It’s a no-brainer. When you’re the wife of a comedian whose legendary acting role is that of a prankster always up for some excruciatingly embarrassing fun and you’re hubby’s just turned the big 3-0 there’s only one way to celebrate the momentous day.
You surprise him by sending him and his mates to a city renowned as party central. The obvious choice is not Amsterdam, Magaluf or Ibiza. The Inbetweeners, White Gold and Zapped star James Buckley tells Student Rag’s Susie Daniels how he was treated to a surprise birthday in the best city with the biggest comedy festival in the world – Edinburgh!
James enthused: “It was my birthday mid-August so my wife surprised me and planned a trip. “She woke me up at 6.30 in the morning and she had organised a trip for me and my friends to Edinburgh. “We did a bit of target practice. Clay pigeon shooting – I would never shoot anything alive! “We spent some time at the Fringe and some white-water rafting. It was amazing!”
The Essex-born comedy actor has had a strong affinity with Scotland ever since he met Scottish wife Claire, whom he married at Dundas Castle near Edinburgh in 2012. Their sons Harrison and Jude were born in Ayrshire and now that they are primary and nursery school age James wears his sensible dad hat while thinking of his days as a bit of a joker in school.
James recalls: “In school I treated myself as a comedy character. All I was interested in was trying to make people laugh.
“I was lucky that I’ve made a career of it but I wouldn’t give that advice (to muck around) to young people.
“The message I’d always give is to do stuff you enjoy and find fun in it. Be clever and smart.
“Unfortunately at that time in my life when I was a teenager I wasn’t interested in learning.”
Thankfully for the comedy actor a pursuit in that field did pay off and amongst other roles he starred in Hollywood mockumentary blockbuster Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping last year where he appeared alongside Arcade Fire, Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Simon Cowell (as himself, of course).
Though James’s big break was in Bafta Award-winning The Inbetweeners, created by Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, as a young teenager he was already beginning to carve an acting career.
James made a name for himself at the age of fourteen when he starred in BBC sitcom ‘Orrible’ as well as West End theatre productions Les Miserables and Whistle Down The Wind.
He also had parts in Skins, Holby City and Teachers and in his spare time the gaming geek started his own You Tube gaming Channel ‘Completed It Mate’ last year so hard work clearly pays off no matter what career path you’ve chosen.
James will star in the second series of Zapped, a wacky comedy where Brian Weaver (Buckley) a temp office worker opens a package and is transposed to magical fantasy-land Munty, run by burly-looking fairies.
Brian spends his time desperately trying to return home while having to deal with a deranged wizard played by comedy genius Paul Kaye (Google Dennis Pennis Demi Moore interview!), Slasher Morgan played by Smack The Pony actress/writer Sally Phillips and soothsayer Barbara, played by My Mad Fat Diary Scottish actress Sharon Rooney. Starring in the second series of Zapped, James explains why the comedy has the potential to run and run: “Zapped is really good and unusual. It’s comedy and you’re sort of in a situation that’s a bit more different.
“The trend since The Office has been work-based sitcoms so it’s nice to break away from that. “It’s always best for me doing comedy. You’re usually surrounded by funny people and it makes the job fun!
“I always think that you can feel when something is going to do well and you’ve got everything out of the character. I feel there’s a lot more left in Brian. It would be nice to do some more. I don’t like what’s popular in comedy. It’s always the good stuff that doesn’t last long. The annoying stuff runs and runs. What’s great about a sitcom like this is it was inevitable with The Inbetweeners that the schoolboys grow up and we’re never going to be able to play schoolchildren forever but the story in Zapped can go on and on.
“It’s certainly the family-friendlier of the shows I’ve done compared to The Inbetweeners and White Gold. It appeals to a wider-aged audience. The show reminds me of Black Adder and Red Dwarf – a guy stuck in a situation surrounded by idiots!”
The new series will have fantastical creatures to rival Harry Potter (wash my mouth out) ranging from orcs, lizards, psychopathic fairies and stingbugs to blood suckers.
James recalls when he was growing up there was a particular fairytale character that left him with some awful nightmares.
He reveals: “I’ve never, ever told anyone this but oddly enough I did have a recurring nightmare. “When I was a little kid I had a book of fairytales and the story with the big bad wolf was always depicted as a really evil, scary-looking wolf. I found him terrifying and I used to have recurring dreams of the wolf on his hind legs. I think I had too much of an imagination.”
The star had to stretch his imagination even further when he starred in his second cameo role in Space comedy Red Dwarf.
For James it was a dream come true to star in Red Dwarf. He eagerly states: “I love Red Dwarf! I’m in the next series of it and have a little cameo role again.
“You might not recognise me but you’ll recognise my voice.” And that’s not all in the pipeline. The comedy actor has begun writing so will wait to see the outcome of his new projects. “I’ve got a few projects at the moment that I’m looking into,” James says. “I can’t reveal what they are but I’ve had various feedback from people which is nice. My mentality is I don’t know how you tell if it’s very good or what other people want.”
Zapped series 2 is out on Dave on October 12th