The Backstage Centre team is delighted it was recently announced that the 6-part sitcom Buffering, created, written by, and starring BAFTA-winning comedian Iain Stirling (Love Island, CelebAbility, Taskmaster), with co-creator and writer BBC New Comedy Award-winning Steve Bugeja (The Russell Howard Hour, CelebAbility, Economics with Subtitles), returns to ITV2 for a second series at 10.05 pm on Monday 30th January, with a simultaneous full series drop on ITVX.
Film in Purfleet-on-Thames at the Backstage Centre, and on locations, including High House Production Park, Buffering follows the lives of kids’ TV presenter Iain (Iain Stirling) and his housemates: Ashley (Rosa Robson – Black Mountain Poets, Inside No. 9, Heavy Entertainment), Rosie (Jessie Cave – Harry Potter, Trollied, Black Mirror), Greg (Paul G Raymond – Plebs, Avenue 5, Starstruck), and Thalia (Janine Harouni – Stand Up with Janine Harouni (Please Remain Seated), The Batman, Modern Horror Stories) as they attempt to navigate the choppy waters of their late twenties, with every wrong decision, failed relationship and wasted hungover day intensifying the feeling that time is running out for them to get their ‘adult’ lives in order.
Over the course of this new series, we’ll follow Iain and his housemates as they try to figure out how to be better at life. Whether it’s throwing house parties, job hunting, dating, visiting the countryside, putting on pub quizzes or just figuring out their true feelings for each other, the gang will always have each other when, inevitably, things don’t go as planned. Helping them along the way is Iain’s on-off (mostly off) girlfriend Olivia (Elena Saurel – The Batman, Industry, Breeders) and his overly detail driven (aka irritating) colleague Finn (Steve Bugeja).
Buffering has been commissioned by Paul Mortimer, ITV’s Head of Digital Channels and Acquisitions and Managing Director, Media and Entertainment, Kevin Lygo. Nana Hughes, ITV’s Head of Scripted Comedy, is overseeing production of this series from the broadcaster’s perspective. The series is cowritten by Christine Robertson, Sally O’Leary, Janine Harouni, and Jessie Cave. Sam Michell (Stewart Lee: Snowflake/Tornado, Mrs Brown’s Boys) is producer, while Sophie King (Disability Benefits, Swan) directs. Produced by Avalon and Executive Produced by Richard Allen-Turner and Jon Thoday.
Laura Whitmore, Emily Atack, David Carlyle, Tony Way, Melvin Odoom, Tyne-Lexy Clarson, Sophie Duker and Gordon Kane announced as guest casting.
Laura Whitmore (2:22 A Ghost Story, Laura Whitmore Investigates, Love Island)
Emily Atack (The Emily Atack Show, The Inbetweeners, Dad’s Army)
David Carlyle (It’s a Sin, Bodyguard, Lip Service),
Tony Way (After Life, Giri/Haji, Game of Thrones)
Melvin Odoom (BBC R1’s Live Lounge, Celebrity
Cooking School, Xtra Factor)
Tyne-Lexy Clarson (The Last Heist, Little Women The Broadway Musical, Love Island)
Sophie Duker (Taskmaster, Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, Live at The Apollo)
Gordon Kane (Hamlet, Coronation Street, In The Long Run)
Q: How pleased were you with the reaction to series one?
A: Yeah, delighted. Obviously it’s so hard to get, particular scripted stuff, made these days. So for ITV to want to make another one it’s nice to feel like you’ve done something right. And it was a mad slog, series one, because me and Steve made episodes one and two almost like a pilot. We hadn’t made anything like that before and then we didn’t really have any input from anyone else. So it was just the two of us. We filmed in this house and then COVID hit. So filming was delayed for ages and then we couldn’t get back in the house so we had to build the house as a set. So I feel like episodes one and two are almost series one, then episode 3, 4, 5 and six are series two because there’s almost a year in the middle of them! It’s why, not all of us, but a lot of us in it are pushing our mid 30s now. We were in our late 20s when it was commissioned, then we filmed it, and then it took a year and a half to get series two made plus a year of COVID and all that. Put it this way, we’re all shaving every day, well, the men are anyway! So when we came back for series two, like everyone
does, we knew what we’d done wrong and what was right. We got an amazing script editor on board, something we’ve never had before and she really helped us structure these sorts of things and develop the characters. It feels like such a massive leap from series one. So yeah, I’m just excited to get it out there.
Q: Did you feel a pressure coming back the second time around or was it easier in a way because the characters were established?
