Gavin and Stacey stars Mathew Horne and James Corden talk about their new BBC3 sketch show…

They’ve won shedloads of awards for the delightful Gavin and Stacey, and recently hosted the Brits with Kylie. Now, Mathew Horne and James Corden move one step further in their bid for world domination with their own BBC3 sketch show, called, originally enough, Horne and Corden.

The series, which begins on Tuesday March 9, features the actors performing as a range of characters, from the outrageously camp reporter Tim Goodall to cheesy magicians Jonny and Lee Miller.

We caught up with the boys to get the lowdown…

Why did you want to do a sketch show?
Corden: “When we were shooting Gavin and Stacey, there was so much time waiting around on the set we started doing little skits which we thought we could turn into sketches. Once we got the go-ahead, we realised we also wanted to perform some sketches in front of a studio audience.”
Horne: “That idea came from when we did Big Brother’s Big Mouth. We wanted to put ourselves at the front of the show and make it different from generic sketch shows that have come before us.”

Have you taken inspiration from any other sketch shows?
Corden: “Yes, things like The Catherine Tate Show that Mat worked on where characters are at the forefront, but also double acts like Morecambe and Wise, Smith and Jones, and Fry and Laurie where it was about their personalities.”
Horne: “We also want to capture the feel of The Mary Whitehouse Experience, which had a very current feel of it happening there and then.”

Is it tougher to write a sketch show than a sitcom?
Corden: “I’ve found it harder because with Gavin and Stacey we have the cushion of telling a narrative which pulls you through so it doesn’t have to be ‘joke, joke, joke’. With a sketch show, either it’s funny or it isn’t.”
Horne: “I’d only ever written sketches on Catherine’s show. It isn’t easy, but what we tried to do was write some characters you can follow, with some narrative development.”

There’s a fair bit of flesh on display in some of the sketches…
Corden: “It’s not like every episode I’m constantly taking my clothes off! You can’t have inhibitions, though, if you want to make people laugh. If you want to be cool, you shouldn’t work in comedy.”
Horne: “As long as it’s funny, and there’s a reason for it, it’s worth doing. It should never be a case of ‘let’s get naked because it would be funny’.”

Kathy Burke directs your location sketches. How did that come about?

Horne: “I’d worked with her on The Catherine Tate Show and we’d stayed friends, so I thought it would be worth asking her. We performed some stuff to her at her house and we were just really touched that she thought our show had enough about it to join us.”

Were there any characters that didn’t make the grade?
Corden: “I had this idea to do these Eastern European hoteliers who had a nasty B&B behind Euston Station and would constantly proposition guests. We thought they were funny, but we tried it in Manchester during a try-out tour and they never saw the light of day again.”

You’ve got a film out soon, too. What’s it about?
Horne: It’s a comedy horror called Lesbian Vampire Killers and we play best mates being chased by lesbian vampires in a forest. It’s just really fun and cheeky. It’s far less gratuitously sexual or violent than you could possibly imagine.”

Do you ever have to pinch yourselves about how your careers have skyrocketed?
Corden: “Absolutely. We’re both so aware of the opportunity we’ve been given. It was inconceivable to us two years ago that we would have our own show, make a film and host the Brits. We refuse to take it for granted.”

Are there any pressures that come with fame?
Corden: “You can’t complain. Any problems we have are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I’m name-dropping now but I once asked Alan Bennett why he hadn’t been knighted and he said because it’s important to still be a part of the world you want to write about. If you’re suddenly at a load of celebrity parties you start to forget about normal families from Barry Island for instance.”

The many faces of Horne and Corden…

Horne & Corden / Jonny
Jonny and Lee Miller

The rubbish magicians’ act owes more to mime and dance than tricks. “The characters come from when we were dressed at Gavin and Stacey’s wedding in waistcoats and cravats and one of the crew said, ‘You look like really bad magicians’,” says Corden.

Horne & Corden / Goodall
Tim Goodall

The camp reporter (Horne) brings his OTT style to a raft of very serious stories. “Every mainstream show is hosted by flamboyant gay men,” says Corden. “We thought how long before one of them is a war correspondent in Basra?”

Horne & Corden / Spiderman
Superman and Spiderman

The superheroes try to live ordinary lives and often bump into each other. “There’s just something visually funny about us two in these outfits,” says Horne. “It’s based on the idea that lots of actors live in places like Crouch End in London. They’ve seen each other on telly but have never really met so an awkward relationship develops.”

Horne & Corden / Xander

Family man Martin (Horne) loathes the frequent reappearances of embarrassing old school pal Xander (Corden). “Xander doesn’t know the boundaries of their friendship,” says Corden. “He’s based on someone I knew who said really inappropriate, awful things, and quickly followed up with a compliment.”

Horne & Corden / Gervais
Ricky Gervais

The Office star (Corden) continues his Hollywood career with gems such as Karate Kid 14. “I dread to think he’ll be offended by it because I think he’s brilliant,” says Corden. “It’s a pop at him, but with love and respect.”