Staged star Michael Sheen says lockdown comedy with David Tennant is “art imitating life”

The Good Omens actor gave an insight into his friendship with co-star David Tennant

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Staged on BBC One

Appearing via video call for an interview on This Morning, Michael Sheen joked about how he was brought on board for the BBC’s new comedy Staged.

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“Well David Tennant has a lot of dirt on me so he forced me into joining him in doing this,” he joked. “He essentially said the director and producer of Staged came to him with the idea and said, “Can you call Michael and see if he’ll be in it as well?”

“It’s a bit like the show because that’s what happens in the show. It’s essentially art imitating life.”

The programme sees Tennant and Sheen playing exaggerated versions of themselves as two actors who are forced to rehearse an upcoming play on Zoom due to the lockdown.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Times, they previously spoke out about the “weird” experience of portraying caricatures of themselves.

In the six-part series, Tennant is shown as the more affable of the two, while Sheen must be coaxed and flattered before he commits to remote rehearsals.

“Because we haven’t written the scripts, it’s very much the writer’s version of who we might be,” Tennant explained.

Sheen added: “In the opening episode, they used a version of the scene where David rang me up and asked me to do it [Staged], so I suppose that seeded an idea of me as the tricky one who might suddenly fly off the handle. Rather than that I’m a complete a***hole in real life.”

Sheen, whose uncanny ability at playing real-life people was recently highlighted in ITV’s Quiz, said that he found it “weird” playing himself.

Michael Sheen plays Chris Tarrant in Quiz.
Michael Sheen plays Chris Tarrant in Quiz.
ITV

“Just before we started shooting Staged, I did think, ‘Hang on a minute, what’s the character here?’,” he said. “Because it’s weird to play yourself. I realised that, even being me, I have to find rock-holes in the script to hang on to. It was useful to have those hints in the script that people could be a bit nervous around ‘him’.”

Tennant agreed: “It was great to have someone telling us who ‘we’ are. Quite early in lockdown, I realised I was wearing wellington boots, shorts and this old, grey zip-up hoodie – and I’d been wearing them for several days. I thought maybe that was my ‘lockdown self’, so I put that costume into Staged.”

Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times.

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Staged will begin on Wednesday 10th June at 10:45pm on BBC One. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.