In the BBC comedy The Tuckers, Ben McGregor plays Bobby Tucker across both series already released, working with the show’s creator Steve Speirs (who plays Glyn Tucker), and Ben continues his role in Series 3 which is due to air later this year. It has recently been announced that The Tuckers will be airing on BBC Two starting 21st July at 10pm. Last year, Ben played DC Griffiths in TV series The Pact, and his previous screen roles have included playing Andy in Leprechaun Returns, Kevin in the 2014 mini-series The Passing Bells, and his first TV role was regular character Ian in the CBBC drama Young Dracula. Ben has also worked in theatre, which has seen him perform at the Sydney Opera House in Australia in Adventures in the Skin Trade, playing lead character Samuel Bennett. Answering our questions, Ben talks about filming The Tuckers for BBC, playing Bobby Tucker in the comedy and his time as DC Griffiths in The Pact.
You play Bobby Tucker in The Tuckers for BBC, can you tell us about your character and what do you enjoy most about playing him?
Bobby Tucker works for the family business Tuckers Catering, but they do all sorts to try to keep their heads above water. Bobby lives at home with his nan and dad sleeping in bunk beds below his brother (they are in their thirties) while his ex-wife and daughter live in the house next door. Bobby isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but as the series go on, more often than not, he’s right! He wears his heart on his sleeve and that’s a lot of fun to play. The family scenes with everyone in are the most enjoyable. We all have a laugh together making the show and those days when we are all in can be very long but they are often ones where I’ve laughed the most.
Was there anything that drew you to the series and what was it like reading the script for the first time?
The Tuckers started in 2018 with just a pilot that was being played as part of the Festival of Funny, on the BBC. It did really well so then it was commissioned for one series and then another two more. My initial feeling was that Steve (Speirs) had nailed it, in terms of capturing the voices and dynamics of families in the Welsh valleys. I’m from the valleys and I recognise the people in the show. The nicknames, the strong women in charge, the antics. It rings true. It was all there in the pilot episode and Steve’s done a great job growing the show from Episode 1. I love getting the new scripts through and seeing what’s next.
How is the experience on set of the series and working with the rest of the cast, which includes Steve Speirs, who created the show?
It starts with Steve and the atmosphere he creates on set. He’s always open to ideas and talking stuff through. On set, he helps make it fun and relaxed for the rest of us. I’ve known Kim (Nixon) since primary school, and we’ve worked together on Fresh Meat. Alex (Riley), we did The Pact together too, and me and Josh (McCord) have been friends for years. We call Lynn (Hunter) – Nan, and Bob Pugh is hilarious! You couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of people. They’re all brilliant.
Who do you think The Tuckers will appeal to and why would you recommend watching it?
Welsh people, obviously, but I do think the themes and characters are universal. We can all recognise the characters in people we know wherever we are from. It does have an element of Only Fools and Horses, in the way that they try and make money wheeling and dealing, but that’s something we can all relate too. Josh, who plays Billy, is hilarious, just watch it to see the things Steve puts him up to do. Josh is always game, and when he was in his dog collar on set, I couldn’t keep it together. Steve and Bob are great together. The scenes with Murphy berating Glyn are some of my favourites.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from playing the character so far?
It’s got to be the conga line at the funeral.
Last year, you played DC Griffiths in The Pact, what was this like?
It was weird, because it was during the pandemic. We had to wear masks on set and only take them off when it was time to shoot. We would rehearse in masks then take them off and it felt completely different seeing their faces. It was amazing how they managed to pull it off with all the testing that needed to be done and the work that went into getting everyone to and from the set. It was amazing. I felt very lucky to be working. Concentrating on the show helped me get through it, I had a focus and a place to be. I was very grateful.
How was it seeing the response to the series and working on the storyline?
It was brilliantly written by Pete McTighe and everyone did a great job. You always hope to be a part of something that connects with people and that people like. The response was great, I had people asking me who did it but then not wanting to know the answer in case it spoilt it. That’s what you want, people to be invested.
What was it like working on the feature film Leprechaun Returns as Andy?
I was out in South Africa for a month but only shot for five days, I had a blast! I cage dived with great white sharks, climbed Table Mountain, played some tennis. It was great. The filming itself was cool, they built the house from scratch in order to blow it up. I rocked up, got killed by the leprechaun and then sipped some cocktails by the pool. The dream.
What are some of your stand-out memories from playing Kevin in the 2014 mini-series The Passing Bells?
We filmed in Poland over the summer. Some of those shooting days were rough. It was boiling hot, and we were in the trenches wearing putties and overcoats pretending it’s a bitterly cold winter. Aside from that, we had a great time. A bunch of young lads working and living together in a different country, it was great. I met one of my best friends working on The Passing Bells. The scope of the project was the biggest I’d seen in terms of the size of the set and the cast involved. It was a big learning curve.
Your first TV experience was playing Ian in the CBBC series Young Dracula, what do you remember most from working on this project?
The main thing I remember was how nervous I was on the first day. We were in the Branagh house doing a scene rehearsal when Joss (Agnew), the director, called for a crew rehearsal and this living room filled with people. Joss was great and very patient. That’s where I learned to get comfortable in front of the camera. I learned on the job about hitting the mark and how to read a call sheet. The experience was invaluable.
We understand you’ve worked in theatre, what are some of the shows you’ve performed in over the years and can you say more about them?
The stand-out would be performing a Dylan Thomas play at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. The play was called Adventures in the Skin Trade, and I played Samuel Bennett, the lead role. We only had a short time together to rehearse and just remember spending hours and hours learning the lines trying to make sense of the speeches. The language was beautiful, and once I had got to grips with it and the story, then being able to perform that at the Sydney Opera House was a dream come true. I performed it as part of Theatr Iolo, where we toured Sydney and Melbourne. Definitely a highlight.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
When I was 16, my stepdad read in the paper that there was an open audition for a lead role in a film shooting in Wales. I ripped out the article and wrote a letter to the casting director asking to audition. She wrote back saying come along and put your telephone number down next time. I went and long story short got the part, but I was very green so I joined Bridgend Youth Theatre where I learned about working on stage and in musicals, and that’s where I auditioned for Young Dracula. Somewhere between working on Young Dracula and performing for BYT on stage is where I fell in love with acting and performing. After Young Dracula, I then thought maybe I can make a career out of this.
Do you have any favourite films and TV shows to watch?
I loved Ozark on Netflix, but more recently I’ve been catching up on the Apple TV shows. I really enjoyed WeCrashed and Slow Horses. I think Apple are making some really interesting programmes at the minute. I do love a good documentary and anything involving history, Romans, Renaissance, WW2, anything if it’s well-made.
What upcoming plans do you have that you are able to talk about?
The Tuckers Series 3 comes out end of this year on the BBC. It’s my favourite series so far, we’ve got some great guest stars involved and I think it’ll be a cracker!
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