By Ryan Berenz
Some comedy aficionados in America may recognize actor Simon Bird as awkward teen Will McKenzie on The Inbetweeners, which just finished a third season on BBC America. Bird earned two British Comedy Awards and was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for that series. But recognition comes with the price of people shouting “briefcase wanker!” at him on the street. “I still get that. I got it earlier today,” Bird tells us.
Fans of Inbetweeners definitely need to see Bird in BBC America’s new comedy, Friday Night Dinner, premiering Saturday, July 30, at 11:30pm ET/PT, as part of the network’s Saturday night Ministry of Laughs block. The series is centered around a Jewish family that reunites for dinner at home every Friday, and the cringe-worthy events that transpire during the evening. Bird plays Adam, kind of a twentysomething version of Will, who must endure a taunting younger brother (Tom Rosenthal), a hard-of-hearing father (Paul Ritter), a mother obsessed with MasterChef (Tamsin Greig) and a creepy neighbor obsessed with his mother (Mark Heap).
The childish pranks brothers Adam and Jonny play on each other fuel much of the comedy. “I think that’s probably the most original thing about Friday Night Dinner, is it really sort of nails that feeling when you come home, whatever age you are, you just revert to being immature and juvenile,” Bird says.
There are also plenty of embarrassing moments for the characters. Fortunately, Bird has some experience in that comic arena. “I think once you’ve acted in The Inbetweeners, your embarrassment threshold is so high, you can sort of do anything,” Bird says. “Really the stuff in Friday Night Dinner was a walk in the park.”
Photo: © Popper Pictures/Big Talk Productions 2011