A: Yeah, I think it wasn’t so much a pressure, I think we’re quite lucky in that it felt part of the furniture quite early on ITV. So we weren’t that smash the first album and you worry about the second. It was just a solid thing that everybody liked. So it was more a solid base to build from as opposed to a really hyped-up thing. To a lot of people that would sound quite glib, but it actually isn’t. Especially having worked on Love Island where it is this phenomenon, it is nice to make something that can slowly build. A lot of my favourite stuff did, not that I’m in any way making a comparison, but if you look at something like Schitt’s Creek, which became absolutely loved as they announced they were making the last series of it, do you know what I mean? It’s quite nice to have that. I think series two could do that, I do genuinely think series two is just so solid and so fun. We’ve gone a lot lighter and a lot sillier and a lot more character-based rather than story based. So the only pressure was the pressure that me and Steve put on ourselves to make it work. The effort that goes into a 25-minute scripted show compared to what goes into a 25-minute panel show, from a creative side anyways, it’s unbelievable. It’s a year of my life as opposed to 10 days of my life. So I’m a lot more invested in this just because I’ve poured so much of my time, love, and effort into it.
Q: You mentioned you’d made tweaks to this series, what differences do you think you needed to bring into this series?
A: I think we’ve brought it a lot more into the flat. I think it’s a lot more of a flatshare sitcom. My character’s background in kids’ TV, that’s still really heavy in there, but it’s a nice world to break it up and to bring in comedy because that’s basically what the kids’ TV was like. The kids’ TV story came from the fact that every time I tried to talk to my friends and family seriously about my job, it’s just innately funny. If I was talking about how I was nervous because I was working with Dick and Dom next week, they would laugh that I said Dick and Dom. So it’s a lot more about friends in a flat and how they navigate life. The show’s called Buffering and I don’t think it really came across in the first year, but it’s called Buffering because all the characters are trying to load into adult life. That’s the idea. So this series is about all those stages you go through as you’re approaching being a proper adult. Your friends are getting married, your friends are having kids and you’re struggling to pay rent and it just feels like you’re not a grown up yet, but you’re not an adult. It’s that in between no man’s land.
Q: Like the moment you swap house parties for dinner parties and don’t really know how that happened?
A: Yeah, David Carlisle’s in that episode. I’m a massive fan, I saw him at the BAFTAs when he had his nomination. I think he agreed to it because he was just like, “This is so many of my friends.” Which is what you want really when you’re trying to get someone involved in a show and they just read it and go, “yeah this is perfect”. And ironically the house was a walk from his actual house. I’d like to not think that’s the only reason he accepted the job! I think that dinner party episode is the perfect example of what I’m talking about, where you just find yourself airdropping into this world where your friends are grown up.
Q: Is there a moment in your real life when you found yourself buffering between two eras?
A: I just generally get it all the time! I have moments where if I’m making a spaghetti bolognese I will have this almost out of body experience where I’m like, “I can’t believe I’m doing this”. I’m a parent, so pretty much every time I do anything that involves looking after a child, the whole time I’m going, “I can’t believe this”. Every bath time I’m like, “I cannot believe I am washing a kid. This is insane.” I think that dinner party episode is pretty close to life. When I was in my mid 20s and kids’ TV actually moved up to Manchester and people could buy houses instead of flats, I’d go around a friend’s house and nights out definitely changed overnight from a few drinks in a flat to people bringing out Shiitake mushrooms, like, “What is going on?”.
Q: You take inspiration from your own life when writing the show, is there anything that’s happened in your 20s that’s too naughty to put in this show?
A: Well, the great thing about scripted is there’s nothing I can’t put in there because everyone can remain nameless! I always find it quite stressful back in the day when I was doing interviews or stand-up and I have to talk about other people, like my wife or my parents or anyone, I was always worried that they’ve not signed up for this. I’m getting better at it, but it’s always a niggle in the back of my mind. But the great thing about scripted is there’ll be people that watch the show and go, “He’s a major prick”, but also there’s never one specific character that is one specific person from my life. It’s always an amalgamation. Even me, I play myself and I’m called Iain and there is stuff in
there that I actually did do when I was in my 20s. There was definitely a point when I thought I was going to be the next Bill Hicks, but I was actually talking to a puppet dog called Hacker, dressed as Queen Victoria thinking this isn’t what I saw myself doing in my 20s.
Q: You have famous faces that pop up in the show, what’s the thinking behind that?
A: Basically, what we love doing on Buffering and one of the things I’m the most proud of is we get those ITV faces and put them into a scripted comedy. Someone like Melvin Odoom from this series who you wouldn’t expect to see acting or Vicky Patterson who was in series one and was actually amazing. I’m always so happy when I get someone like Vic because people, especially from scripted world, don’t really know her. I knew how brilliant she would be and she was.
Q: How did you come to cast your wife, Laura Whitmore, in the show as the channel controller, Vic?
A: It’s weird, although she is my wife, there’s this no-brainer where you’ve got someone really known by the ITV audience and is currently acting in a West End play. Obviously you’d try and get that person. Do you know what I mean? You’d be mad not to. There was little bits written in for my own personal amusement, I still laugh every time I see it. There’s a bit where she’s physically repulsed by me. I just find it so funny that it’s just her going, “Oh, he’s vile”, and I’m like, “I’ve definitely seen that face before!”
