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“Hopefully people think there *is* acting” — Chi With a C on Things You Should Have Done

5 min read
Lucia Keskin in Things You Should Have Done

Things You Should Have Done is the first series written and created by comedian Lucia Keskin (better known as Chi With a C).

When ‘stay-at-home daughter’ Chi’s parents die suddenly, her life is turned upside-down. She soon learns that to get her inheritance, the young shirker must follow a list of ‘things you should have done’ — which entail simple adulthood skills and milestones like ‘Getting a Job’ and ‘Learning to Cook’. Each episode is themed around one of these tasks, as Chi gets a crash course in ‘adulting’ and comes to terms with life without Mum and Dad.

At FILMHOUNDS, we fell in love with this hilarious, moving new series, and had the privilege of chatting to Lucia to find out more about the process behind it.

Things You Should Have Done tackles issues of bereavement head-on. In writing and later in production, did you feel a great responsibility to tread lightly, or was it better to be more frank?

I think I always kind of wanted to just come at it with quite dark comedy, I mean as long as it’s not offensive I just wanted it to be as kind of dark and real as possible.

Laughter is the best medicine. We could not live without cracking a joke and society always dresses us down for making light of things like death but when I die I want people to do so, if it helps them feel better. I’d be flattered if my friends made light of my death.

Yeah exactly. Have a laugh.

Your character, Chi, finds her calling in comedy and is thus obviously somewhat autobiographical on the surface. How much of her is you fraction-wise or percentage-wise?

She is very much fictional, it’s just kind of the name really, which I was hesitant having because it makes it very much that people just think I’m just being myself. Obviously there are elements of me in it but not a lot hopefully.

It’s not very nice when people see the character’s name, think “Oh you’re just playing yourself” and so they just completely disregard your actual acting.

[Laughs] Well, I mean there isn’t a lot of acting. Hopefully, people think there is acting.

Moving from YouTube and TikTok to acting in TV sitcoms and now writing your own series is a phenomenal progression. What has been the most difficult or most surprising aspect in moving mediums?

It was a really lovely transition really but I had just the best time. The first thing I did [on TV] was Big Boys and the moment I got there the first day I just instantly felt sort of like “Wow this is amazing, this is what I want to do” so it was a really nice experience. I was obviously terrified — the idea of getting on a TV set for the first time was so scary. [Coughs] Sorry. It was a really good experience. [Coughs] Sorry, I’m choking on a crisp.

At least [your publicist] can pat you on the back. Who are your greatest inspirations in comedy and whose DNA can be seen in your new series?

There’s so many really. I love so many different things from you know 20 years ago to recently like I love watching Jennifer Saunders, Catherine Tate, Tony Hancock and now I love Diane Morgan; she’s my main inspiration, and Julia Davis, Sharon Horgan, that group.

Because it’s a single series at the moment, just 6 episodes, obviously we have this perception that it’s going to be very ‘tight’, so did anything improvised or spontaneous make it to the final cut?

Yeah there was quite a lot, we got to do quite a lot of improvising which was great and I think makes for a better show. Not all of it made it in mostly because when we’re improvising it’s just us laughing because we’re not expecting it. 

You look at Outnumbered and Curb Your Enthusiasm where they’re wholly improvised and you know if you’ve got a good cast together with the right chemistry then it should come easy anyway.

…and it just makes it more natural.

The series is set in Kent, where you grew up (a region seldom represented in television and film) and filmed around Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs. Home is so integral to our identity so I’m curious to know if there are any kinds of references or scenarios in the series that would particularly resonate with a Kent local?

There are some references to roads or the other town [but it] is mainly just kind of what you see [on screen]. Ramsgate Beach we used, we did some filming in Margate.

You initially shot to fame with your impression of Gemma Collins. So what would The Only Way is Thanet look like?

The Only Way is Thanet? Probably what the show [Things You Should Have Done] is probably what that would look like, that’s pretty much it.

What has been the weirdest response from one of your [impressions] subjects? That guy from Come Dine With Me, “What a sad little life Jane,” has he got in touch?

There was a point when I did [my] This Morning [spoof] that Holly and Phil both spoke about it. I don’t know how flattered about it [Holly was,] she seemed trying to be sweet but I don’t know from her face if she was just hating it at the same time, but everyone’s been really lovely.

 

Looking back at some of your classics, I’m in awe at your chameleonic ability to switch between characters. I’d love to know if you’ve seen the new Sarah Snook Dorian Gray that’s on at the moment, or the Vanya with Andrew Scott that was on last year — in each, one actor plays all the play’s parts on stage. So, what stage play would you revive with a Chi with a C twist?

Oh wow, probably something really boring like Romeo and Juliet, something Shakespeare, you know, make it more terrible than it is. 

…at The Globe I’d hope. If they’ll have you.

Exactly.

All six episodes of Things You Should Have Done are now available to stream on BBC iPlayer.