13 Jan 2012
Five middle-aged ex-classmates gather at a villa in Majorca for a school reunion… but within hours it’s turned into a living nightmare as one of them is murdered and the others find themselves tangling with heavy-duty criminals and corrupt coppers while loaded down with laundered money.
That was the plot for the hit first series of Sky1’s black comedy Mad Dogs, and now they’re back. With the pals still stuck on the island and up to their necks in trouble, this time they’re on the run.
Star Philip Glenister says, ‘Every time we head down one alleyway there’s another obstacle and we can’t escape. We don’t really know who’s after us or why. We just know we’ve got some money that doesn’t belong to us, and we’re being chased by some pretty evil people.’
The new series meant a reunion for the cast – Glenister, John Simm, Max Beesley and Marc Warren – as well as Ben Chaplin, whose character Alvo was shot dead by a gangster wearing a Tony Blair mask in the first episode of series one, but makes a surprise return for a series of flashbacks.
Celebrity egos being the size they are, it’s unusual to find a TV series that gives equal billing to such a number of leading men. So you might assume employing these heavyweights of British TV drama (and Hollywood, in Chaplin’s case) would lead to a miserable set full of seething resentment and backbiting. Yet they all insist filming Mad Dogs is one of the most enjoyable jobs they’ve ever done and during breaks from shooting the actors hung out together.
‘John fell asleep outside his villa the other week and woke up with me, nearly naked, lying next to him sunbathing,’ admits Beesley. This real-life chemistry helped make the first series of Mad Dogs such a hit, and they’re hoping it’ll guarantee success for series two.
‘If you’re going to spend eight weeks in each other’s pockets, as we have,’ says Glenister, ‘you’ve got to be able to have a laugh, and we really do. Everyone’s got a great sense of humour. We laugh constantly. We were nervous at the beginning because of who we were, so there was an expectation. But the first one did all right, so fingers crossed this will be a worthy successor.’
This series sees a change of pace from the claustrophobic setting of the villa in the first series, as the pals attempt to shake off their pursuers by going on the run and trying to leave the island. Their terrifying journey sees them encounter criminal godfathers, drug factories and voodoo witches in what ends up playing like a road movie, and it certainly took its toll on the stars.
‘There was a good vibe when we were shooting the first series,’ says Beesley, ‘but we’re all a bit more knackered this time. There are 78 locations in this series compared to 24 last year, so we ended up schlepping all over the island. But it’s great because we’re getting to film in all these amazing places.’
The dynamic between the stars works so well a third series has already been written and will begin filming soon in South Africa. ‘We get together every few months now we’re onto our third series,’ says Glenister. ‘We talk about it like we’re in a band. We go off and do our solo projects, then regroup and say, “Hey guys, let’s make a new album, Mad Dogs On Tour.” But our first album was pretty good so it’s hard to follow up. We just hope the viewers will enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed filming it.’
Mad Dogs, Sky1, Thursday, 9pm.