“Trying,” the first British scripted original to land on Apple TV Plus, has been available on the platform for less than a week, but already plans are afoot to make a second season.
“We’re hoping to do it at the end of the summer/fall period,” says star Rafe Spall, who confirms that the series has been recommissioned by the tech giant.
Of course, much depends on how and when production can restart in the U.K. “With a bit of luck, we might get there,” says Spall, whose credits include BBC miniseries “The War of the Worlds” as well as features “Just Mercy,” “Men in Black: International” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”
Spall stars alongside Esther Smith in the tender, funny and compassionate comedy about a 30-something couple who try for adoption after realizing they’re unable to have children themselves.
The on-screen chemistry between Spall and Smith anchors the BBC Studios production, which is written by Andy Wolton and marks the first commission by Jay Hunt, Channel 4’s former chief creative officer who joined Apple as creative director for worldwide video out of Europe in 2018.
“I’m really proud of it,” says Spall, speaking over the phone from his home in Gloucestershire in the west of England, where he has holed up during lockdown with his young family.
“It’s not often that the thing you read ends up being on the screen,” adds Spall, alluding to the old industry cliché that when you make any film or TV show, there is one version written, one filmed and one edited. “But this is absolutely what I imagined and hoped it would be — it’s warm, funny, real and a force for good at this time.”
Apple has clearly put money behind the London-set series, which also stands out for its production design and camera-work.
“What money gives you is time,” says Spall. “You are able to cover scenes properly; to spend more time making it look nice rather than getting the day finished.” He also points out that “Trying” was shot using anamorphic lenses, lending a cinematic feel to the series. “They are very expensive and traditional British television comedies are not really shot using those lenses.”
Apple’s greenlight for a second series is a great endorsement, says Spall, who describes the series as a distinctly British offering, but with universal and identifiable themes.
Like other streaming platforms, Apple hasn’t released figures on how the series has performed. “From my point of view, that relieves a bit of pressure,” says Spall. But he’s enjoyed watching it drop globally on the platform, and seeing reactions come in from all over the world via Twitter. “It’s new to me having a show suddenly go worldwide on May 1 [the launch date of ‘Trying’].”
Spall will soon be seen in BBC true-life drama “The Salisbury Poisonings,” about the infamous 2018 Novichok poisonings of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the city of Salisbury, England.
In the meantime, he’s hoping he will be on set filming the second season of “Trying” by the end of summer. “I’d be 100% comfortable going on set,” says Spall, who acknowledges that some people might not want to do so in light of the coronavirus pandemic. “I would start filming tomorrow if it was allowed.”
He says it’s a “worrying time” with many people out of work amid production shutdowns. “A hell of a lot of people in my profession are in really bad way, and an awful lot of people have fallen through the gaps in terms of government support.”
“It’s the duty of those who can to donate to (actors’ union) Equity’s Benevolent Fund and the different funds that can help out creatives who are in less fortunate positions.”
Spall says actors who will be most affected when production restarts — plans for which are currently underway — will be those on their way up. “All the actors who have names, who are desperate for a bit of work, they are going to do parts they might not have done before. That pushes everyone further down the rung.”
“Hopefully, it will recover, because what this time has shown us is that there has never been a greater need for content,” says Spall.