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Almost Royal – Ed Gamble & Amy Hoggart interview

We talk to the stars of the faux documentary comedy series.

Almost Royal

Almost Royal is coming to the UK on E4 this Sunday fresh from its ratings triumph in the US.

The show is a tale of two young British aristocrats on their first trip around the United States, interacting with real-life Americans. Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart portray Georgie and Poppy, distant relatives of the Royal Family and head to the US to undertake a ‘royal tour’ fooling plenty of Americans along the way.

We caught up with Ed and Amy to find out more about the show, talk about faking it and to discuss what their favourite moments from the series are.

Hi guys. Where does this Q&A find you today?

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Ed: I am at the Edinburgh Festival performing my hour long stand up show every night. My venue is hotter than a big fire and I have never sweated more. Overall, a lot of fun.

Amy: I’m in my new favourite cafe – Vantra on Oxford Street. You’d think it’d be horrible because of the location, but actually it’s wonderful. The food’s delicious and the decor is mad: everything’s made of wood and it feels a bit primal. I like to sit here pretending I’m visiting Fred and Wilma Flintstone’s cave for a vegan curry supper.

Your new show Almost Royal starts in the UK on Sunday. What do we need to know about the show?

Ed: We travelled round the US posing as aristocrats distantly in line to the throne. The people we interact with are under the impression that we are actually Georgie & Poppy Carlton and that we are filming a reality series/documentary. We basically got to act like idiots and get ourselves into some pretty idiotic situations. I think the thing to bear in mind is that the show is never designed to make real people look stupid – it is always the characters that come off looking silly. That was always our aim going in and I think it’s something we’ve achieved.

Amy: That it’s hilariously funny and definitely worth staying in for on Sunday nights. And that your other plans just fell through anyway so now you’ve nothing else on (so sorry).

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How did you get to grips with the characters and what preparation did you do to make sure you were convincing?

Amy: We did lots of writing preparation and had an amazing team behind us. Also we ended up spending hours and hours every day for weeks pretending to be Poppy and Georgie. When you’re dressed like that and have been doing that accent for so long, it’s hard to break it even when you’re on a lunch-break. Ed would even occasionally would to go to the loo in character. But only when he knew the sound guy had forgotten to turn his mic pack off.

Ed: The characters were really shaped in the long writing sessions that myself and Amy had with the writers Sam Martin and Tom Neenan before we flew out. This is where we would come up with lines that we could possibly get in during the different scenarios – so we always had something to work with in the back of our minds when we went in. Obviously, we were dealing with real people, so we could never guarantee that the stars would align and our joke would be set up for us, but it was always handy to have a lot of ideas when we were thrown into the situations.

During the series you visit 7 American cities. Which was your favourite to visit and why?

Amy: Can I cheat and say all of them? Nashville was insane amounts of fun, I’ve never met such lovely people nor drunk so much bourbon while listening to Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton. Boston and the surrounding countryside were beautiful in the autumn. Detroit was sad and fascinating, wonderful and scary. I felt like we really got out teeth into the political stuff in Washington DC, and that’s where I’m from originally so I got to see lovely friends and eat home-cooked food. LA was the most fun in terms of comedy as we did lots of great things like meeting a plastic surgeon, getting on set of the Bold and the Beautiful and doing Hollywood castings. Texas was crazy and BBQ-flavoured and we did lots of fun outdoorsy things. And then New York was incredible because it’s New York and I love that about it.

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Ed: In terms of the show and the finished product it has to be LA – that is probably my favourite episode. I honestly think it could’ve been twice as long – everybody we met was so credulous and accommodating that we just ran riot. The visit to the Bold & The Beautiful for example lasted about 3 hours in reality and was essentially me and Amy stifling laughter for that long. Personally I love New York and getting and opportunity to spend a little more time there was great – and we had a couple of great nights out in DC.

What has been your favourite moment from filming the series so far?

Ed: Any moment where Amy got to sing is always hugely entertaining. Not that she isn’t a wonderful singer…it’s just that…no she’s terrible and it’s hilarious. There’s so many moments that I will never forget – but catching a catfish with my hands has got to be way up there.

Amy: I loved walking down the run-way in New York looking both really dreadful and completely happy. Plus noodling in Tennessee. I didn’t do anything really in that scene. Ed had to catch a 50lb catfish with his bare arm in the middle of a freezing cold lake while I sat on a boat on the water surrounded by mountains feeling peaceful.

Tell us how you both got involved with the show.

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Ed: I auditioned for it. It’s honestly the only time I can remember actually enjoying an audition – there was no script to learn, it was just a case of “be posh and start talking.” I was over the moon when I found out I had got it – and then even happier when I found out Amy was playing Poppy – we’d worked together in the past and I knew how good she was despite being a real diva.

Amy: Yes, we both auditioned. I think it was because one of the producers saw a video of me which my Mum shot in the kitchen where I do a posh accent. Actually she features in that video too, but unfortunately didn’t also end up getting a part.

The show has already been a hit in the US. Why do you think Americans love the British Royal Family so much?

Amy: I’ve never worked that out. I think it’s such a traditional part of Britain which they just don’t have any equivalent of? Or maybe it’s all the weddings and hats?

Ed: It’s a phenomenon that is completely culturally bizarre to people who don’t have royal families. If you try and think about it as an outsider, as somebody who hasn’t grown up in this country, it really is weird. There’s basically a lady with a sparkly hat on who goes about the place with nothing in her handbag and people line the streets. No wonder they’re fascinated.

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How easy did you find it to convince Americans that you really were part of British royalty?

Amy: Really easy, because it was already done by the time we got on set. The producers did all the hard work convincing the contributors and then we just walked in and tried to be funny without giving the game away.

Ed: The harder part was saying some of the things we were saying whilst also trying to make sure they didn’t kick us out!

Why should UK viewers tune in to Almost Royal?

Ed: Is it arrogant to say that I think it’s really funny? If it is, sorry. It’s crammed with jokes and I really think we achieved what we set out to do and have made this really unique and strange show. Also, I wear a cravat so that must be a good reason?

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Amy: Because Ed’s completely brilliant in it and we both make fools of ourselves a lot. Whatever genre of TV you’re into, there’s something for you. It’s comedy, but also a sort of travel show with sports, (unreciprocated) romance, interviews, music, politics, fashion, cars, rodeo and fish. I would describe it as a very sexy show with informative undertones and hints of nuts.

What other projects do you both have coming up this year?

Ed: I’m doing a lot of stand up and some bits and pieces of acting as they come up. Mainly though, I’ll be hauling myself up and down the country performing jokes in a venue near you (depending on who you are and where you are.)

Amy: I’m writing a lot and also going back out to the States. I’ve not got loads of plans to be honest. There’s Christmas (near the end of the year usually), my brother Richard’s birthday’s before that and I’m looking forward to seeing my friends this weekend. Probably do a load of laundry soon too! Big things.

Almost Royal will launch on Sunday 10th August, 10pm, E4. Check out the trailer for the show below:

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