Plebs is back tonight, bigger and better than before. For those unfamiliar with the ITV2 comedy series, think The Inbetweeners meets Ancient Rome. Three young lads bidding for fame, fortune and females (and failing to land any of them) at a time when tunics were a la mode, charioteers ruled the social scene and slaves had, er, thick northern accents.
Starring Tom Rosenthal, Joel Fry and Ryan Sampson as Marcus, Stylax and their servant, Grumio, the return of Plebs will have you laughing and recoiling in equal measure as the cast push the boundaries of social awkwardness.
Ahead of tonight’s series premiere, RadioTimes.com caught up with Tom Rosenthal to hear all about breezy tunics, boring history lessons and the worst thing he’s ever seen himself do…
We like to think of Plebs as making history fun again – would you agree?
School just does that – it has an effect on history. School’s boring, history can be boring and often you forget they were like us, just with a few less things and probably more diseases and stuff.
Have you had any contact with your history teacher since starring in the show?
No, not really. I used to love history and then I was bad at it. I got a B at GCSE. I was so gutted. I guess you want it to be the programme everyone watches in the last lesson at school before the holidays when they wheel the TV in.
Would you watch Plebs if you weren’t in it?
I think I would, actually. I always liked it from the first time I heard about it – the idea of bringing quite high-minded ideas – the classical world – and making them very accessible. These worlds are mythologised and intellectualised beyond being human sometimes and I love the fact that we’ve done a show that brings ancient history to quite an earthly reality.
You certainly look the part – does it get drafty wearing those tunics?
Yes, it’s freezing but I hate reading about actors complaining abut it being cold because that’s all we do in interviews and everyone’s like “It’s cold in our jobs, too – shut up.” I really like the tunics. They’re excellent clothing because they’re less restrictive, you feel a bit like a girl, and you can go to the toilet with unbelievable ease.
So, using your new familiarity with Ancient Rome, what tips would you give a modern-day time traveller?
Learn Latin (that’s bog standard,) keep checking for disease, don’t piss people off who wear impressive plants and are powerful because you’ll just die, worship the sun – they’re really into pagan stuff – and learn your gods.
Are you, Joel and Ryan anything like your characters?
Joel is the opposite of Stylax, Ryan’s the opposite of Grumio and I’m pretty much the same. I like to think I’m slightly better with women. But probably not.
You get quite a graphic scene in tonight’s opening episode…
This series starts with the worst thing I’ve ever seen myself do, on screen or off. I’m telling my grandparents not to watch it. I can’t even watch it. Maybe they just have to watch it without the sound?
Speaking of family, you’ve got your dad Jim Rosenthal in this series and your housemate Naz Osmanoglu.
It’s getting to an odd point now. Get my f**king aunt in – why hasn’t she got a part? It’s been lovely – the second series of this is such a lovely filming experience – everyone’s my friend, friends of family and they look after you very well. It’s as fun as it looks.