BALANCE_MARCH_2020 - 60
CULTURE INTERVIEW IIIII
"IF I FEEL THAT
IT'S FUNNY, THEN I
KNOW IT'S FUNNY"
You know when you have it right in terms
of "the turn": playing one thing and then
the turn is flipping and playing another.
If you're doing multi-cam, I know exactly
where the cameras are. It's technical, but
you also know when you can do it better.
Usually, the first two takes are the best.
NM: I don't have the experience David
has, but it's the rhythm. You can feel
when something is right. Not just the
timing, but the whole package.
BALANCE spoke with writer/actor Nick Mohammed about his new
surveillance sitcom, Intelligence, and his co-star David Schwimmer
ick, you must be so pleased
to have your first television
series after all these years?
NM: I wake up every day and
I'm absolutely delighted. David and I first
met five years ago and have been talking
about doing something together, and
getting the right idea. It takes so long.
Even the edit took six months. I'm so
grateful for the opportunity.
David, in the history of comedy actors
such as Peter Sellers, Julie Walters and
Phil Silvers, BALANCE puts you in
that top bracket...
DS: I appreciate that! Thank you. Peter
Sellers is one of my favourites and has
definitely inspired me a lot. And all the
Monty Python guys and Dudley Moore.
In an age full of comedy dramas,
BALANCE loves that Intelligence is an
out-and-out comedy. Why did you
choose this format?
NM: Because I have a live comedy
background, I'm very wedded to the
search for a laugh and I probably get
a bit concerned whenever anything
gets too sort of "drama". I was only ever
intending to write something that was
What do you both do for balance?
NM: My wife and I play in an orchestra.
DS: Do you play together?
NM: Sometimes. It's how I proposed -
off the back of a piano duet. I printed out
a Beethoven symphony transcribed for
two pianos because I knew it was her
favourite. On the last page it said: "Will
you marry me?" Beat that, Schwimmer!
DS: I was going to say the same.
All episodes of Intelligence are on Sky
One now. Listen to David and Nick on
the BALANCE podcast
WORDS James Gill
Are you aware when you're making
comedy alchemy, David? To pick one
Friends scene, for example: when you
needed to pretend that Ross didn't like
the drink he was drinking in front of
Joey, even though we knew he loved it.
DS: What I can feel is what's funny. If
I feel that it's funny, then I know it's funny.
ID O N THE B
David, how much fun was it to play
your character, Jerry? On the surface
he's a bit of a douchebag, but we find
out there's more going on with him...
DS: I've always wanted to play this kind
of guy who, on paper, is really unlikeable.
If you list his qualities, it's pretty bad:
misogynistic, homophobic, narcissistic,
entitled, racist, power-hungry, alpha and,
as you say, a douche. We worked hard to
give him more humanity; it wasn't fun for
me to play at first. I felt like I was playing
one note. We kept working at finding the
humanity through the backstory.
Everything is a mask for him, because he
is hiding genuine pain. Once we
discovered that though, everything
seemed to fall into place.
NCE PO DCA
One of the strengths of Intelligence is
the excellent cast...
NM: It has to be an ensemble and it
was all deliberate to sell the idea of
GCHQ (Government Communications
Headquarters). As it's a real place, you
have to populate it with characters who
we can relate to in different ways.
Is it a bit like baseball, when you know
you've got hold of a home run?
DS: Yes, you know you've got a hit before
you see where it goes.
At the risk of hero worship, how did
you land an actor who can do the lot?
DS: Well, Nick's one of them!
NM: It's all been through collaboration
and it's such a treat to have David's wealth
of experience on my first TV series.
DS: We're both really lucky, and it has
been an incredible experience. From top
to bottom, there's no egos. Whoever has
the best idea - that's the winner.
Will the show run season after season?
NM: If we can.
DS: We'd love to.
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