When actors and friends David Tennant and Michael Sheen began fooling around on Zoom, the hit BBC sitcom ‘Staged’ started. We speak to their scene-stealing partners on the eve of season two,
In their own homes, not all primetime TV hits are shot by the show’s stars. 2020, however, was no ordinary year.
Productions were shut down during the pandemic and fallback solutions had to be sought – otherwise terrestrial timetables would have looked disturbingly bare already.
The surprise comedy hit of the summer was staged: in this playfully meta short-form sitcom, which aired in 15-minute snack episodes, top actors Michael Sheen and David Tennant played an exaggerated version of themselves, bickering and laughing as they sought to perfect the portrayal of the Six Characters of Luigi Pirandello in Search of an Author over Zoom. Sheen, 51, and Tennant, 49, became real-life best friends when they co-starred in Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, Amazon’s TV adaptation of the book.
However, in “Staged,” they are comedically depicted as frenemies – soft, buddy-buddy and collaborative, but hiding under the surface with some tough competition.
Their virtual partnership becomes more strained as the two grow hairier and sloppier – a soap opera that is addictive while giving a voyeuristic view into their interiors and domestic lives – with all the action evident through their webcams…. But it was the supporting cast that helped “Staged” achieve grandeur, pushing its director Simon Evans to dance around the fragile egos of the pair and place himself in the center of their feuds.
Steadfast producer Jo, played by Nina Sosanya, who proceeds to interrupt calls to scream at her sad, miffed PA.
And above all, Georgia Tennant and Anna Lundberg, the long-suffering spouses of the two leads, the real-life actresses. Georgia Tennant comes from Showbiz, the offspring of Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson.
At 36, she is an accomplished actress and producer who made her television debut at the age of 15 in Peak Work.
In 2008, she met David on Doctor Who when she played Jenny, the Timelord’s cloned daughter.
Lundberg, 26, of Sweden, meanwhile, is only in the early stages of her career.
Two years ago, she left drama school in New York, and “Staged” was her first big screen role. For nine years, the Tennants have been married, have five children and live in West London. The Lundberg-Sheens have been married for two years, have a young daughter, Lyra, and are living in South Wales outside Port Talbot. The two females have become firm friends on television and in real life and are still creating a stir. With Tennant and Lundberg, we had a video call to chat about prison life, wine intake, homeschooling (the two may be related) and the fuzzy line between truth and fiction…. Was it a major staged decision because it’s so personal and set in your homes? Georgia Tennant: We were always a very private pair.
We would never usually say yes to anything that was staged.
Suddenly, our whole house is on TV, so it’s a version of the relationship we’ve always kept secret.
But I guess that is the way you have to do it. Go for the other extreme. Only pull the band-aid off. Anna Lundberg: Michael quickly agreed we weren’t going to move into the building.
The fireplace in our kitchen is all you see. GT: We’ve got five kids, so it was just a matter of what room was available.
AL: It’s not the real us, however.
GT: While some people think it’s a documentary, what are the fictional parts of the show that people confuse with reality? GT: People think I really am a writer because a novel is published by “Georgia” in Staged. They asked where they could buy my book from.
AL: People worry about our elderly neighbor on the show who is hospitalized.
In real life, she doesn’t exist, but people have approached Michael at Tesco and asked if she’s all right. Michael and David disagree over who in Staged is first named.
AL: Michael’s name in Positive Omens was first for the US market and David’s name was first for the UK market.
Are we going to call you Georgia, Anna or Anna and Georgia? GT: In both. On these stuff, we are rather reserved. AL: Unlike other people. How well did you know each other before stage? GT: We were hardly acquainted with each other. We’ve got to work together now.