Q: Is Laura’s character based on anyone real from the world of TV?
A: I think anyone that’s watching TV will have met a Vic, just so high up, doesn’t care anymore. I’m quite lucky I’ve got on with everyone but there is one boss from kids’ TV that she is strongly influenced by. Who shall remain nameless! But they’ve also got their endearing quality. The worst thing with bosses like that when you worked in kids’ TV is they would bring their kids in, but their kids grew up in that world. So they were the most unimpressed kids you’ve ever met in your entire life. They did not want to be there and then because it was the boss’ kid, you had to be nice to these little shits!
Q: What was it like having Laura on set and how easy is it working with your wife?
A: Yeah, it was really good. Actually, it’s funny because when we did Love Island together, we were always asked about that quite a lot. But we didn’t work together on Love Island at all. We were very rarely in the same building let alone being on the same show. We’ve started doing a podcast which again is working together but it is just us talking nonsense for a couple of hours a week and someone records it and edits it, so all the work element of it is taken out. So it was really nice actually. And it was long filming days. We got to get in the car together. It was nice getting up in the morning and getting our coffees. It felt like having an office job, you have a 9-5, going into the office together. So it was really nice. This sounds a bit wet, but it is mad watching her, because Laura has got an acting background and for three, four months she’s been in this play. So her acting muscles are so sharp. So it’s quite cool watching your wife be really good at her thing. It’s sexy, do you know what I mean? Watching her being really brilliant at a skill. I just love seeing her do it. So it was nice.
Q: Do you think people might be surprised by the character she plays because Vic is very foul mouthed?
A: She really swears! Laura swears in the play as well. I’ve been to see it seven times and every time I cannot believe it. She uses words that she will not allow in the house! So yeah, it’s great. That was part of the fun of it. We wrote this character as a ballbuster and all that. And then Steve said, “I wonder if Laura would be up for this”. And what’s great is when it comes to work stuff, we always keep it work. So I never asked Laura, we sent the script to her agent, obviously don’t get me wrong, we are married and we are in a house together, she knew it was happening. But it got sent to her agent, her agent replied to the production. So it wasn’t done over cornflakes in the morning, absolutely not! We’ve no time, we’ve got nappies to change and bottles to fill! There’s no time for contract discussions, unfortunately. Once we knew she was doing it we then got to tweak the script and that’s when the little thing of her finding Iain repulsive were added in. Which again I think is quite nice because if you know me and Laura, it adds a little something. But I don’t think you need to know that me and Laura are a couple to find that aspect of her character funny. So yeah, honestly it was such a treat!
Thank you to everyone at Avalon for working with us at The Backstage Centre, and we wish Iain, the cast, and the production team a great reception to its first airing on Monday 30th January at 10.05pm, ITV2.
Avalon is a multi-award-winning talent management, television production, and live promotion group with offices in London, Los Angeles and New York.
Avalon, Artist Rights Group (ARG), and The Agency represent a prolific roster of artists including comedians, actors, presenters, writers, and directors. Avalon’s numerous ground-breaking returning television shows currently in production include: Not Going Out (BBC), the UK’s longest-running sitcom on air; Taskmaster (Channel 4), the BAFTA-winning hit entertainment format showing in 150 countries; multi Emmy-winning, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO); The Russell Howard Hour (Sky), one of the network’s most successful entertainment show launches since 2010; Starstruck (HBO Max/BBC), a sitcom from Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Rose Matafeo; Buffering (ITV), a sitcom co-created by and starring BAFTA-winning comedian and voice of Love Island, Iain Stirling.
Breeders, the comedy series starring Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard (FX/Sky); the immediately recommissioned, The Chris & Rosie Ramsey Show (BBC); a brand-new series of the iconic comedy football show blending football fanaticism with celebrity chat, Fantasy Football League (Sky); and multiple comedy specials for Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max and Netflix.
Other landmark Avalon shows include BAFTA winning and multi Emmy-nominated Catastrophe (Amazon Prime Video/Channel 4), multi BAFTA-winning TV Burp (ITV), and Workaholics (Comedy Central USA). Avalon also distributes its catalogue of programmes to over 150 countries worldwide.
Avalon has produced many globally successful podcasts and is regularly at the top of the UK iTunes chart with the multi-award-winning Shagged. Married. Annoyed by Chris and Rosie Ramsey.
As a leading promoter of live comedy, Avalon produced Newman and Baddiel: Live at Wembley, the UK’s first arena comedy show; Jerry Springer: The Opera, the first West End show to win all four UK ‘Best New Musical’ awards; and has continued to produce and promote live shows globally, as well as promoting more winners and nominees of the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award than any other company.
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