Ghosts’ Kiell Smith-Bynoe: “Charlotte Ritchie hits me when she tries to be sexy” | TV comedy

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isIn the BBC sitcom Ghosts, two modern day herberts, Mike and Alison, inherit a mansion populated by ancestral spirits. You would think that viewers would be outraged by the absurdity of the ghosts that can walk through walls while walking on solid ground, or by the implausibility of the early twenties on the property ladder being a 14-room lobby. rooms, but no. Instead, in 2020 some are more disturbed by the fact that Mike is black and Alison is white. “I’ve seen a lot of comments on this and even if you watch the trailer on YouTube, there are people complaining that ‘they’re all interracial couples on TV these days,'” Kiell says. Smith-Bynoe, who plays Mike. “I understand that is what some people feel.”

Then, on the video link from his house, Smith-Bynoe gives me a cheeky smile. “And that also makes me a little happy. I’m like, “You can comment anything you want on YouTube, but you can’t do anything about it. It was ordered – two more times. A third series of Ghosts was ordered before the second was released.

One of the things that made the first series of Ghosts such a success was Smith-Bynoe’s relationship with Call the Midwife star Charlotte Ritchie as Alison. After falling through a window and opening her head, Alison can see the ghosts, but Mike can’t, although if he could he would likely turn off the ghost lights of the dead romantic poet who continues to move her. woman.

Who is here? … Ritchie and Smith-Bynoe in Ghosts. Photographie: Steven Peskett / BBC / Monumental Television

Smith-Bynoe is emerging as one of the funniest comedy actors on television at 31 – starring not only in Ghosts, but as Dean the realtor in Channel 4’s Stath Lets Flats and in as delicious person Brummie Jovell in the BBC’s Man Like Mobeen. You’ve probably also seen him with Natasia Demetriou in the ads for BBC iPlayer’s ‘wasted on some’ campaign, as a clueless couple who don’t understand why the BBC is broadcasting guts like Ghosts. “There are 14 rooms with a ghost in each,” he says. “Sorry – where’s the entertainment in there?” she asks. “Thank goodness we are living in a new construction.”

You get a sense of the fun Smith-Bynoe has on Ghosts from a recent Instagram post celebrating Ritchie’s birthday: “I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather dance with around a 500-year-old house. Dead or alive. He says, “We’re very similar in our sense of humor and silliness, and they really saw that and realized it would work.” It’s a brilliant partnership – except when she punched me in the face.

Was that part of the script? ” Absolutely not. There was this scene in the first series where, because we’re plagued with all these ghosts, we don’t have a lot of time to have our freak as a married couple. She tried to wake me up in a sexy way and she hit me. It’s like that with Charlotte. She hits me when she tries to be sexy.

The Dead are primarily played by veterans of Horrible Histories, who also wrote the sitcom.

Dead funny… the ancestral spirits in Ghosts.
Dead funny… the ancestral spirits in Ghosts. Photographie: Steven Peskett / BBC / Monumental Television

Smith-Bynoe’s goal now is to write more comedy himself. He co-wrote Enterprice, the BBC Three’s sitcom about two entrepreneurs and their surely doomed walking scooter-based delivery business. And during the lockdown he wrote a pilot. But he really wants to get into the Ghosts screenwriters room. “A single episode would be good.”

First, however, he wants to defend the cast of another person of color in Ghosts. Doubts have been cast about Kitty, the young black and left Georgian nobleman played by Lolly Adefope. For Smith-Bynoe, the complaints show that many Britons do not know their own history. “This is proof of the lack of black history in schools that makes people think that there is no way there could be a black Georgian girl.”

The problem, in his view, is that the national agenda tends to emphasize that black lives are important, but only if they are American. “It’s a shame that so many of my peers of color had to take their own history lessons. We are not told about important black figures in British history. He quotes a recent Google Doodle which introduced him to Harold Moody, the Jamaican-born doctor who founded the League of Colored Peoples in London in 1931, after lobbying for colleagues of color who were struggling to find housing. or work in Great Britain. “His name was Martin Luther King from UK, and I hadn’t heard of him.

