Interview: Tim Jonze meets the creators of The Mighty Boosh

The Mighty Boosh is the most out-there show on the box. Tim Jonze meets its creators and reveals their 10-point plan for saving television...

It was towards the end of filming the third series of The Mighty Boosh that all hell broke loose.

"Alarm bells were ringing, 300 people were running around in silver foil coats," recalls Julian Barratt, wincing at the memory.

"There were lots of kids crying," adds his partner in comedy Noel Fielding. "It was like... Armageddon."

Whoever thought it a good idea to keep The Mighty Boosh holed up in a hotel in Surrey for two solid months of filming clearly didn't know them all that well. Bored out of their brain and full of devilish plans, they soon set to work drinking the bar dry, setting off the hotel fire alarms and - worst of all - defacing the hotel's prized possessions: sculptures of rabbits made out of lard.

"It offended me on sight," recalls Noel. "It had a stupid face. Anthony (Rossomando, from Dirty Pretty Things) was there and we were all pissed and saw them through a window, goading us with their lard rabbit faces. Before I knew what was happening I was stabbing them up with a Biro. We got into a frenzy, skipping around and pouring Tabasco sauce on them. It was like a witches' coven, the energy was amazing."

Great! Then what happened?

Noel: "Erm... it was all on CCTV and I had to pay for them all. They were about £300 each or something. Some guy must have spent hours making them and we fucked them up."

If their description of being cooped up in a hotel room sounds surreal, then don't tell them that. Apparently, the Boosh hate being called surreal. It's a tag that's been slapped on them throughout their journey from cult Edinburgh festival act (they won the Perrier Best Newcomer award in 1998) to becoming the UK's maddest mainstream comedy act. But then if you will film new episodes of the show where Vince Noir (Fielding) gets infected by a jazz virus and Howard Moon (Barratt) is shrunk down to molecular level and injected into Vince's bloodstream to go and fight it, you can't really expect the "social realism" tags to come flooding in. Likewise the episode where Julian plays a drug-addled Crack Fox, who lives in the sewers and gives off a hideous odour: "That one's quite like a horror movie," grins Noel. "A horror movie about recycling."

Unlike series one (set in a zoo) or two (a Dalston flat), this third series revolves around Naboo's Magic Shop Nabootique, allowing the trippy twosome to do what they do best (chat comedy bollocks to each other) while a revolving cast of characters drift in and out (Noel: "Basically, it's a psychedelic Open All Hours"). In the shop they sell items from Howard Moon's Elite Elbow Patch Collection and even offer a service to track down members of stray indie bands thanks to Vince's electronic tagging machine.

"Like pigeons," he explains. "So someone will come in and say 'Where's the bass player out of the Horrors' and then I look it up and they pay me money. It's a joke about celebrity, but it's not intentional."

As Noel and Julian speak, their eyes boggle with delight at their own fantastical ideas. Not for these two the grey tower blocks and dogshit-stained pavements of boring old reality. No, they'd sooner gaze at the world through wibbly-wobbly kaleidoscopic glasses, imagining beauty and colour and music where none exists. They've never lost their childlike awe and, as such, they're completely crackers. Which makes them the perfect go-to guys when it comes to sorting out a 10 point plan to improve today's dreary TV schedules. Now, anyone for ambient tennis?

1. Invent a reality TV show on Mars

Julian: "We should send a load of bad celebrities to colonise Mars. They would have to mate in space, and then their children would be sent back to earth in 50 years time."

Noel: "Then you'd beam the show to Mars for them to watch their children living on earth. It'd go back and forth, like Mars tennis. Ant & Dec would present it from their little space station. God, this sounds awful. I wouldn't watch it."

2. Realise that wrestling is the modern day Shakespeare

Noel: "I've been watching wrestling a lot recently. We were stuck in a hotel whilst filming this series and it was the only thing on telly that was entertaining. It's so ridiculous and glam and OTT, but it's a proper programme with costumes and a script. It's almost Shakespearian with the drama that goes on. There's brothers fighting each other on their dad's grave! It's amazing."

3. Get Naboo to host his own cookery show

Noel: "Naboo does a cookery show with Bollo in the new series."

