Toby Jones plays Peter in BBC2’s dark comedy series Don’t Forget The Driver – an overworked coach driver whose discovery of a dead body on the beach in Bognor Regis sets off a chain of events that throw his life into turmoil.
But despite spending much of his time behind the wheel onscreen, it seems that in real-life Jones — who co-wrote the series with playwright Tim Crouch — hit a bump in the road while learning to drive a coach for the series.
In an interview with RadioTimes.com, Jones revealed that he tried – and failed – to pass his coach driving test three times, despite receiving private lessons in the run-up to the start of filming.
“I thought I was really good and I took the test and he failed me on one thing,” Jones admitted. After two attempts to pass prior to the start of filming, Jones decided to give the test one last go. “We were starting to shoot and I failed it again, and so I haven’t passed my test, but I was able to drive it up with a bus driver in there with me. And we shot a lot of stuff on private [lanes].”
The series is set in a part of Britain that voted to leave the European Union by a majority of 64%, and in episode one there are plenty of pointed jokes and references as Peter leads a coach party over the English Channel. But according to Jones the show is “about Bognor” not Brexit.
“Why would you want to see another thing about Brexit? That’s not what it’s about, it’s about Bognor… Bognor’s like any town if you look at it now, there’s lots of things going on in the town, on the street, in the different communities.”
Asked how Peter, a man of chronic inaction, would have voted in the referendum, Jones said: “I suppose I’d say Remain maybe, because it… just keep things as they — don’t move things on.”
Jones’ screenwriting partner Tim Crouch grew up in Bognor – and bats away any suggestion the series might offend local residents: “My dad still lives in Bognor Regis. Cut me in half like a stick of rock, I have the word ‘Bognor’ written. I go back a lot.
“I don’t think we are disrespectful of that place, actually, and I think we are very strong on that.”
Don’t Forget the Driver airs on Tuesdays at 10pm on BBC2 starting on 9th April