November 30, 2020 1:00:34 PM
Jon Richardson remembers hearing his mum having a screaming fit in the kitchen one Christmas Day morning. The now-vegan comedian, 38, ate meat back then, along with his dad. But his mum didn’t – and she wasn’t exactly pleased about cooking a turkey for them.
“I woke to the sound of her trying to get the giblets out before the turkey had fully defrosted,” recalls the Lancaster-born star, chuckling. “She’d got her hand wedged inside the front of the turkey.”
Now we get to see the stand-up preparing for his own family’s festivities, in Meet The Richardsons At Christmas. The two-part special follows on from the success of Meet The Richardsons, the first series of which aired on Dave earlier this year (there is a second one coming in 2021) and sees Jon and his wife – fellow comic Lucy Beaumont, 37 – attempt to create the perfect Christmas for their daughter Elsie.
The couple play exaggerated versions of themselves in the sitcom, which is a fictional window into their marriage. It also stars some of their celebrity friends (Johnny Vegas is in the first Christmas episode) and their Hebden Bridge neighbours.
When the three of us chat over Zoom, it’s mid-November. A lot of people seem to be feeling festive earlier than normal this year (social media is full of pictures of decorated trees already). So, where are their heads at? “As you’ll tell by the funereal black jumper, I’m not there yet,” quips Richardson. “Our daughter watched The Grinch this morning – that wouldn’t have happened on my watch.”
The couple’s only child is the “perfect age” for Christmas, he adds, as she understands it now. “Last year, she knew what it was but was mainly scared of Father Christmas, the idea of a man coming into her bedroom… We had to work very hard to stress that he doesn’t come into your bedroom, he can leave the presents outside or he can leave them in the corridor. But this year she’s very excited.”
Meet The Richardsons is a particularly relatable – and very watchable – comedy series. One of the reasons why is perhaps the fact it’s such a hilariously authentic depiction of the frustrations of married life. “We’re giving a lot away, really,” muses Beaumont, who grew up in Hull. “It’s the only way to do it – you can’t fake it. You have to lay it all bare.”
“When you do stand-up, people feel they know you a bit anyway because stand up is so personal,” follows Richardson. “It would be insane for us, as stand-ups, to do a sitcom where we’re totally different people. People just wouldn’t buy it; they sort of know who you are anyway, I think.”
Having said all that, does it still feel weird that they let cameras in their home to film the series? “It’s more just the length of time it goes on for,” notes Richardson. “We film for like three months, where the cameras just follow you around. We don’t edit it, we’re not the producers, so just something small that you said in the car that led to a three-minute argument, you don’t remember…”
Some of the funniest bits of the series are the “couch arguments”, where the couple talk to the camera about a myriad of topics (usually something that’s riled Richardson…)“We will film three days of those [couch arguments] and they were right at the beginning; I couldn’t tell you a single thing I said,” Richardson admits. “So, when it goes out, I’ll be on screen ranting about something that I’ve moved on from now but it will be a year on, and I’ll suddenly be getting angry about something I’d completely forgotten about.”
On how the affable pair have coped during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, Richardson says it’s shone a light on how lucky they are. “We like each other’s company. We’ve got a kid that is a godsend; she’s just a joy, she needs constant stimulation.”
“You’re very in the moment with little kids,” echoes Beaumont. “Whatever big life event you’re going through, they still want to just have fun.”
Being in the public eye means having a platform to raise awareness of issues, and Beaumont has been running a not-for-profit organisation, called Backpack Buddies, to provide meals and education to children living in deprivation in Hull, for four years now. In recent months, she has been tweeting a lot about the movement, spearheaded by footballer Marcus Rashford, to make sure underprivileged children are able to have access to free food during the school holidays.
“To see the difference of someone who is of Marcus Rashford’s [fame] and what that can do… And I don’t think it’s just because of the notoriety, I think the timing of him being a working-class black guy, that was all to do with it as well.
“It wasn’t anything to do with Black Lives Matter, but there was a sort of poetry there, of a black youth from a single mum who works incredibly hard at their job and cares.”
She continues passionately: “I don’t think for one minute anything I tweet makes a difference, I just can’t not [tweet]. If there’s something tender going on like that, I can’t make up a joke and put it on Twitter. I care about a lot of things, and I try to give to different charities, but I’ve picked my team – child hunger, weekend hunger. That’s really, politically, the only thing I try to tweet about, so it’s not like virtue signalling, because you can’t sway people, you can’t change people’s opinions.
“This country is in a really bad state and there’s no point pretending it isn’t – it is. And I think everybody has to signpost, really. Until things get better.”
Meet The Richardsons At Christmas will air on Dave on December 9 and 16