Ordinary Lies’ Jason Manford: ‘You don’t need Derren Brown to work out if I’m lying or not!’

Ordinary Lies, the BBC’s new drama about a group of co-workers whose lies spiral out of control, starts on BBC1 on Tuesday, March 17.

Here, stand-up comic turned actor Jason Manford tells us about the show, and whether or not he’s a good liar…

What is Ordinary Lies about?
“It follows the workers of a car showroom and explores the idea that we don’t truly know what’s going on in people’s lives. There’s a big difference between a real friend and the bloke you sit next to at work every day and occasionally go for lunch with; these people are often not really your friends, they’re just people you see a lot.”

Tell us about your character Marty McLean, whose story is told in episode one?
“Marty’s a bit of a loveable rogue. He’s got a lovely wife and kids and he’s good at his job, but he’s just having a bit of a midlife crisis. So he’s gambling, drinking, staying out late and, the knock-on effect is that he’s now frequently late for work.”

What happens when he’s late again?
“Marty knows he’s on the verge of getting the sack. So when he oversleeps again, he calls work and, in a moment of panic, tells everyone that the he won’t be in that morning because… his wife has died! In reality, though, she’s absolutely fine.”

Why does he tell such an awful lie?
“We’ve all been in that situation where we’re running late for work and we’re trying to come up with an excuse, but Marty takes things to a ridiculous level. Lying that his wife has died is horrendous, but Marty’s not a bad person, he’s just made a bad decision.”

The drama also stars, among others, ex-Corrie actress Michelle Keegan and former EastEnders star Jo Joyner, whose characters all have things they’re trying to hide…
“Everyone has their own secrets and things they wouldn’t want their colleagues to know about. This drama gives people a taste of what could happen if those secrets were ever exposed.”

As Ordinary Lies explores how well people know their colleagues, did you find out anything surprising about your co-stars?
“Not really. Though I was really blown away by Michelle Keegan. I didn’t really know who she was outside of what’s reported about her in the papers, but I think she’s an absolutely brilliant actress. She’s one of the best actors I’ve worked with, but people don’t see that because she’s so pretty. It must be a burden to be that good looking – I think if I have the choice I’ll stay ugly!”

Finally, are you any good at telling lies?
“I guess so. As a stand-up comedian, you’re spending a lot of time on stage making stuff up and trying to convince people it’s the truth. In real-life, though, I get panicky and a bit dry-mouthed – you wouldn’t need Derren Brown to work out if I was lying or not!”