Friday Night Dinner Series 3. Done.

by Robert Popper on February 7, 2014 · 92 comments

One year, one month and one day after starting writing series 3 of FND, we’ve finally finished making the series. I’m not sure when it’s on telly yet, but as soon as I know I’ll let you know. Feel free to ask Channel 4 to hurry up and stick it on!

Quite a few people have asked me how I go about writing, and making the show, so I’ll explain…

I usually spend the first month just thinking of ideas, writing random scenes, lines, anything that might help me craft the series. Then I’ll start on my first script. I’ll normally know what the central idea of the episode is when I start, and will go back through all my ideas, and see what connections I can make, so I can start to create a story. I usually allow 5 weeks per ep.

I need to have a strong opening, and I have to know how the show is going to end, but it’s the middle stuff that’s tricky. Plotting is where most of the work goes, and I try hard to keep story flowing and moving forward. Making the script a real page-turner is what I want to happen.

I’m also trying to make the show as visually interesting as possible. I aim to have at least five ‘big’ comedy moments. Anything from Jonny jumping out of a bin bag in series 1, to say, Jim tipping a pot of red paint all over his head in series 2. Having a show set mainly in one location, and all over one evening, is definitely tough to write, but at the same time, it can be quite liberating, as the framework and limitations are right there in front of me.

Along the way, I’m assisted by my amazing executive producer, Caroline Leddy, who’s always on the end of the phone if I need her. She reads drafts and gives incredible notes as she goes.

Once the scripts are done, and after I’ve gone out and got a little bit drunk, it’s pre-production time. This is 6 weeks of gearing up to the making of the show. My director – the fantastic Martin Dennis – and I go through all the scripts, discussing how they’ll be shot, what will work, what won’t. Martin always has great suggestions to funny stuff up. This is a time for re-writing.

My brill line producer, Georgie Fallon (who runs the production) will let me know what things we can’t shoot, due to money and logistics, and so I normally have to rewrite about 10 scenes. Then it’s looking at costumes, set design and casting the show. A few weeks in, we have a read-through, which is the only time, as a writer, you get to hear your whole series performed in one. Everyone is there (apart from Norman Tebbit who never comes) – director, exec producers, main crew members. It’s nerve-racking but also quite emotional hearing your lines being performed by such talented actors. I don’t cry though. I never cry. Never. NEVER.

We do 1-2 weeks rehearsal with cast. There are last minute script changes, as new lines come up here and there in the rehearsal room. And then we’re ready to film.

Each series takes seven weeks to shoot. Six of these are on location in the house – a real house – in NW London, the rest all around London. What can I say about filming? Well, we use cameras and stuff, and then it’s done.

Then 10 weeks of editing follow, with our editor, Paul Machliss (he did Look Around You Series 2 and Peep Show with me, so is fab). Myself, Martin and Paul sit in quite a warm room overlooking a sex shop, eating biscuits and knocking the shows into shape. Along the way we have notes from my excellent exec producer, Kenton Allen, and Caroline. Then once a week we have a screening with Channel 4 for more notes (or ‘criticisms’ as I call them). Actually, getting notes from good people is a very good thing. We want to hear what isn’t working, so we can fix it.

Finally, we do the grading of the shows, in which we correct the colour of the show, do the dubs (sound mixing), and suddenly it’s one year, one month and one day later, and we’ve finished the series, and I find myself sitting in a cafe in Soho, tired, happy, and about to have a beer.

  • Luke Stuart

    I can’t wait for it to be available in the US. It’s a fantastic show.

  • Jack Morgan

    absolutely love the show robert.very much looking forward to series 3!also a fan of robin cooper and look around you :-) in my school friend group i was known as “little mouse”,for obvious reasons.later in college it changed to “reggae man”

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    That’s really funny. Nice to meet a fellow Jack Morgan! Cheers!

  • betti

    Your show is the BEST! My partner and I ate them all up in one hit when we discovered them here in Australia! can’t wait for season 3! Keep up the great writing. Also love your cast! All hilarious! :)

  • bianca nilsson

    I absolutely love FND so much and have seen every episode. After eagerly awaiting the birth of my second child and trying everything to encourage him to make an appearance, a week late I decided to cheer myself up by watching episode 1 from the second series. Five episodes later and after crying with laughter for over 2 hours, the baby decided he had to come out and see what the fuss was all about and was born a couple of hours later!!!! Thank you!!! Cannot wait for series 3!!!!! And PS…Shit on it is by far my favourite and most used phrase!!!! Genius!!!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Thank you very much indeed!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Hi Bianca,

    That is so nice of you to tell me. So pleased you like the show so much and massive congrats on your baby. What’s his/her name? I hope it’s not Wilson. Thanks again and hope all is well with you and your little one.
    Best wishes,

    Robert

  • bianca nilsson

    Hahaha! My first choice was Wilson but seeing as my last name is NILSSON I thought he might get picked on in school ;) We chose Noah instead…It went down much better in shul!!!

