OTB meets Threesome and Dr Who writer Tom MacRae

September 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

Series one of the acclaimed Threesome slipped onto our screens last October without a huge amount of publicity, it could be said, on the part of Comedy Central. Yet despite this, the comedy has gone on to develop a solid fanbase, earning itself a well-deserved second series in the process…

The formula of the show is simple: Take three friends- one couple and their gay flatmate. Sprinkle liberally with lots of drink and drugs, and then shake things up rigorously with one accidental intoxicated threesome. The result? One woman made pregnant by her gay flatmate, and one very awkward situation. Welcome to the world of Alice, Mitch and Ritchie.

The man behind the concept of the series is Tom MacRae, BAFTA nominated screenwriter, award winning children’s author, successful playwright and to cap it all a massive fan and occasional writer of Dr Who- an honour which has turned him into a ‘minor celebrity’ amongst fans of the long-standing British sci-fi show.

However, while he may already be well known within Time Lord circles, Tom is quickly being recognised for his mastery of the comedy genre, telling me: “I was in a club recently and this guy came up to me and asked me if I was Tom MacRae. I thought it was another Dr Who fan, but then he told me he loved Threesome! I’m amazed that he knew me from the show, but it made me realise that people really do love it if they recognise who I am.

“The show should not be taken literally, but it is based on lots of real life scenarios and people who have influenced me, and I guess I’m holding a mirror up to them as a collective. I took people who from the outside perspective have a very unconventional relationship and live in a slightly cheeky world, but to them it’s just their normal life. Then I threw the baby in and made these friends become a family, testing their ability to grow and mature and try to be responsible. When you’re still young and starting to get a bit older, you often think what sort of adult you are going to turn out to be. Threesome explores all of that in a really funny, fresh original way.”

The second helping of the comedy continues from where the first one left off, which saw Alice giving birth to Mitch’s baby. But while series one of the comedy covers roughly nine months of story time (the preconception, the conception and then the birth), series two takes part in a much shorter timescale, dealing with the weeks immediately after the birth.

Speaking to Tom, it’s easy to see how much he enjoys writing the show: “Our friends are still the people we know and love- they are still funny, and they still have the ability to take a household chore and turn it into a wonderful game. They also continue to make mistakes, but are not as irresponsible as last year and are taking their duties seriously. There’s a whole new level of things for them to screw up now they have the baby to look after.”

Tom was mentored by no other than Russell T Davies, with the Queer as Folk writer teaching him the skill of being ‘very warm and cheeky at the same time’. He’s also good friends with Guardian writer, gay activist and actor Charlie Condou, who spoke to Tom while he was writing about his unusual experience of parenting.

“We’ve not gone down the clichéd route of having the characters be so tired they’re like zombies, but focussed on them trying to find their feet as parents and the challenges that get thrown up in the process.,? says Tom.

“Richie has to go back to work, Alice is left on her own during the day, and attempts to make a new mum friend (which goes slightly wrong), and Mitch has to try to find a job which he realises he’s not qualified for so he attempts to get enough GCSEs. They’re just looking to be good parents and trying to be a bit more grown up, and that’s where the comedy is.?

Tom is a huge fan of American comedy, including Everybody Loves Raymond and Modern Family, which is talked about endlessly on set. This love of all things USA has seemingly rubbed off on the writer’s work, with the screenwriter referring to Threesome as a comedy that “is very much state side.” Like all good American comedy series, it’s also immediately accessible to newcomers, and viewers should not be scared off by not having seen season one.

But what’s next for the golden boy of British comedy, and is this the end for Threesome? Not on your nelly, says Tom: “I really hope to do a third series, and the producers and I have been discussing quite seriously what we’d do. It’s not commissioned or confirmed yet, but it’s very hopeful that we’ll do at least one more year- though of course it could run for many more years. As long as people want to keep watching and Comedy Central keeps putting it on our screens, then we’re going to keep doing it.”

The writer tells me that he is working on a new feature film, and will also script Dr Who again sometime in the future: “I don’t know when you’ll see it, but you definitely will,” he says.

Series two of Threesome is on Comedy Central on Monday 1 October at 9.30pm.