If you had a time machine, where would you go? For Nick and his friends in the time travel comedy, Timewasters, it wasn’t so much that they chose 1920s London as their destination as that’s where the time traveling elevator dropped them off thanks to Homeless Pete (John Stoate). The series, which has been available in the UK for a while, is finally coming to streaming in the US and here to talk about it is series creator, Daniel Lawrence Taylor, who answered some of our questions over e-mail.
Rachel Bellwoar: Until IMDb released a trailer I had never heard of Timewasters before, but the first season originally aired in the UK in 2017. Has finding an American home for the series been something you’ve been working on for a while, and did the announcement that Lauren Ashley Smith (A Black Lady Sketch Show) is working on a remake of the series help?
Daniel Lawrence Taylor: When I started writing the show, it never crossed my mind that it would ever play Stateside, which is odd, as the only people who love British period shows more than the Brits are the Americans! Luckily the studio had foresight and found the show a US home. And I think there were already discussions about a US remake before Lauren was on board, but having her name attached to create the remake has definitely brought a lot of great attention to the UK version.
RB: Time travel tends to be taken very seriously but one of the things I love about this series (I’ve seen the first three episodes) is that it’s a comedy, which means while occasionally a character will express some concern about consequences there’s no real sense that anyone is holding back out of fear of a paradox. Was it fun, having that freedom within a time travel story?
DLT: Yeah, it really was. The average Joe would be a little more skeptical and hesitant about what they would get up to in the past, but the four band members are essentially musically talented idiots, so it allowed me to chuck them into weird and wonderful places and know they’d try and make the best out of a bad or tricky situation. It was especially fun to write season two when a few of their reckless actions in the 1920s have funny consequences later down the line in the 1950s.
RB: Timewasters also deals with racism and the fact, that as Kadiff Kirwan’s character puts it, time travel is, “…what white people do, like skiing or brunch.” Was that a major impetus for wanting to create this series – to tell stories other time travel shows had been avoiding or outright ignoring?
DLT: There was so much untapped comedy. It’s never black people who time travel on TV, and when we do, we can’t just casually blend in and go about our day to day lives like white people; we gotta check the date to make sure we’re not in a time where we’re segregated, hung, or put to work in a cotton field. I’ve always enjoyed pushing the boundaries in everything I write, so sending black people back in time to a very white period in history was a great way of writing some thought provoking, risky but funny stuff.
RB: You both created in, starred in, and wrote (or co-wrote) all of the episodes in season one. Was there a hat you enjoyed wearing the most?
DLT: I’m a fan of all the hats. I love creating characters and writing stories, and I also love playing dress-up which Timewasters basically is. It was also fun to act alongside Kadiff, Ade, and Samson day in and day out. I really can’t say which hat I love most. Please don’t make me choose.
RB: A lot of time travel series take each episode as an opportunity to move around in time, but Nick and his friends stay in one place for the first season. Did you always want to set season one in 1920s London?
DLT: I did. The things we love most about sitcoms are not only the main characters, but the characters and the world that surround them, and I felt jumping to different time periods each episode would lose that. I also felt that there was no way you would be able to really explore and enjoy a specific period of history in just one episode. Luckily the production team was happy with this decision as it kept the budget down.
RB: Nick, the character you play, is definitely the worrier of the group and the one most concerned about getting home. Would that be who you’d be in that situation?
DLT: Without a shadow of a doubt! My sense of history is quite poor, I don’t do well without my creature comforts, and I’m pretty useless without google maps.
RB: As time machines go, the elevator is no TARDIS. Was it always the plan to have their time machine be a disappointment?
DLT: It was. I remember thinking – “where would you least expect to find a time machine?” And a heavily graffitied, urine-sodden elevator came out on top. Adding a homeless guy named Pete as the time lord was the cherry on the cake.
RB: Similarly, the historical figures the group meet in 1920s London leave a lot to be desired. Did you enjoy getting to mess around with these time travel conventions?
DLT: I did. There’s nothing more fun than taking a historical character that is loved and revered, and creating a weird alter ego for them. I may have some explaining to do if I meet them in an afterlife.
RB: While IMDb TV has announced seasons one and two, I haven’t seen anything about season three yet. Is there the possibility of that coming eventually? Also, do have any new projects in the works?
DLT: Lauren Ashley Smith is putting together an amazing US remake, so hopefully, the show will get a new set of wings in a different form! And a few projects are on the horizon which I’ll hopefully get to announce real soon!
RB: Thank you so much for answering these questions, Daniel!
Timewasters starts streaming from today, Friday June 11th on IMDb TV.