Julian: "He gets some hash cakes and punch together for a party, in the style of a cooking programme..."

Noel: "It worked well visually, with him talking to the camera. Chefs are funny, anyway. I love Gordon Ramsay's energy..."

Julian: "There's some weird ones, though. You look at someone like Antony Worrall Thompson and you just think, 'What's gone on here?'"

4. Redesign the Eastenders wardrobe

Noel: "I hate EastEnders. I call it Glass Smash Face Aids. I cannot bear it. It's all egg sandwiches, council tax bills and heroin needles. It's grotesque. Why are people fascinated by that? It's shit for your eyes. Whatever happened to fantasy and escape and colours and beauty? I watched Stoned the other night. It's a terrible film, but it made me realise how ridiculous the costumes and furniture were back then. In the 60s everything was funny and stupid and bright. They were wearing Moroccan clothes and had stupid furnishings. I'd like to see Eastenders give that a go."

5. Stage Wimbledon at 3am

Noel: "Wimbledon is very ambient. It's like having a green painting in the corner of your room. I'm from an area that's close to Wimbledon, so I feel like I recognise the colours and the trees. It's the same with cricket, it's the chill-out room of TV. They should hold it early in the morning, after the clubs close, so you can watch it with some water."

6. All news to be presented by Australians

Noel: "I don't watch the news. It's so depressing - read out in that awful tone with those dramatic beeps."

Julian: "It's like, did nobody actually watch The Day Today?"

Noel: "I'd prefer to hear about good things on the news. The other day our director was talking about these cars that can fly, and that's what I want to find out about. The world's so depressing, which is why I think I use the show to cut myself off from it. I wanted it to be as childlike and fantastical and magical as possible, designed to make you forget what's going on. When I was younger I did all that angsty stuff about death, but it's actually harder to make people laugh and feel good. That's why I think Aussies are so good. They're just so positive compared to us. They all come over here like, 'Wahheeeyyyyy!' They don't give a fuck about anything. They're funny people. We need Aussies doing the news. I'd be much more likely to tune in for that."

7. Restore viewer trust (i.e don't tell anyone about the gag-writing sweatshops)

Julian: "People don't trust TV right now, but if you've got shows that rely on phone voting then it's doomed to failure because that's all there is to the programme. Whereas if you make a show that's good, people won't think they're being tricked. I mean, nobody would even imagine that all our jokes were written by small Malaysian boys in a sweatshop. We've got loads of them. In a barn. Having to get 150 jokes out a day!"

8. Make all TV bosses grow their hair

Noel: "I've never trusted people who have short hair. How can you trust people to make decisions about the world if they're not even making any decisions about their haircut? I only say this because I used to get so much shit about the way I dress. At art school I used to get beaten up for wearing make-up. There was an engineering block opposite who wanted to kill us all. Engineering students aren't really into make-up. But it's important to have stupid hair at some point in your life. It's liberating, like putting on clown shoes."

9. More rock stars on television

Noel: "You don't even know what bands look like these days, they're not even famous anymore. If I go out to a restaurant with my mate [Razorlight's] Johnny Borrell nobody recognises him but they'll stream up to me and say, 'You're that guy from The Boosh! Razorlight were in your show!'"

Julian: "We've talked about getting more live bands on the shows, make it a bit more like Morecambe & Wise."

Noel: "We've got Gary Numan guesting on this series - I met him on a podcast and he wanted to do it. And we've got the Horrors too, who play this band with the skinniest legs in the world. They look like a band, but it's not like with Ian Brown or Morrissey. Even Arctic Monkeys, the singer looks like a dog. He's got a dog's face. It's a good face, but it's a dog's face."

10. Replace Sky Sports coverage with jazzercise classes

Noel: "When it comes to sport, I'd like to see footballers in sequinned mirrorball kits. I actually play a lot of football."

Julian: "Whereas I'd have jazzercise classes. Like exercise classes only with a live band keeping the beat."

Noel: "You should open your own jazzercise centre when this all goes wrong."

Julian: "I will."

· The Mighty Boosh begins Thu, 10.30pm, BBC3


Tim Jonze

The GuardianTramp

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