There’s Something About Movies Interview: Tom Allen

Sky One’s hit comedy panel show There’s Something About Movies is back for its third season!

Alan Carr continues as host of the third series of the hit quiz, with Jennifer Saunders and Michael Sheen returning as team captains and Tom Allen back as a regular guest. They’ll be joined by loads of awesome showbiz guests, with Gemma Arteton, Jonathan Ross and Guz Khan ready to put their movie knowledge to the test in the first episode, available to stream from Wednesday 21 October via Sky One and NOW TV.

We had a chat with comedian Tom Allen to find about more about the show – and what’s in store for this series…

Hi Tom how are you?

Yeah I’m good thanks, all good how are you?

Not bad, but I’ve just been kneeling down and now I’ve got pins and needles.

Have you got a circulation issue or something?

I’ve no idea. It’s not ideal to be kneeling down.

Indeed… I wasn’t expecting this to start like this.

Nor me.  There’s probably a podcast in this you know?

Probably yes! There is in everything else. Get started on it, pins and needles yeah.

Cool, well we’re meant to be talking about There’s Something About Movies which is back, and god do we all need a good laugh!

Yes I’m so glad you said that, we have such fun making it and everyone was so excited to be back. It got made as soon as we were able to get back into a tv studio and we were all so thrilled to be there and it really comes across in the shows. We all shared what I think all the viewers will have, we all needed a laugh and a bit of joy in our lives. I honestly think this is the most camp fun I’ve ever had, anywhere, and I’ve met Joan Collins and it still wasn’t as camp as this.  I was once in a bomb scare with Torville and Dean and you know, this was still camper.

How long does it start to film an episode because surely you’re just pissing yourselves?

We do have a laugh, it was like… because we’d all been shacked up in our homes for so long each episode was a few hours I think! Obviously they cut it down so you’ve only got the gold there! I think it was just like being at a fabulous dinner party night after night. I must say the lineup they booked, I think because people were available, they were able to come and see us.  I don’t know many shows on television where you’ve got Joanna Lumley, Stephen Graham, Gemma Arterton sat there next to Jennifer Saunders, Michael Sheen… and we had all these fabulous comedians, every night was real fun, like a real party.  You know, sat there, next to Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley and Alan Carr would probably be for me, the gayest thing I’ve ever done and I’ve been on several dates with men and this was still gayer.  It’s certainly the campest show on television but it’s also about loving the movies and it taught me to love things I’ve not seen in ages like E.T., The Grinch, Alien, things I’ve not seen for so long.   It was such a scream.  

Joanna Lumley told this wonderful story about David Niven and how she went round to see him with some fish, and how Peter Sellers had a broken heart and she’d taken some fish to mend his broken heart. Only Joanna Lumley would have that experience! For me, Alan and I have a lot of fun repour, he likes making fun of me and I find it hilarious, he’s been such a hero of mine for such a long time. I’m horrible to him back, and give as good as we get in a very loving way. Alan is one of the most generous, kind people you will ever meet…. Sorry I’m just going off on one, do you have any questions? Do say.  

Tell us about the movie recreations!

Oh god yes they do throw money behind this show, especially with the film recreations.  We recreate moments from Alien. I mean, they recreate these proper film sets from the film and when we look back, if it wasn’t for my completely crap hammy camp acting, you’d think you are watching the film.   The way it’s done, the detail is amazing what they do. We did a zombie film, it looked so good.  My  favourite one was Frost Nixon, which I did with Rob Beckett and Michael Sheen which of course Michael was in originally.  Rob is Nixon in one and then Alan is dressed up as Frost and he looked the manager of a Bejam.  I have this comb-over wig on trying to be President Nixon with an American accent and I think I sounded more like Cher. Alan is doing an impression of Michael who is doing an impression of David Frost and he’s taking it very seriously and that just made us laugh more and more. It was so ridiculous, I generally can’t wait for people to see it.

Are there any films you haven’t yet recreated that you want to do?

I think for me, I like the serious, academic ones.  Like Amalie.   Or a thriller, whatever is serious. The more serious it is to recreate it becomes like Airplane, you know when you start spoofing things.  Being next to Jennifer Saunders who is the master of the movie spoof, you really are learning from the best.

Have any of the guests intimidated you? Like, you’ve got to do your thing and you’ve got Stephen Graham sat there.

He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.   We did interviews for BAFTA and I interviewed him and he is the loveliest guy and of course he looks so tough!  I remember him from tv when he was a kid and he always played these naughty people, or gangsters and he is the gentlest, kindest man and he really mucked in and told us all these stories and opened up.  I mean, there’s not really a chat show in the world that would have this mix and calibre of people on it, it’s amazing who we get and people are really open.  Stephen was telling us stories about being on the set of The Irishman and working with these amazing actors, he was in a scene with Al Pacino, and there’s a scene where they’re in prison and Pacino’s character has this ice cream and Stephen has to smash it out of his hand, and he said he didn’t tell anybody but he just smashed it out and afterwards… and I’m not doing this story any justice but wait til you hear Stephen tell it!  Rafe Spall tells an amazing story about Madonna. Actors love telling stories, our show gives them the environment to do that and everyone gets involved and I hope that comes across on screen.

Before you go, tell us about your book?

Ah thank you, yes it’s called No Shame and it’s out in November.  It’s stories I’ve always wanted to write up about being an eccentric teenager, being a weirdo and a bit strange.   There are stories about how in the long term, all of those moments contributed to me being able to do the job I do and feeling happy with myself. Everybody feels like an outsider sometimes and I hope it will make people laugh about their own moments.  I had a moment at school wear I dressed up as a Victorian, and I even dressed up as a butler and so I was always an unusual person and I continue to be and I hope anyone who reads it will feel less alone.

Fantastic and lastly, you’re doing The Apprentice Best Bits, Bake Off, so many great shows, is there anything you want to do and haven’t done yet?

As I find when I’m on this show sitting next to my heroes, I have to pinch myself, I am very lucky and very grateful, and to continue to do those things is such a privilege and I hope I do it justice. As long as I can keep doing that, being happy and busy. I find people interesting, I’ve always wanted to do a chat show of some kind because I always find people so interesting. Not so much about celebrity though, just interesting, quirky people.  If there’s one thing we’ve learnt this year, it’s that there’s plenty of those around!

Don’t miss There’s Something About Movies from Wednesday 21 October 2020. Pre-order Tom’s book, No Shame, here.