A meteor heading towards Earth, a cast that ranges from Rob Lowe to Pauline Quirke, and locations that include the Vatican, New Mexico and Slough… it’s hard to imagine a more intriguing show than Sky1’s new comedy drama You, Me and the Apocalypse (Weds, September 30).
The big-budget 10-part series, co-produced by US network NBC, begins in present-day Berkshire, where a group of ordinary people have just discovered – alongside the rest of humanity – that a meteor strike is about to wipe out the planet.
TV&Satellite Week went in on set to meet Hollywood star Rob Lowe, and star of the US Office Jenna Fischer. Rob welcomes us kitted out in the dog collar and cassock of his character, Catholic priest Father Jude.
What’s the show about, Rob?
“The scenario is that there’s a comet on its way to Earth and we have 34 days left until the world ends. Over the next 10 episodes we flash back to how these seemingly unrelated people are drawn together. And they are the most disparate group imaginable. There’s a wrongly convicted housewife on death row, a bank worker from Slough, a young Italian nun, and so on.”
Why did you sign up to play Father Jude?
“I’ve never played a priest before! That has been one of the fun things about this role; I loved the research and learning about the Catholic Church. Jude is head of the Office of the Devil’s Advocate. Historically, that was a real office until Pope John Paul II abolished it. But with the end of the world coming, the new Pope reinstates it, and elects my character to do it because he’s such a badass.”
A badass priest?
“Jude is a renegade. He curses. He’s a cynic. So they figure he’s the perfect person. And because the end of the world is coming, he also spends a lot of time looking for the new Messiah. And the Anti-Christ!”
Did you do anything to prepare for such a role?
“I read the Bible from cover to cover. It was quite fun sitting out on the beach over Christmas reading the Bible. People must have thought, ‘Ooh, Rob Lowe, he’s a very pious man!’”
What can you tell us about the opening episode?
“It introduces several of the characters, including New Mexico librarian Rhonda, played by Jenna Fischer, who is thrown behind bars after taking the rap for her teenage son Spike, who hacked into the US government’s computer system.”
We understand you filmed with former Will & Grace star Megan Mullally, Jenna?
“We were shooting in a real prison for three days before the other actors realised who Megan was. People just freaked out when they realised. They couldn’t believe it was her. She’s so unrecognisable.”
Chaos breaks out in the prison when inmates learn of the impending apocalypse – was your escape fun to film?
“I get to do all these exciting stunts. I’ve done car chases, I get to loot a store, I’m in a prison riot, I take someone hostage. It’s been awesome to film. I keep wondering if this is what Tom Cruise feels like when he goes to work.”
With the show’s focus being the apocalypse, was there much talk of a real life survival plan between the cast?
Rob: “We gave plenty of thought to what would happen if a real apocalypse struck and we somehow survived. I’d be in good hands because my oldest son, Matthew, is an outdoorsman. He’s a professional fisherman as well as a student, so he’s smart and brawny. He’d honestly be the first one I’d want with me.
“In some ways the apocalypse wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing in the world, there would be no more reality television. How great would that be?”