Few sitcoms have captured the imagination, and made us laugh quite so much in recent years, as The Inbetweeners. Three seasons, 18 episodes and two box office triumphs, there’s just something about these four characters that holds so much resonance with the public. Perhaps it’s their endearing, pathetic sensibilities, their inability to actually talk to anyone of the opposite sex without making a fool of themselves, or the fact at least one would take a briefcase to school. Anyhow, they struck a chord with the audience, and these four introverts felt like our real, genuine friends. But with that comes the fear of type-casting, as they become so synonymous with the roles that viewers can struggle to see the actors as anybody else. But that is immensely unfair – so here we take a look at the leading quartet to see how they’ve faired in a world post-Inbetweeners, when the boys have all grown up, left school, and entered the big bad world.
The star of The Festival (which is really, really funny) when it comes to life beyond Rudge Park Comprehensive, Thomas has arguably had the best track record, from a comedic point of view anyway. It’s appearances on the small screen which are testament to this, starring in both Fresh Meat and White Gold. But it’s back in cinema where he’s illuminating once more – tapping in to that distinctive comedic sensibility, and while not too much of a test for the actor, his role as Nick in The Festival perfectly encapsulates everything we like about him. That loser quality, which, sadly, is all too relatable. It’s a role he’s evidently rather good at, and he’s not afraid to bare all (again) on screen, and with that in mind, the more roles like this he takes on, the better.
In some ways, Will was the real star of The Inbetweeners, representing the entry point, a semblance of normality amidst the chaos. Though, as a tried, tested and triumphant comedic trope, though purporting to be normal he’s evidently as bananas as the rest of the collective. Bird has utilised that strength and enriched other shows off the back of it – particularly sitcom Friday Night Dinner. He’s worked alongside Thomas in a couple of other productions, such as Chickens and The Darkest Universe, and has also graced the silver screen, with supporting roles in The Look of Love and You, Me and Him, sharing the screen with the likes of Steve Coogan and David Tennant, respectively.
Of all the stars, James Buckley has certainly been the most busy – and while his character Jay would say that to show off, in actual fact, it’s spot-on. He’s taken risks too and transcended genres, with roles in the likes of Charlie Countryman, alongside Shia LaBeouf and he even dabbled in horror, in the inventive found-footage endeavour The Pyramid. But it’s fair to say he’s most at home in comedy, and that much was evident with his performances in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, and his lead turn in The Comedian’s Guide to Survival, where he plays a beleaguered, cynical stand-up, who probably shares more similarities to the actor than he’d like to admit. He also couldn’t resist an Inbetweeners reunion himself, as he played alongside Thomas in White Gold, utilising their pre-established chemistry to create pretty good telly.
Dramatically speaking, Blake Harrison is leading the pack at the moment, and while the dim-witted Neil is certainly a role very close to the actor, he’s flexing his dramatic chops and appearing in really good stuff, with a career outside of comedy beckoning. This became clear with his role in Keeping Rosy alongside Maxine Peake, where he turned nasty, and was rather convincing when doing so. He’s also in Prime Suspect 1973 and the excellent BBC drama series A Very English Scandal, with Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw. But, that all being said, he did veer back into comedic territory, perfectly cast as Pike in the (somewhat disappointing) Dad’s Army reboot – the sort of role you’d have anticipated he play post-Neil, but as it stands, certainly one the sort that will end up defining him.
The Festival is out in cinemas now. Watch our interview with Joe Thomas & Iain Morris here.