actually, how much conceived on the spot?
Dean: 99% of Up
was actually done from the script. Steve Call came up with the idea
for the Taxi driver to be called Patch and he was bloody awesome as the
taxi driver. We had such a laugh filming that scene and even threw in the
Young Frankenstein gag "didn't you use to have that on the other
side?" replacing the hump with a Patch.
Ha yes, to be honest we had a blast filming the whole show, that
particular scene came about because I had an operation
on my left eye three week early so it was still a bit red, so I thought
it would be funny if we had a one-eyed taxi driver. As you do. Ha Ha. We
had to do a few takes just because we couldn't stop laughing. To
be honest the on the spot stuff we kept coming up with would have made
can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
Well I hope I'm a kind, caring director. I've heard
so many horror stories regarding nightmare directors and how they
treat castmembers. Well fortunately that isn't me, my approach
is simple, try to bring out the best in your actors. Many actors react to scripts and stories differently especially
on set, they don't know how the director works, what his or her temperament
is, how does he or she want the character to be played. So my role isn't just being bossy on set, far
from it, I want the best out of my actors in every way possible. I know that he or she isn't sure of how
I'm going to react if they get it wrong, I know that some actors get nervous
so forget lines and I know that some are very self critical regarding
their performance. I have to take all this into account before
we even switch the cameras on, but it's not a problem, while we are
setting up the equipment I get the actors to read through
their part in the script, all the while I'm listening to how they
are playing or sounding like the character (yes directors can multi
task), I get them to repeat their part over and over out loud, until they
are comfortable with the script. Once I have set up the camera and sound I
will then read the part myself, but how I would like the character to be
played and sound and then ask them to do the same.
Dean and I would run over the script beforehand and work out how and what the character is
to be like and develop
that person. If they get it right first time then that is
brilliant but it's not always the case, so I have to coach the actor
to be like the character. I encourage the actors to bring their own
ideas too, simply because it's always good to encourage them as
actors to develop their skill more, it really is no good
shouting at actors because its counter-productive, we want great actors
in our productions so we support and encourage them to be more
confident in themselves.
One thing I do not do is show the reel back to
them, if they ask to see what they have just done it's a simple NO.
They are a couple of reasons for this, one is time and battery power and
the other is, if the actor sees him- or herself and doesn't think
they have done a good enough job (even though I've said it's
all good) they will want a re-shoot and the actor's confidence
drops. They start doubting their abilities and pulling themselves
down, not all actors do this but some do, so I have to preserve
their confidence, so if I say it's good it's good, if it's not then we
do it again with a little bit of coaching. On some projects we would have a rehearsal
day just to see how they react to their characters and then develop them
while filming, but with Up
North we already knew most of the actors
from past films we have done so we didn't really need
I have a clear vision on what and how the character
is to be portrayed so I build up my actors, encourage and
coach them to be like that person on the day. I am very focused on
the project at the time of shoot so I can deal with any issues that crop
up and deal with them there and then. It's ok to make mistakes none of us are perfect but sometimes
the only way to learn is to make mistakes, dust yourself down and
do it again. We have a great bunch of actors and we always have fun on
set, even when we mess up. A happy cast is a productive cast, so I try to
deal with any issues the actor may have with the script or character
they areplaying. We have a great team of actors, they all chip in
and help out where and when they can.
you also play one of the leads in Up
North, so what can you tell us about your character, what did you
draw upon to bring him to life, and did you write Mick with yourself in
Dean: He is a waste of space to be honest, a guy who
cares more about beer and his pet corn snake Popcorn than his family. He
does love his wife and kids but in his own silly way. I just based Mick
on real people. In the UK, unfortunately society in general looks down on
the unemployed people. It's wrong because most are looking for work and
hate relying on state benefits as their main source of income. Sadly some
don't want to work and milk the system and sadly Mick is one of them. He
has nightmares about working, haha! Yes I knew to play a character like
that, it would have to be me who plays him because I actually wrote all the
characters with the actors in mind. He is such an easy character to play
and totally different in every way to me as a person.
What was the collaboration between the two of you
actually like when making Up
North? And how did the two of you first meet even?
It was actually great. Steve and I are great friends and we do work very
well together. We have never fell out and we respect each other's ideas and
just make a great team. When I wrote the script for Up
North a couple of
the cast said it was too cheesy and over the top but Steve believed in me
and took on my project. We do have the same humour and I think this helps
when it comes to filming a project like Up
Steve: True yes, we do get on
pretty well, we tend to bounce ideas off each other, often we have
sorted out the next five episodes before we finished the first.
We spend hours on the phone just coming up with ideas and laughing
about the stuff we could put in, people have become to know us as
little and large, can't see why. But yeah we do make a good team.
