CIRENCESTER’S This Country fans were treated to a sneak peek at the show’s third series – set to air on Monday – at a special hometown preview.
Over 25,000 people applied for tickets to the event at the Bingham Hall, with seats allocated though a random ballot.
The audience of 400 got to see the first two episodes, followed by a Q&A with the show’s writers and stars, Daisy and Charlie Cooper.
Fans queued round the block for hours to get a good seat.
And it was standing room only, with Daisy and Charlie nodding and waving to various people in the audience as they took to the stage, including their driving instructor and members of the team at the Fosse Cross recycling centre, who feature in the first episode.
There was a jubilant atmosphere in the hall, with a real feeling of pride for the hometown duo.
The siblings, who were born, raised and still live in Cirencester, have turned their experiences of growing up in the Cotswolds into comedy gold, portraying life in the area with irreverence and empathy in equal measure.
The raucous atmosphere of the evening was tinged with sadness, however, when the Q&A conversation, hosted by BBC presenter Steve Knibbs, turned to the devastating loss of Michael Sleggs, who died aged just 33 in July last year.
Daisy broke down in tears as she spoke about Michael, who played one of the programme’s recurring characters, ‘Slugs’.
The sibling duo, plus producer Simon Mayhew-Archer and director Tom George, paid tribute to Michael and said it had been important to them all to include a fitting farewell to their friend in the first episode of the new series.
The Standard had a quick catch-up with Daisy and Charlie before the show got started and we chatted about Michael then too.
“Michael was adamant that he wanted to be in the first episode of the new series and he wanted it to be funny,” said Daisy.
“So, with the help of his family, we tried to make a fitting tribute.”
Charlie said: “One of the first things we ever wrote was a scene with Kerry and Kurtan and this character Slugs.
“We based it on him and then obviously we got him in to be that character, because he was so funny in real life.
“Because it’s a mocumentary you want it to be authentic, and most of us in the cast play our alter egos.
“There’s so much of us in those characters, and it was the same for him. So when he passed away, we knew we had to be truthful to what happened and truthful to his character and him.
“We address that he died in the first episode. He leaves a letter in his will to Kurtan, and basically the story unfolds from there, that’s how we included him.”
Daisy and Charlie first started writing This Country when Charlie, who had dropped-out of the University of Exeter, was living with Daisy while she studied at RADA – sleeping on the floor of her student halls in London.
When Daisy graduated in 2010, the two moved back home to their parents’ newly down-sized two bed house in Cirencester.
“It was really awful,” said Daisy. “We had to work as night cleaners and we were sharing a room and we were just desperate.”
“We were sort of Kerry and Kurtan really,” added Charlie.
“We lived that small town life of feeling like you’re not going anywhere, and feeling trapped.
“Neither of us could drive, so we couldn’t go anywhere, and we were quite disillusioned. That was the inspiration for the show really, along with all the local characters.”
Since then, the sibling’s circumstances have changed greatly, with their ideas transformed into a BAFTA award-winning cult comedy.
But Charlie says that particular period of their lives has provided “enough material to last a life time”.
Which is lucky, as they are so well known these days that one of their key sources of material – listening in to conversations at bus stops, down the pub and around town – is no longer open to them.
“You can’t be anonymous when you go to the pub any more. And you can’t listen to people’s conversations,” said Charlie.
“Yeah, that’s a shame,” said Daisy.
“So much of it was just being in town,” said Charlie.
“Or at bus stops and things like that,” added Daisy.
“We’d always write things down what we heard.”
Writing scripts is a much more comfortable business now, for Daisy.
“Daisy lies in bed while we discuss ideas, with me sitting on the floor, writing things down,” said Charlie.
The first episode of series three premieres on BBC One at 10.35pm on Monday, February 17, but is available on the iPlayer from 7pm the same day.