Tony Basgallop, has been working in the television industry for over twenty years, writing and producing television series such as BBC’s EastEnders, the wildly popular Apple TV+ series Servant (which concludes its four-season run next month.) His latest is the devilishly dark and funny, The Consultant which premiered this weekend on Amazon’s Prime Video service.
If you know his work you have witnessed how the self-described “frustrated sitcom writer” injects humor into just about everything he does, including dinner parties. We discuss this and much more during my recent conversation with Basgallop. The topics ranged from where working with two time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz, the star of The Consultant, to closing out his twenty plus year journey on Servant to what he’s watching on television. The writer/producer/showrunner was very frank and insightful about every topic we discussed.
On adapting the Bentley Little novel into a series:
It’s more of a 90s mentality in the book. So there’s a lot of updating, there’s a lot of kind of, you know, finding the satire and using the tone of the book, and the humor in the book – everything in the book that propels the plot seem to correlated in those first couple of chapters, it’s similar. Once this consultant comes in, it’s just this wonderful world.
I wanted to do a workplace thriller. I really wanted to do something set in the office. There’s a cruelty that I really like- something quite dark and nasty and mean spirited, and a lot of people, but at the same time there’s genuine human emotion coming through it all. It felt like a really good fit, if I could take that premise and kind of build off it – no disrespect to what Ben Little had done, but I could find a lot within it that maybe wasn’t in the book.
On his trademark blend of humor and thrills:
If there wasn’t a sense of humor in what I do, then I struggle. If I can’t amuse myself somewhere along the way, then it doesn’t feel natural to me. At the same time when I was writing the show, in particular, and Servant, in is similar that I never looked to right humor. I think sometimes situations become so absurd that comedy is just created out of it.
I don’t feel like I’m writing comedies. I feel like I am writing mysteries and thrillers and if it happens to get so crazy or so dark that you need some humor in order to take the steam out. Then great, it’ll just happen naturally and it’ll come that way. I never go ‘this one’s gonna be a funny episode,’ or ‘this is gonna be the dark one.’ It’s nice to do that. I feel my voice is in both of these series both The Consultant and with Servant. They feel very natural to the way I am.
On choosing Christoph Waltz for the title role:
He’s got that the ice in the veins type of thing that you need. He’s got everything you need from the character, there’s something sinister about him. And yet, there’s an extreme intelligence and there’s a coldness and yet there’s a playful childishness when he really wants to break out. He can be very childish and playful with this stuff. The moment he was suggested I felt this feels right.
His three words to describe the Servant finale (as a big fan, his response gave me the chills):
Emotional. Surprising. Rewarding.
Watch the full interview (below) where we talk much more about Servant, The Consultant, his career as a writer, where it all began for Basgallop and much more. And be sure to watch The Consultant on Amazon Prime Video streaming right now.