Months after his life was saved by emergency surgery, the comic returns with his sitcom Back. He speaks about acting with a heart that is swollen and why he gave up alcohol, cigarettes and Twitter.
Robert Webb speaks, somewhat casually, about how he nearly died while filming his sitcom Back’s much-delayed and highly awaited second season. “I went for a cast medical checkup,” he says, “and the family doctor put his stethoscope on my heart, made a face and said,’ Curious. What did you do about the heart murmur?’ And I said,’ What heart murmur?’ Then he referred me – very urgently – to a cardiologist, who did some tests and told me,’ I’m not saying that in the next two weeks you’re going to have a heart attack – but in the n What followed was emergency surgery, followed by three-and-a-half months off work, to patch his mitral valve, which had a birth defect.
And then Covid died and production had to be shut down again, three weeks after his return. Eventually, the finishing touches were put on the series in September.
There are scenes,” Webb says, “where I look extremely doughy and bloated and messed up because my heart had almost doubled in size. But continuity was somewhat compromised. “Luckily, now he looks a lot healthier: smaller, younger, more alert.
And it’s brilliant that “Back” is, well, back, not least because it offers Webb the opportunity to play the most fascinating character in his career: Andrew, a man who appears in a group pretending to be Stephen’s long-lost foster brother, the owner of David Mitchell’s pub in Stroud.
“Webb says, “I haven’t made up my mind yet. And I have an intuition that it’s important that I don’t. And I have an intuition that it’s important that I don’t. It’s never made directly clear whether or not he’s simply a mean but charming crazy guy.”
Is Andrew exclusively motivated by malice? Is he at the heart of Satan? Or has he had a difficult upbringing and is a philanthropist only trying to get the attention of people in a slightly harmful way that he hasn’t really thought through? Webb had to do two takes for each scene in the first season, one that indicated psychopathy and one that didn’t. This time, they took it down the middle, revealing as much as possible the human side of Andrew. A sequence that’s a little warmer is the result.
It’s always really, very funny, very funny. Screenwriter Simon Blackwell has managed to strap all the suspense and excitement to a hefty conventional sitcom, and it’s backed by a fantastic cast.
“I tell Webb how much I enjoyed the performance of Geoff McGivern as the loudmouthed farmer to whom he rolls his eyes, “It’s like fucking Super Hans all over again,” he responds, referring to the Peep Show’s slightly deranged, scene-stealing character. And then the funny actor that everybody loves comes on and does something outrageous, and it’s going to be everybody’s favorite character. ‘Oh, shut up, Geoff. Fuck off.'”I do all the damn work: ‘Oh, why not a little more exposition, maybe I’ll say what’s going to happen in the next scene?’ And then the funny actor that everybody likes comes on and says something outrageous, and it’s going to be everybody’s favorite character. ‘Oh, shut up, Geoff. Fuck off.'”I do all the damn work:’ Oh, why not a little more exposure, maybe I’ll say what’s going to happen in the next scene?’ He says softly, “Geoff’s brilliant,” It’s also good to see Webb acting again, given that he kept saying he was now mainly a novelist at the time of his novel Come Again’s release last spring. He squirms, “Maybe I’m rushing to back away from that,”
Most of the decision to pick up the pen was due to his health, it turns out. “Even though it came as a surprise that I had such a serious problem with my heart, I knew I wasn’t well,” he says. “I thought, ‘Oh, so this is what it feels like to be 47 and still addicted to alcohol and fags.’ As a result, I turned down acting because subconsciously I thought, ‘I’m not fit for this.’ There were a couple of West End plays I didn’t do because I thought the press night might kill me.” How much did he swear off alcohol and fags? “Because I drank exactly the same as all my mates, he says, “I’m a little uncomfortable with the word alcoholic. You’re in the pub and you’ve got two or three pints, or three or four pints, or whatever, and you’ve got a bit of a hangover.”
In my 20s and 30s, that’s what I did.