I first met Dean on one of my early
features, I was very impressed with Dean's level of commitment and punctuality
and ability to act, so much so I cast him as lead actor in Tears in the
Dust and from that we just have become really great friends.
talk about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Ok, Carley Motley is an actress from Buxton
in the UK. She is fanatastic as Rosie, my on-screen wife and a really good
actress. Johleen Wakefield and Kuljit Singh play the Devi family and both
are really great at bringing more to the role and helping the characters
stand out more on screen. I first met Kuljit on A Total Thug
Up. This is
the first feature film Steve Call directed and it's also how I got to meet
Steve. All the cast were wonderful in their roles. Why these people? Great
question because a lot of them are good friends. Carley Motley, Johleen
Wakefield, Ross Marshall and Samantha Senior, I met all these great people
at the Yorkshire School of Acting in Sheffield. Steve Pollard, Andi
Hodgetts and Keiron Goodwin I met on the set of The Eschatrilogy: Book of
the Dead and William Marshall [William
Marshall interview - click here], I worked with Will on projects like
of Evil. The biggest name in the cast is Bernie Clifton. Bernie Clifton is
a British comedian and entertainer who is most famous for having an
ostrich called Oswald which he rides. This year he also appeared on the
fifth series of The Voice UK but failed to progress past the blind
auditions. You can see his performance here:
Dean, Bernie Clifton, Steve
can you tell us about your locations, and what was it like filming there?
When it came to filming most of the locations were filmed in Bolton upon
Dearne, South Yorkshire where I live. The kitchen scene for the Smith's
house was actually filmed in my kitchen and it was cool having many of the
cast around. I loved filming the Olivia scene with Carley Motley and
Jessica Bannon, it was so much fun. The home of Bev and Geoffrey Devi was a
locaion we got in Derbyshire thanks to Ross Marshall. We used his Mum and
Dad's house for free and are very grateful to them. The pub scenes were
filmed in one of the pubs in Bolton upon Dearne. Thanks to the lovely
Barbara Cassell who runs two pubs in the village where I live she let us
film in The Angel Hotel for free and we used her as an extra in a scene
with Bernie Clifton. Barbara is a huge help and I can't thank her enough.
Last year we filmed in her pub The Collingwood when we did Tears in the
Dust and she was also an extra in that one too! When I wrote Bernie
Clifton's part I called his character Colin Wood as a thank you to
Barbara. It was really weird filming in pubs I have been drinking in and I
hope it does help put my village on the map.
a great believer in doing things a bit different too, most
if not all the locations were for free, both Dean and I are overcomers,
if we can't get a particular location then we would find a way
round it and make it work. We have this ability to make the most
out of what we have got or can get. It's brilliant.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Every shoot was so much fun. My personal life has been pretty stressful so
filming was a real joy. During the shoots at times I could not keep a
straight face, especially the barbecue scene. The on-set atmosphere was
fantastic, we are like a close family and my screen wife Carley Motley is
one of my best friends on the acting scene, so it was a true blessing
working with her plus other wonderful actors and friends like Kuljit
Singh, Johleen Wakefield, Ross Marshall, Steve Pollard and William
Marshall. All the cast were amazing and I can't thank them enough for
North become a funny pilot.
the bbq scene, yes very funny, even when I was editing the show I couldn't
stop laughing, even the reaction from the cast as they where watching us
shoot it was too funny. My favourite scene.
$64-question of course, where can Up
North be seen?
North can be seen on Essex TV. It's available on demand now at
Anything you can tell us about
critical and audience reception of Up
Dean: Yes, so far it's been bloody
brilliant. Everyone seems to love the humour. I recently read a tweet from
Korean News saying "Up
North got us in tears."
been well received and all those who know me agree, it's my style
of humour so for me shooting Up
North is a privilege because we have
so much fun on set.
So what's there in store for
potential future episodes of Up
North, and any idea when more might be released? And other future
projects you'd like to share?
Dean: I have great ideas for
5 more episodes including a fishing and football episode already in draft.
Not sure yet, I am in talks with Essex TV
and hope we can start filming
more episodes very soon. Steve Call and I have a feature film out in
December which Steve wrote and directed called Tears in the Dust. I play
the lead role of Trevor Wallis, a guy who becomes homeless.
Feeling lucky ?
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Steve: Working with Dean on
Up North is pretty cool, because we have the same sense of
humour and I get to hear the great ideas for the shows. Although Dean
is the main writer I get to throw in some fun stuff also,
its great because both Dean and I laugh for hours about what
we could do. To be honest we could probably make ten episodes but
think we gonna stick with five for now I think.
One of the great things about the team is that we
have so many ideas for future projects we don't know which one
to choose first. All we can say for now is watch this space.
Your/your show's website,
Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you're dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Dean: Yes, Indy
the corn snake is available for work. He would be great in a horror movie.
Also if you want to have a barbecue this summer just ask Johleen
Wakefield for some great barbecue recipes, haha!
Steve: I would go
easy on the special sauce though, bit heavy on the stomach, oooof.
Patch ain't too good with that sort of thing, if you know what I mean.