Chris Gau and Michael Orton-Toliver are the creators behind BORDERLINE. The new mockumentary is currently airing on Channel 5 every Tuesday (10PM) and will be available on My5.
CHRIS GAU & MICHAEL ORTON-TOLIVER
The duo told Telly Binge why the series is different. “We are both improvisers, so made a promise to ourselves that Borderline would use improvisation to make shots, takes and scenes better. I think it makes for a funnier show and a real feel.”
Before the show, Chris had said he hoped to create a fresh voice in comedy. Has he achieved that? “We think improv gives it a more natural and realistic feel.” Improv stands for improvisational theatre, basically doing a scene in the moment rather than scripted.
When a creator thinks of a show, they envisage a certain character or personality. We asked who their finest creation was so far, “Grant started as a character that was rough around the edges and hard to like. Now he is easily a favourite character, due in large to the wonderful work of Jamie Michie. That man is a talented actor!”
Both not only thought of the show, but wrote the episodes too. The ideas of the characters had a fundamental idea behind them, “Real border agents are normal people doing a very hard job. The cast (as a whole) are so good at making these guys loveable and hilarious.”
Not every writer gets involved in the set, but Chris and Michael were both active in the thinking behind it. “We picked the logo. We remember the day we thought of the name (Northend Airport), two weeks later we’re on this set and it says Northend everywhere!”
They added about the set, “It was cool because it was an actual airport, a disused terminal in Coventry. When we persuaded a cargo plane company to pull one of their fleet into shoot for us, that’s when Chris knew that he wanted to make television forever!”
Borderline has been created by LittleRock Pictures, which also contains guest star Ralf Little. “The team were remarkable. Especially Zoe Rocha, this series wouldn’t have been made without such a talented producer like her. What was special about LittleRock compared to the other production companies, was that they were excited about the challenge of doing something new and not put off by it.”
In 2010 Come Fly with Me, arguably the most famous mockumentary of this decade so far began on BBC One. So what did the duo think? “It was great! Those guys are so funny and talented, so you knew it would be hilarious!”
What about their thoughts on other comedies? “Just can’t get enough of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. We also like Veep because it’s so funny, smart and cutting! The cast is incredible and it gets funnier with each series. Also big fans of People Do Nothing, Chris actually ran a private radio station when he was a youth.”
What are they up to next? Mike says he has other shows in development, “My next project is Two Steps Back, which is with Harry Enfield’s company. Chris and I are developing several other comedies and in the meantime I run The Free Association theatre in London.” Chris added, “I perform at the theatre (above) and do a regular weekly comedy podcast called Fact Up! It’s a send up of those NPR style factual programmes like RadioLab and Stuff You Should Know. It’s very silly and fun!
Chris Gau and Michael Orton-Toliver were talking to Telly Binge in August 2016. Season 1 of Borderline is currently airing on Channel 5 every Tuesday (10PM) and will be available on My5.