The resurgence of Black Lives Matter this summer has made it swing between hope and despair. “There is a lot of work to be done, but I hope people go to the right places and that means we will have better representation.” But he despaired of some of his Facebook friends.

“I knew that the people who are on my Instagram or Twitter have similar opinions to me, whereas Facebook can be people I added 10 years ago or met them once. I thought it was more important to post a few posts on Facebook so that it wasn’t an echo chamber. His messages, at first glance, were not exceptional. Each was dealing with a cut short black life – George Floyd, Shukri Abdi, Devonte Hart. “It sparked a lot of conversations. But it also means that you are able to determine that the person you went to drama school with is a racist. I’m glad I found this out and got rid of it.

Smith-Bynoe wanted to be an actor from his debut on stage at the age of four. He was the innkeeper in his elementary school’s nativity play. “I had a reply: ‘It’s at the back’. So I said it and everyone in the audience laughed. I thought, ‘That was good, that applause thing. I could pay for things with applause. If I were a little smarter I would find that being on stage doesn’t make you any money at all. But he was hooked, attending summer drama schools, training at East 15 Drama School, before honing his comedy improv skills at Hackney Empire.

Today, he wishes to highlight his serious acting talents. His first professional role was in the crime drama Whitechapel in 2012 as Tony Huddart, the brother of a recently murdered Londoner, forced to collapse in front of police investigators. “During the audition I cried for real, and in the first and second take I also cried. And in the third, I said to myself: “What, again? I don’t think I have any left. Fortunately, the makeup had the sticks of tears. What are they? “They’re like Vicks but in a container of lipstick and you just wipe it off under your eyes and in about 20 seconds you’re feeling great.

He watched his professional debut with his pals on his birthday in 2012. “It lasted 45 seconds, but I was like, ‘I did it. Hollywood, I’m coming. And then I didn’t work for a year. Instead, he tried another route to stardom. In 2012, he made 40 YouTube movies with friends in his area (like Idris Elba, he’s from East Ham) and quickly became a comedy name on the YouTube scene. His showreel was seen by Fonejacker creator Kayvan Novak, who made him one of his pranksters on the Channel 4 Britain Today parody news show, Tonight.

Smith-Bynoe’s career might have taken a different path had he capitalized on his success as grime MC Klayze Flaymz while still in sixth form. “We [Klayze Flaymz and his mates Jaxor, Terra and Ray] were doing a lot of serious stuff like Red Hot Entertainment. And then one day I was going to an audition and thought of a verse for a song about the chicken store across the street where we were rehearsing. By the time I got out of the audition the guys had finished their verses and we had this song.

Entitled Junior Spesh (after the £ 1.50 junior special that Kiell preferred), the song “got 30,000 views which at the time [2007] was a big deal, and we got a little fame. But I hated it with a passion. It’s so stupid. Well you say that, but the million people who have seen it on YouTube might hesitate. “The original connoisseurs of bludclart chicken [sic]», Declares a speaker. “This song summed up that time in the mid-2000s so well. Historians hundreds of years ago will watch this video and be mesmerized by the content and the lyrics,” said another.

Smith-Bynoe claims to have given up on dirt “because I’m not that passionate.” That said, it’s still worth checking out a recent tour on Comedy Central in which he played Stormzy’s roommate and his crass star colleague Bosski performing a tune called Day One Mandem. His hypothesis is that the grime icon can’t go anywhere – doctor’s office, bed, shower – without being shaded by those around him, whom he doesn’t know much about. Hence: “Ride five times when I go to my nan’s / In the end, I had to leave early / I tried to get the whole gang into an Uber. “

“It’s very good,” he tells me when, laughing, I remember that performance, “but there is more to me than laughing. I really want to do something serious. I want to play a man on horseback in a period drama. In a puffy shirt? ” Sure. Why not? And then he falls for the idea of ​​riding a horse in a puffy shirt. Kiell Smith-Bynoe can’t be serious for long.

• Ghosts is on BBC One and iPlayer.

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