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Brassic fans have had to wait a while to discover what’s next for the raucous gang.
Season 2 finished broadcasting in June 2020 – but despite the pandemic, production for season 3 was able to get under way not long after.
In a BT.com exclusive, we spoke to Irish actor Dylan Molony about working with Covid restrictions, how they manage to do so many driving scenes when most of the cast can’t drive, and *that* scene involving a bull…
Michelle Keegan: ‘I’m fighting to keep a straight face’ on Brassic season 3
‘None of the cast can drive’
Fans of Brassic will know that there are lots of driving scenes – after all, as anyone who’s lived in a small town or village will know, public transport is hard to come by.
However what they may not know is that most of the cast can’t drive, so the production team came up with a novel way to film.
Damien revealed: “We do a lot of driving scenes, so we get to drive through glorious Lancashire countryside. However, none of the cast apart from myself can drive. So, none of us are actually driving.
“We're on this little low trailer with no control of the steering wheel. The actors are constantly being reminded: ‘You have to make sure you wiggle the steering wheel a bit so it looks like you're driving!’”
Damien added some of the outdoor scenes can be particularly brutal to make.
“We have Jim’s farm, which is this wild farm on a hilltop - I think it might be in Burnley. It’s a wind farm covered in turbines. And when we're there, it’s normally three o'clock in the morning, normally lashing rain, normally freezing.
“So in those scenes, when the cameras aren't rolling we're always begging Joe to write us an episode in Marbella or the Costa del Sol - somewhere that's warm, somewhere we can go swimming but we're not filming. I think the scenes on Jim's farm are particularly hard days.”
But he added that making the show was far from miserable, particularly when it comes to some of the more eccentric scenes. In this series, there is one in particular scene involving bull semen…
“You can’t really top the bull thing, as much as we’ll try!” he giggled.
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“Reading it on the page a couple of months before we started filming, I sent our writer Danny Brocklehurst a picture message of a solitary tear rolling down my cheek from laughing. I just said: ‘Listen, I just read the scene with the bull’.
“And on set I was arguably even worse. I couldn't stop laughing, let alone keep a straight face. The guy who was in charge of the cannon that would fire all of this gunk all over us said: ‘Listen, we've only probably got one take because it's going to take so long to clean you up afterwards, you’ll be so covered with this stuff. We've only really got one take'.
“And I said: ‘I'm going to laugh. I don't know what to do, and I won't be able to stop laughing.’ So they said: ‘Just turn your head’.
“If you watch the scene, I think you see my head turned away from camera just for a few minutes while I just compose myself and then and then I'm able to go back. Very unprofessional! But it was just It was just so fun.”
Fans love to come and watch filming
Despite being in a pandemic, fans of the show would still come and watch filming, Damien revealed.
“We did have people to come and watch filming, which is always fun. It means that it has an element of live theatre about it because there are fans just around the corner filming us filming a TV show,” he laughed.
“It’s always lovely to be in a show that people love. I think when you're auditioning for something, you never really know how people are going to respond. For me, it was obvious that Brassic was very special just from reading the scripts. But you put all these characters together in these bizarre circumstances and the show just seems to work.
“We’ve never for a moment taking that for granted or taken our foot off the pedal in terms of trying to maintain the high comedy standards that we had originally set for ourselves. So it's always lovely being recognised for Brassic because hopefully it means that people have enjoyed it and you've done a good job.”
On mental health being a common theme
Damien said he was particularly proud of how amid all the chaos and comedy, Brassic has never been afraid to take on the theme of men’s mental health and show how the support of friends can be crucial.
In this series, fans will see Damien’s character Dylan fall into a dark place and it is Vinnie – played by creator Joe Gilgun - who helps him through it, rather than the other way around which has been the case in previous seasons.
*Warning: Season 1 spoiler ahead*
“Joe Gilgun, the show's creator, would be the first person to stick his hand up and say he has struggled with his mental health. So it was really great to bounce off Joe for a lot of that - calling him before we started filming and then on a day-to-day basis we would monitor it together,” Damien said.
“I think what's so great about Brassic is regardless of how much of a mess that Dylan is in and how much of a dark place you know he's in. He hasn't really recovered from from the bombshell in series one, that Michelle Keegan's character Erin has got rid of their baby. But he has these great mates to try and shake him out of it and to pull him out of it.
“That's what Brassic is and always has been about. I think his relationship with Vinnie goes from strength to strength as a result. There's a new-found respect. Normally it’s Dylan checking up on Vinnie. But very much so in series three it’s Vinnie checking up on Dylan.”
I brought my family to Manchester
Damien is grateful that he was able to pitch up with his family for the whole shoot to make lasting memories together in northern England.
“My family, small kids and stuff, we all moved up to Manchester for the whole shoot, which was an amazing experience for my young children and my family. So we got to go to some some wonderful places… Tatton Park and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which was a great outlet for us to kind of get some space and some kind of entertainment,” he said.
He admitted that restrictions made socialising off set a little more difficult at times.
“We started at the end of August 2020. So we got the tail end of Eat Out To Help Out in Manchester before everything shut down!” Damien said.
“I actually remember going for drinks with some of the cast on the first weekend that we were in Manchester. Even then, having our drink outside - this is so different to how we normally film, it's so different to our experience of Manchester normally.
“I guess we had no idea even then how restricted it would then become over the following weeks and months. We all have to be very, very careful. We were all tested twice a week and it was masks everywhere because I guess so much was at stake. People’s jobs were at stake, and also people's health.
“So we had to take the foot off the socialising pedal a little bit in order to get the show made which felt more important for series three. Any socialising we did do was in huge National Trust properties - huge open spaces where there was no risk of catching it or passing it on to anyone.”
But he said the team still managed to have a blast over the entire eight months it took for season 3 to be filmed.
“We kept going until the end of March 2021. It was an amazing eight months in Manchester. I think we all felt incredibly lucky and incredibly grateful to be working.
“We’re a very close gang, the Brassic cast and also the Brassic crew. We’ve had the same cast and crew from day one, series one. So I think after a lockdown and isolation and everyone being on their own and locked inside, everyone was just so happy to be back together as the Brassic family.
“And I think laughter brings everyone together anyway. I think if you're working on a comedy, whether it's being stuck in a car with a giant 12-foot python or getting covered in urine or worse, I guess a day on the Brassic set is always going to be a fun day. I suppose it never really feels like work. So we're all thrilled.”
And what could he say about the love triangle between Dylan, Erin and Vinnie?
“Is it Vinnie and Erin or Dylan and Erin? All I can say is, as long as true love wins the day then I'm a happy man. I'm a romantic at heart,” he laughed.
All episodes of Brassic season 3 are available on Sky Max and NOW from Wednesday, October 6.