Mister Winner S1 is one of those good old-fashioned comedies that’s just about the absurdity of everyday life. Writer Matt Morgan set out to make a show that the whole family can enjoy together, unironically. “Mister Winner is completely non-cynical and non-sneery. There’s no cruelty, there’s no big target to the humour… It’s relatable. It’s a warm show,” says Matt. “We wanted it to be funny for little kids and grandparents equally. This actually makes it harder because you can’t fall back on the normal tricks, you can’t do an awkward sex joke.”

Matt wanted to make a show that would be funny even with the sound turned down. So Mister Winner is a feast of physical comedy. If you grew up loving Mr Bean, you’ll know that the bar on that has been set sky high. But in Spencer Jones, who plays title character Leslie Winner, Matt believes that he’s found a physical comedy genius. “Spencer Jones is so brilliant at physical comedy and prop comedy. I’d seen his show in Edinburgh and when the idea arose, I knew there was no one else for the job. Although he’s quite a naturalistic actor, he’s got Mr Bean and Stan Laurel’s DNA running through him. He really threw himself into the role,” says Matt.

Spencer and Matt worked on the comedy together. “I was involved right from the start. I had long chats with Matt about the content and storylines. Once Matt had then fleshed out his ideas, I added visual gags and thoughts. We also talked about real-life incidents that we’d heard about. Once the scripts were in place, me and the director worked for a couple of weeks together on the visual and physical aspects,” says Spencer. “We discussed where I’d fall, where I’d turn… the visual gags. There were lots of conversations between myself, the producer, the director and the writer.”

Spencer adds, “There’s also heart in the series. It’s genuinely a story about love and trying to make ends meet. Like a lot of people, these two are a bit skint, getting through life and trying their hardest.” And boy, could Spencer relate to that financial struggle. Before Mister Winner aired, Spencer revealed, “Two weeks ago, we were in so much debt that my missus had to hide our car a few streets away from the bailiffs. I really hope people like the show because I can’t find the car and the missus can’t remember where she parked it.”

It’s time to meet 3 of these uncool people who’re just trying to get by…

Winners & losers

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Leslie Winner (Spencer Jones)

Who? A loveable loser and the “hero” of this show. Eternal optimist Leslie has good intentions and a golden heart, but bad ideas and worse luck. If he goes for a job interview, he’ll arrive in slippers, flood the office loos, accidentally send a potential colleague’s files flying and run into any number of disasters. And sometimes life just throws things his way. His mother Sharon’s (Harriet Thorpe) new boyfriend, Steve (Oliver Maltman), is just a year older than Leslie and loves nothing more than a soggy public snog with Mum – right in front of Leslie. Leslie is preparing for his wedding to fiancée Jemma during the first season. And first things first, he needs to find a job to pay for the wedding and honeymoon.

“Leslie is up for it. He’s not a lazy man, he desperately wants to be successful. He wants to be a good boyfriend, a good husband and a good son-in-law, but it goes Pete Tong every time,” says Shaun Williamson, who plays Leslie’s soon-to-be father-in-law, Chris.

My big loser moment: Spencer says, “I went to a BAFTA-nominee drinks the other day. I had this one pair of trousers that were okay to wear. I put the trousers on the ironing board, and literally as soon as the iron touched the trousers, it burnt a hole in them straight away. ‘Oh no no no’… This was an hour before we had to leave! So, I go upstairs and find a pair of trousers that the button’s broken on… it’s one of those metal clasp things. So I get a safety pin, which I hide underneath and create a little clasp. Perfect! I’m walking up to BAFTA and as soon as I get there, just about to have my photo taken, it pops open. I had to walk around the BAFTAs with my trousers undone.”


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Jemma Smith (Lucy Pearman)

Who? ”Jemma is Leslie Winner’s fiancée. She’s a support to Leslie, but she’s not got it completely together herself. I think they have fun together despite all his japes!” says Lucy. “I think they are good together. They muddle through stuff. I think they really love each other. They just get by. Whatever’s thrown at them, they try to tackle as a team.”

Spencer is all praises. “It would have been so easy for her to have played Jemma as a nagging girlfriend, which we’ve seen a million times, but she doesn’t. It feels like Leslie and Jemma are on the same team. In one look, Lucy can say, ‘I hate you, I love you, I’m so pleased that I met you, why am I with you?’ – all at the same time. And really those contradictions are there in every relationship that has stood the test of time,” he says.

My big loser moment: Lucy hasn’t been acting on TV for long. This is one of her first lead roles. And she thought she was going to get fired on her first day on the Mister Winner set. “Me, Spencer and Oliver Maltman, who plays Steve, completely lost the plot and got very bad giggles. I don't think I've been scared and hysterical like that since school. It was very, very bad. I was terrified – I thought we were going to get in so much trouble,” she says. 


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Chris Smith (Shaun Williamson)

Who? Chris is Leslie’s girlfriend’s father. “Chris is a painter-decorator, all-round very capable workman. He’s a salt-of-the-earth, normal bloke. Unfortunately for Chris, Leslie Winner is with his daughter. Chris feels a duty to help Leslie out, as he’s going to be Chris’s son-in-law. Chris gives Leslie work and Leslie always totally – not on purpose – but he totally messes it up. Chris does tolerate Leslie, though. He likes him, but he’d like him better if Leslie wasn’t with his daughter. But once it becomes obvious that she loves him, Chris tries to be supportive,” says Shaun.

My big loser moment: Shaun struggled for work after his EastEnders character, Barry, was literally pushed off a cliff, and he eventually agreed to appear on the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother. “It’s not a great thing for an actor to be seen in, I don't mind saying that. But however successful you've been in the past, it doesn’t matter a damn to a mortgage broker if you can't prove what you’ll be earning next year,” he says. “Shaun was forced to dress up in a full-body dog suit. He had his own kennel ‘the dog house’ and had to ‘play around’ outside and go for walkies on his hands and knees, and learn ball tricks from the housemates, and pull down one of the guys gym shorts with his teeth. Beat that, Leslie Winner!


Watch Mister Winner S1 on Fridays on BBC Brit (DStv 120) at 20:40 or on Catch Up

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