“I really should have perfected a pitch by now but frankly there’s not much of a plot or a narrative to the film.”
Simon Bird, star of The Inbetweeners and Friday Night Dinner, is trying to sell his latest project. Days of the Bagnold Summer is the first feature he’s directed. Based on the graphic novel by Joff Winterhart and adapted by Bird’s wife Lisa Owens, it stars Bafta-winning Monica Dolan as Sue and Earl Cave (19-year-old son of Nick) as Daniel.
After Daniel’s dad cancels plans for his son to spend the summer with him (and his new family) in Florida, he’s forced to spend it at home with his mum. The film is funny, touching and perfectly in tune with the times, as parents and teenagers across the country are having to spend much more time than anticipated in close proximity – while at the same time, a lot of us have gained a fresh appreciation for family we’ve been unable to spend any time with. Even with not much plot or narrative… well, isn’t that life? Especially at this time of monotony where a trip to the shops has become a grand adventure. In that vein, Bird’s film feels very of the moment.
There are values in the mundane
“Yeah, this pandemic has worked out really nicely for me. No, you can’t be flippant, obviously,” he says. “It should definitely chime with people now even more than I hope it would have beforehand. It taps into something I think everybody is feeling now, which is that spending an intense period of time with your family can be both very stressful but also rewarding as well.”
The latest series of Friday Night Dinner began just before the pandemic, and finished in early May, in a very different world. Something as routine as eating with your parents had become an impossibility. The everyday had become exceptional, as boring as a concept became transformed.
“People are having to think about that sort of stuff a lot more,” Bird says. “That was already a big feature of the TV shows and films that I love, to other people they can often seem quite boring.