Gaming and animation in a TV show is clearly a viewer-pleaser thanks to last year’s popular E4 drama Kiss Me First.
Now Dead Pixels takes E4 into the computer animation comedy realm and centres on office worker mates Meg (Alexa), Nicky (Will), flatmate Alison (Charlotte) and friend Usman, whose world revolves around their obsession for a massively popular fantasy role-playing game. Susie Daniels chatted to Alexa (Raised by Wolves), Charlotte Ritchie (Fresh Meat) and Will Merrick (Skins, Poldark) about the hilarious new comedy and its strong preference for toilet humour…
So, let’s see. How many words for sex and genitals are there in Dead Pixels?
Alexa: I know. There’s so many we’re literally saying them all the time. There’s a moment in episode six where my character refers to her privates as her ‘granny in the basement’. It’s really funny and it felt like such a safe environment to say all these words and phrases.
Will: I didn’t think it was that crude. It is elaborate some of the descriptions. I found it hard to get the words out of my mouth. Like when Meg talks about how she needs ‘valuable zinc deposits’.
Alexa: It’s just like breathing saying all these words in the script.
Charlotte: (laughs) It’s the awful mind of John Brown.
Alexa: (laughs) I feel like I use them a lot more now like ‘nubbin’.
Will: (laughs) And I think it fluidly moves in between talking about masturbation and gaming.
Has gaming been a thing for any of you?
Alexa: It’s always been a part of my life. I shared a PS2 with my sister and played Airblade (extreme sports) and Burnout (high-speed racing) and it’s evolved with me as I’ve grown. I’ve got an impressive collection of gaming equipment from PS’s to Nintendos and Nintendo Switch, although hopefully now I’ve said that I hope nobody’s going to rob my house. For me it’s been really lovely game-playing.
If you’d had the choice, what avatar would you have chosen in Dead Pixels?
Charlotte: (my character) Alison doesn’t get involved. It’s a bit like a lot of your parents feelings for game-playing. Alison feels it’s a huge waste of time and would rather read a book or play the flute. I’d love it if my character developed and either got annoyingly good at it or so bad at it that she had a breakdown. To her the game-playing of the others is a sweet obsession.
Charlotte, your character plays the flute in Dead Pixels. Do you play in real life or did you need to learn for the show?
Charlotte: My sister plays the flute and I hadn’t played it but in secret I borrowed it.
Alexa, what about an avatar for you if you chose it?
Alexa: I love Greta (avatar) but if I was choosing I’d maybe choose a woman in streetfighter to look strong and powerful and Amazonian-looking. Maybe not wearing bikini-clad boobs like Usman’s but more like Emily Blunt’s character in Edge of Tomorrow.
And an avatar for you, Will?
Will: I would go with what Nicky my character’s done. With more of myself in it. With a bionic arm. It’s kind of weird that Usman’s avatar’s a wizard that’s a little boy.
Nicky and Meg house-share and their bedrooms are next door. Though she chats up other guys miserably, Nicky and Meg kind of have a will they/won’t they feel about their relationship…
Will: There’s definitely a ‘will they, won’t they’ with Meg and Nicky. I don’t think they understand their feelings.
Alexa: It’s a lovely idea of two introverts coming together after talking through a wall.
The show looks like it’s going to be plagued with embarrassing seduction and chat-up storylines that have the potential to go horribly wrong. Has that ever happened to any of you in real life?
Alexa: Oh, too many I wouldn’t want to mention or know where to start.
Will: (to Alexa) It sounds like you had a wealth of stories.
Charlotte: I did once try to seduce someone by showing all my books! We were studying and I remember he was going to leave the room and had pulled the zip up on his red anorak and I got my books out on Space and then he unzipped his jacket. He wasn’t up for me being a nerdy type but when I got the Space books out…
Are any of the embarrassing scenes in Dead Pixels ones you’d prefer family not to see?
Alexa: In episode six there’s a lot of costumes. It’s Meg, Nikky and Russell and I remember trying on the costume and the show producers are there and I remember being very embarrassed. I hump a chair. There’s quite a few embarrassing moments in that episode. I’m going to advise my parents to not watch that one. Because we filmed it a year and a half ago but it’s coming out now it’s remembering bits and bobs and thinking, ‘oh, my nan can’t watch that’.
Charlotte, if you were chatted up by Dead Pixels phrases such as there’s a ‘stirrin’ in the
nobbin’ would that be acceptable patter?
Charlotte: It would be less bad if I knew the person and I suppose it depends on the context but if it was just someone I didn’t know trying it as a chat up then I would tell them where to go. The great thing about the script is it’s not gratuitously stupid. There’s funny comments like Meg’s ‘granny’s in the basement and she needs her porridge’.
Do you girls feel there’s a wave of comedy dramas such as Catastrophe and Raised by Wolves that have led to uninhibited woman being the new woman?
Alexa: Massively. I never properly noticed it before. I’ve been lucky to work on Raised By Wolves and Harlots in feminist roles so talking about our bodies felt normal. It didn’t register when Meg talked about her body because I’m used to it but the men would giggle.
Was it odd reading and learning all those sex-chat lines knowing a guy had written it?
Alexa: I’ve been in shows where a woman talking about her anatomy’s only been written by women but writer Jon Brown (Fresh Meat) didn’t shy away from writing it. I loved the fact that he never held back.
Charlotte: It’s great when people are honest about their mind.
Dead Pixels is on Thursdays at 9.30pm on E4.