Johnny Vegas on undertaking the coach trip from hell in cheeky comic whodunit Murder on the Blackpool Express
Johnny Vegas gets embroiled in a blood-soaked coach trip in Gold’s new comedy drama Murder on the Blackpool Express. The star-studded one-off whodunit sees Johnny play long-suffering coach driver Terry who, with tour guide Gemma (Sian Gibson), is trying to give their demanding mix of passengers a coach trip to remember. But when the tourists gradually start being bumped off, who is responsible?
Here, Johnny tells TV Times about boarding an ill-fated coach in Murder on the Blackpool Express...
TV Times: Can you sum up the show?
Johnny Vegas: “Gemma runs this down-at-heel coach company. It’s really their last chance trip to make some money and keep things afloat. But as they embark on this tour, strange things are afoot. They suddenly realise that these can’t just be accidents and that they might all be in danger. So Terry, who is suspicious from the start, takes charge.”
TVT: How would you describe Terry?
JV: “He’s an unambitious guy who’s had a lot of disappointments in his life but he has held a secret torch for Gemma for a while and there’s a lovely chemistry between them but he doesn’t think anything will come of it. But then what happens on the coach brings out the best in him so Gemma starts to see him in a different light…”
TVT: The cast is incredible, taking in everyone from Nigel Havers to Una Stubbs, what was it like working with them?
JV: “If you’d told me that one day I’d be sitting on a coach with Una and Nigel and all these other amazing people, I wouldn’t have believed it. I had to keep pinching myself. It was good seeing Sheila Reid from Benidorm again and Griff Rhys Jones was great fun. We couldn’t get through scenes for laughing even when we were standing over a beheaded corpse. Sian Gibson was the worst for laughing. But Nigel said, ‘I never corpse’, so I tried to look at him to stop myself giggling but he was crying with laughter too.”
TVT: Did you drive the coach for real?
JV: “No! Can you imagine the insurance? It would be like letting me drive around with the royal family in the back. We had a stand-in for the actual driving but in the bits where I was sitting there, I was wary of other coach drivers who will watch and think, ‘He’s never driven a bus before. What was he pressing there?!’”
TVT: What was it like filming in Blackpool?
JV: “Great. I used to go to Blackpool as a kid, when we had a car that was working, we’d always go to see the illuminations. But it was lovely filming in the Tower because I had never been up there before. That was another tick off the bucket list. I got to visit the Comedy Carpet too and see my quotes on it, which was really nice.”
TVT: Are you a fan of whodunits?
JV: “I do like a murder mystery and I was a massive fan of Columbo. My mum has always got something like CSI on. She’s addicted to them. We just went on holiday to Wales and I had a full week of Vera. But if I am watching something and I’m the smart Alec who guesses the villain, I tend to keep it to myself. I don’t like being wrong.”
TVT: You won't be in the next run of Benidorm as the Oracle. Will you miss being on the sunbed?
JV: “Yeah I will and I will miss the cast and the camaraderie. I have great friends in it like Elsie Kelly, who plays my lovely mum. I was busy with other things but if they decide that the Oracle has run his course, I’m philosophical about it.”
Murder on the Blackpool Express airs on Gold at 9.30pm on Saturday 11 November
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Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.
Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.
Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.
In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.