A quick chat with Tyger Drew-Honey

Tyger Drew-Honey, who plays teenager Jake in BBC1’s Outnumbered (Friday, Sep 2), previews the new series of the hit comedy…

What’s coming up in the new series of Outnumbered?

“Auntie Angela, played by Samantha Bond, is back and we meet one of her offspring. There is also quite a big appearance from a ventriloquist’s dummy, some interesting business with a mysterious man who shows up at our door one day, and Jake also gets a German exchange student.”

What else is coming up for Jake?

“Well, Pete (Hugh Dennis) and Sue (Claire Skinner) have a big dilemma because Jake has a friend who is doing something illegal and they aren’t sure whether they should tell the boy’s mum. Jake also has a new girlfriend who is quite a lot older than him and it takes his parents quite a while to come round to that.”

Do you think Jake is the easiest of the three children to deal with?

“Ben (Daniel Roche) and Karen (Ramona Marquez) run rings around the parents because they are young and hectic and go everywhere at a million miles an hour. Jake shows how being a teenager is hard for parents, though, because he always used to worry about things and didn’t have many friends, which I think his parents were concerned about.”

How would you like Jake to progress?

“I would love to see him grow up and become one of the really cool kids and start driving a nice car and get another girlfriend of an appropriate age and do well in his GCSEs and be successful in the band. That would be pretty cool.”

Do you have a favourite episode this series?

“Probably episode three because I got to play a lot of Subbuteo and Hugh Dennis and I had a bit of a match. I don’t know who won, though, because we had to keep stopping and restarting.”

Are there any guest stars?

“We had John Sessions as a vicar in the first episode where we have a family funeral. It is quite awkward because it is a funeral and if something goes wrong at a birthday party it’s not too bad, but at a funeral it is huge. Ben has to be kept on a tight leash.”

What can you tell us about the Christmas special?

“We have already filmed that and if you remember the last Christmas special there was a song at the end and we have another song this time and it is quite funny. We also get separated from Granddad for a bit and Mum is not particularly happy about that. Jake also has the hangover of all hangovers on Christmas Day so he is just slouching around and grunting and just not being very nice.”

How long do you think the series can go on for as you all get older?

“I think there is a chance of a fifth series, but I don’t think it will go much further than that. Not many people had seen kids that young on TV before because there is a saying, ‘Don’t work with children or animals’, but Dan and Ramona were so endearing I think it attracted a lot of viewers. If it gets to a point where they aren’t cute any more, though, I think it will have to stop. The point of Outnumbered is that it is set around the house with the school run and the madness of that. If everyone is mature I just don’t think it will work.”

What is the secret to the show’s success?

“I think the fact that it is not completely scripted. Ramona and Dan were about five and six when we did the pilot for the first series and if anyone that age is fed lines it is hard for them to not sound like they are being remembered, so the fact that they were allowed to put things into their own words made it completely realistic, which is something that hadn’t really been achieved with kids that young. I still get excited when I see ‘improv section’ on the script.”

What do you think the series says about modern families?

“I think in a light-hearted sense, it gives off the vibe to other parents ‘Don’t worry, we are all bad at parenting but everyone tries and as long as you are doing your best it doesn’t matter, you will get there.’ You go into Pete and Sue’s life and you see how they struggle and sometimes don’t handle things perfectly, but they get through their problems.”

Do you feel like one of the adults on set now you have grown up on the show?

“I do to be honest because I am quite a bit taller than a lot of the crew! It does feel like a real family because we work in such a confined space, usually just in a room or two for about six weeks, and we all get really close. There is one massive bond between everyone and at the end of each series it is really sad.”

Do you get recognised a lot?

“Yes, it’s often teenagers but the oldest person was about 70 or 80 and it is nice that it can reach people that age as well as kids of about eight and all the ages in between. They often say ‘My family is just like yours’.”

Do people think you are all related in real life?

“We do go out quite a bit together and people often recognise the three of us kids as a trio. Technically, though, Ramona couldn’t be our family because she has brown eyes and Dan, Hugh, Claire and I have got blue eyes!”

What has it been like for you at school?

“I am not sure if it is particularly significant to my mates any more. Initially, when it happened it was not something they had ever been exposed to, having a friend in a TV show, so everyone was excited, but now I think the novelty has worn off.”

What is the best thing about having done the show?

“I think the biggest advantage is just having had the privilege and opportunity to do it. It has been so much fun and I just love doing it.”

What is next for you?

“I have got an animated comedy series for kids coming up that I might be doing for Baby Cow with Steve Coogan, which is quite surreal. I also have the possibility of a film coming up based on a book The Boy Who Saved The World. It is about these six boys who form a new religion and kidnap a Muslim from their school.”

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