Johnny Flynn on being sensible, Scrotal Recall and composing for friend Mackenzie Crook

The actor and musician plays a laid-back, carefree charmer in Comedy Central series Brotherhood — but he's busier in real life...

Johnny Flynn is currently appearing in Comedy Central’s new series Brotherhood about two siblings forced to become surrogate parents to their younger sibling. RadioTimes.com caught up with him to talk fecklessness, Scrotal Recall and composing music for Mackenzie Crook….

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Johnny, in Brotherhood you play a very relaxed, lady-loving guy named Toby whose brother Dan is a bit more sensible and neurotic. Which brother are you most like in real life?

I’m probably more like Dan. I’m often the one in my gang of friends who’s worried about how we’re going to get from A to B. I’m the one running around saying “is somebody going to do something about it?!” Everyone else is bit more chilled. It was nice playing somebody who’s a bit louche and laid back.

Your character Toby is quite unusual in that he’s a player, but he’s also very sweet…

I feel I’ve got a few friends who are a bit like that. So I was thinking of them. But you know, Toby’s totally honest about any motives. Everything’s on his sleeve. That’s the nice thing about him. He’s got a good heart, he’s genuinely a good bloke — but slightly feckless. 

Let’s talk about Scrotal Recall, which I loved. Great programme, but a bad name?

Early on it was always like “we might change it” and I thought it was great because there’s some high art in the writing, but it’s also got real flippancy to it. The writers got a wonderful sense of humour and I just thought it was really cool to be so throwaway with the title.

Do you think Scrotal Recall hasn’t been brought back for another series because people didn’t get it?

Yeah, maybe. I think a lot of people wrote it off because of the title. It was a mixed bag of viewers. The people who stuck with it seemed to get it and love it. I loved the script so much. Hopefully it will be a slow builder and could come back because it’s been a success in America.

You composed the music for the Bafta-winning Detectorists. How did you get that gig?

I was talking to my friend Mackenzie Crook, who I’d done a play with [Jerusalem], for a long time about this show he was developing and writing.  He always said, “I want you to write the music for it.” Detectorists is totally from his heart and his persona – it’s very much him. He’s kind of a little bit like his character in it, which is really sweet. 

Are you still playing and composing music, or just acting?

I’ve been writing music for As You Like It at The Globe and have been in rehearsals teaching actors to do songs I’ve written, and doing the jigs with them. It’s all music for Elizabethan instruments so I had to study…

But I always really wanted to act more than anything else which is why I went to drama school when I was 18. Music was really important but acting was the serious thing. I’ve never done anything like Brotherhood before. It was a great challenge to take up a part in a live audience sitcom – it was amazing.

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Brotherhood continues at 9.30pm on Tuesdays on Comedy Central