  • Anne

    we’re also loving this Show here in Germany! can’t wait for Season 3:)

  • Puneet

    I really like your show. It reminds me of my family. Thank you for making all the characters so real and endearing. I wish you all the success and I can’t wait for Series 3!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Many thanks!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Danke schon!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Fair enough.

  • FNDfan

    This is by far one of the best sitcoms – me and my mum and dad where watching it together the other day and my dad (who is normally the tv critic on EVERY SHOW) was laughing his head off and said ‘this has got to be one of funniest shows’. All the characters and their characteristics, all as funny as. Reaaaaallllllyyyyyy hope there’s a series four !!! As series 3 is amazing as series 1 and 2.

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Thanks so much. Glad you’re laughing!

  • Tony Trunzo

    My wife and I just started watching series 1 and 2 this week; we live in Seattle, and absolutely love it! Mark Heap is a national treasure. We especially loved the Christmas episode and can’t wait to tuck into series 3!

  • Liv Davis

    Hi, please make a series 4, as I have just finished series 3 I am hoping you will make another series, it is such a brilliant program and deserves to win some kind of award

  • Jane Parker

    Hi Robert,
    We love Friday Night Dinner and could watch it every Friday night if it was on. We really, really hope there will be a series 4!!

  • Liam Freeman

    Just got done with the finale!
    Any idea if a series 4 is being thought of .. in the works at all?
    Or was this truely the end? :(

  • Luke

    Hello Robert,

    Can I start by just telling you how much of a huge fan I am of the show. The entire family love it and it is wonderfully written to be so relatable. The girlfriend is just finishing the last episode as we speak!

    I am a bit of a keen screenwriter myself. I am at university at the moment and am involved with the TV station here. I love just writing scripts for all manner of genre’s and I was just wondering how you managed to get your break? How did you get your foot in the door that first time to be able to get someone to make a TV series that you have written?

    Thank you

  • AmyConway

    Hi Robert, Love the new series 3…I love watching all the episodes.. I watched them all in one day when i wasn’t feeling so good…When i sat back and started laughing i started feeling better..Hope you carry on making people laugh!

  • Ian cadman

    Really enjoyed the latest series, well written, great casting, great production. If you ever run a masterclass in writing for TV then put my name down for it.

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Thank you!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    This isn’t the end. It depends on what Channel 4 say. Thanks!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Hi thanks so much. I can’t reply in full, mainly as I have┬ájust cut my finger and can hardly type. I’m sure there’s some (boring!) interview with me online discussing how I started. Sorry I can’t go into it here! Good luck.

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Ahh that’s nice of you. Thank you Amy.

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Thanks so much!!

  • Carolyn

    There is nothing funnier on the telly than Friday Night Dinner. My 5 year old loves it, he wants to become “dad” wearing a vest and trousers. I cracked up each time dad says his favourite phrase, and when mum says it its even better. We have only in the last few weeks caught up but have seen all episodes at least 3 times. I really hope it continues!!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Ah thanks so much. So pleased your 5 year old enjoys it too!

  • Lilly Walters

    is a series 4 coming out???

  • http://www.we-are-droids.com/ Angelica

    Hi Robert, I absolutely LOVE this show! From the writing to the flawless cast, it’s hysterical! I’m a huge fan. I am desperately hoping there will be more seasons after 3. Please tell me there will be more or I will lose faith in networks altogether.

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Thank you so much. That is very nice of you. Waiting to hear from Channel 4 at the mo. Am writing a FND pilot for America at the mo, so hopefully it will continue…

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Hi. Thanks. No news yet. Waiting for Channel 4. Thanks!

  • http://www.we-are-droids.com/ Angelica

    I read about the American pilot when I was searching to find out about series 4 news and a huge congrats to you! I wish you all the luck on that too. I love the current version and crave more, of course, but will surely watch the American one too. I’ve posted to Channel 4 that this is one of the funniest shows and begged them to carry on, as well (you know, from Jane Q. Public, the average TV viewer who obsesses over quality shows?) :). It’s also great to see that there’s not a stuffed shirt behind this show, it makes me love it even more that you interact with the viewers. So cheers all around!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Ahhh that’s really nice of you, Angelica. Much appreciated indeedy!

  • karen

    Love Friday night dinner! Please say you are going to do a fourth series!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Many thanks. It’s all in Channel 4’s hands…

  • Natasha Yvonne Smithers

    My whole family, including my 10 year old daughter absolutely love Friday night Dinner, Martin is just like my Father-in-law and that really amuses my daughter. All the characters are brilliant, i especially like Jim lol. Thank you for writing this amazing comedy, we just cant wait for season 3! x

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    Thanks so much! That’s so nice of you. Season 3 was out in June jn the UK. Hope you get to see it some time.

  • Natasha Yvonne Smithers

    Excellent! thank you x

  • Scott Holden

    Hi, I am just curious to know if the house seen in the exterior shots in actually the same house the interior shots are filmed in?
    Great show, love it!

  • http://robertpopper.com Robert Popper

    It sure is! Thanks so much.

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