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Picture the scene: In a remote cabin in the Highlands, an eclectic community gets together. A bubbling cauldron of trouble is their opposing personalities, driven to the edge with thinly veiled jibes, simmering rivalries and fragile relations.
It may be the story of an Agatha Christie novel or, in this case, the ideal setting for the BBC Scotland comedy series Two Doors Down for a Christmas special.
The gang swaps Latimer Crescent for a lavish getaway in the brand new episode as Colin and Cathy, played by Jonathan Watson and Doon Mackichan, learn that the corona virus pandemic is thwarting their plans for a Christmas vacation in Dubai.
Instead, they rent a plush cottage and invite Beth, Eric, Christine, Ian and Gordon, their friends and neighbors—Arabella Weir, Alex Norton, Elaine C. Smith, Jamie Quinn and Kieran Hodgson—to liven up the dreary Christmas and New Year season. What could go wrong, potentially?
Watson and Mackichan talk about their own Christmas traditions here, faux pas, and show which of the characters from Two Doors Down will invite them to the Christmas dinner table.
Have you had fun shooting a Christmas special?
Doon Mackichan: It was even more fun than normal because, after so long, we were all so thankful to be back together. It happened unexpectedly and was all on really short notice, which was wonderful, beginning with not knowing if the Christmas special was even going to happen.
Then there was the fear of “how are we going to do this?” and whether with people wearing masks and being socially distant it would be strange. Yet it’s been so well done. The protocol was strict, and all of us felt safe. It was great being together again.
Jonathan Watson: Filming this work is always enjoyable. Good actors and good scripts work for you. We do had a nice time – there was no exception to that. I’m so grateful to be working on all that’s happened this year. I stand in a lucky and fortunate place.
The camaraderie is excellent. For the remainder of the shoot, we segregated ourselves together. For a long time now, we have known each other – and some of us have known each other for a long time. We’ve developed a shorthand there, and that makes things simpler.
What were your standout moments?
Mackichan: When we got to the hotel, we all had to take Covid 19 tests and isolate ourselves for two days. Then we all came out of our hotel rooms and were in the hallway, and that officially put us in a bubble. We all had a glass of champagne in the hotel hallway. That was joyful.
On set, it was nice to be in the Scottish countryside and not in a tiny shed in Dumbarton. We had a sense of space and light and it was amazing with the weather where one minute there was a rainbow, the next minute it was hailing and then the sun was shining.
Doon Mackichan and Jonathan Watson in the Two Doors Down Christmas special. Photo by Alan Peebles/BBC
The poor cameramen didn’t have it easy because of the windows – it was like being in a glass box. It was great to be able to stand outside and see because all the doors were open. It was pretty cold, but it felt safe.
Watson: Finishing on time. Because of all the different constraints you have to adhere to, it was a real accomplishment to get it done on time.
Which of the characters from Two Doors Down would you invite to Christmas dinner?
Mackichan: I would have the whole gang, because of the ridiculous entertainment. You couldn’t do without Christine, Cathy, Gordon and Ian. I’d record it and write an episode.
Watson: None. They wouldn’t even come close to the Watson household. Well, maybe Beth and Eric, if I had to.
Who would be your dream guest?
Mackichan: Queen Boudicca. She would show up with her daughters, park her chariot outside and get all the neighbors talking. She would be able to talk about how to be a fighting woman in these crazy times and how to keep going. Queen Boudicca would be an inspiring person to come to Christmas dinner. She would be a good kick in the a***.
10 Great Scottish Books, Movies, TV Shows and Songs to Watch at Christmas Time
Watson: I could reel off a long list, but I think Christopher Walken could be a bit of fun. He would be interesting and keep things going well.
Do you have any Christmas traditions?
Mackichan: We all go to my brother’s house and sing a lot on the piano. A lot of Close Harmony singing and reggae Christmas songs. We