Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Black comedy thriller Mad Dogs is back for a third series, and it’s stranger and funnier than ever. Sophie Herdman hijacks its big-name stars as they discuss friendship, spray tans and the advantages of growing old

Saturday, 1st June 2013, 7:00 am
Mad Dogs III
Mad Dogs III

In a luxurious cinema in London’s Notting Hill sit four of Britain’s finest actors – John Simm, Philip Glenister, Max Beesley and Marc Warren.

They’re in high spirits as they pour a bottle of wine and prepare to discuss the return to screens of black comedy thriller Mad Dogs.

Glenister – the grandpa of the group having recently turned 50 – is telling us how he celebrated this milestone birthday while filming.

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No all-night drinking and televisions thrown out of windows for this lot. No, they had tea and biscuits, went horse riding and enjoyed a nice long lunch.

“It’s a weird thing when you’re filling in forms and having to tick 50,” says Glenister, puffing on an electronic cigarette.

Not that the actors seem to mind getting older. In fact, they’re quite enjoying it.

“You can say and wear what you want. You don’t feel the need to be cool,” says Simm, 42, dressed in a beige jacket and shirt, top few buttons undone.

“John is naturally cool though,” notes Warren, 46. It’s true - Simm is the calmest of the group, less extroverted than the others but intelligent, witty and well, yes, cool.

Glenister, who in recent years has stopped reading what the media write about him, says getting older stops you worrying about what others think of you. Beesley, 42, has also come to some realisations in his advancing years. He’s always been known as a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll party boy, perhaps because he’s also a talented musician (some people have it all) who has played with the likes of Paul Weller, James Brown and good mate Robbie Williams.

“You’re not striving for the things you did when you were younger, which are possibly not the greatest things. Ambition comes in many forms and you can get caught up in that,” says Beesley. “That’s quite profound, has someone got a pen? I want to write that down,” jokes Warren.

But it’s not just growing older that quells the need to fit in. Simm believes that becoming a father has also had that effect.

Warren wants us to know that he’s not a dad. He’s single, ladies – a fact he continues to remind us of throughout the conversation (potential suitors can find him on Twitter).

Throughout their careers, the actors have all worked with one another at some point before Mad Dogs, bar Beesley and Glenister.

Simm and Glenister starred in Life On Mars - which Warren also popped up on - as well as State Of Play and Clocking Off.

Hustle, for which Warren is best known, saw an appearance from Beesley. And there are many more examples.

“We’ve always gone for the same jobs, so it could have been a recipe for disaster,” says Beesley, smiling.

He and Glenister bonded early during Mad Dogs filming, during a day trip to Franschhoek, one of South Africa’s oldest towns. “We fell in love,” says Glenister.

The group are keen to point out that they are friends – the best of friends, and they see each other all the time outside of work.

It hardly needs to be said because it’s obvious from the way they joke with each other that they’re more companions than colleagues.

“Do you know what it is?” asks Glenister. “We make each other laugh.” The other three break into hysterics. “Oh Phil, you’re so funny,” they say, stroking his arm.

For those who haven’t seen Mad Dogs, it tells the tale of four old friends - Woody (Beesley), Rick (Warren), Quinn (Glenister) and Baxter (Simm) - who get together to relive the good old days on a lads’ holiday.

“A lot of people can relate to that,” says Simm. “You were close growing up, then you got married, had kids, moved away and you’ve grown apart. Getting back together never quite works.”

The characters are at interesting times in their lives - some divorced, some married and all a bit unstable. The holiday goes horribly wrong when they get caught up in drug money and murder.

When we meet the friends at the start of series three, they’re in a Moroccan detention centre. By the end of the episode they’re being forced to start a new life in Cape Town.

The actors reveal that they had to don paper pants and little else for spray tans before filming. Not Beesley though, who chose a sock to cover his modesty.

“I was worried because I’d only packed ankle socks, but then I remembered I had my Manchester United full-length sock, so that just about covered it,” he says, grinning widely.

Fans of the show will be sad to hear that series four, which has already been filmed, is probably the end of Mad Dogs.