The Nevers exclusive interview with Laura Donnelly and Ann SkellyMay 10 | 3 min read
Intelligence: David Schwimmer and Nick Mohammed’s new TV series is set to be the next big workplace comedy
Maverick NSA agent Jerry meets inept computer analyst Joseph in Intelligence, a brand new comedy show on Sky One and NOW TV in the UK.
Watch Intelligence on NOW TV
From power dynamics to office mundanities, there’s a reason TV shows like The Office and The IT Crowd have such appeal - workplaces, after all, are ripe with comedy potential.
Brand new Sky original series Intelligence combines the high-stakes environment of a government intelligence office with the hilarious on-screen dynamic of David Schwimmer (Friends, American Crime Story) and comedian Nick Mohammed.
Schwimmer plays pompous maverick NSA agent Jerry, who comes over from the States to join the UK’s GCHQ - a geekier version of MI5, where they tackle international and domestic cyber crime from a desktop.
Jerry enlists inept and tactless computer analyst Joseph (Mohammed) in a power grab that threatens to disrupt the team’s ability to combat cyber terrorism.
From the brilliantly funny setting to the pair’s improvised comedy, we reveal our top three reasons to watch Intelligence on NOW TV and Sky One.
1. The GCHQ setting is brilliantly funny
The very serious setting of GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters - the UK’s real-life intelligence and security organisation) is actually ripe for humour.
Nick explains: “The national security thing is obviously a really great backdrop for a sitcom because you can have high stakes set against, ‘It's Elaine's birthday. Do you mind signing this card?’ kind of thing.
“That's the base note of the show, really. All that human side is still ongoing despite the high-level stuff these people are having to deal with on a daily basis.”
In fact, Nick and David spoke to both GCHQ, who contacted the pair upon hearing about the show, and its US equivalent the NSA - and some of that has weaved its way into the programme.
Nick said: “GCHQ phoned, in a very friendly way, just saying they're interested in the show and, ‘How can we help you in any way?’
“Obviously, there's an element of ‘We just want to know how we're being portrayed’, but we sat down with a representative from GCHQ and they were really wonderful, actually.”
David adds: “We found out so much interesting stuff that informed the show. There's no dress code, so people are in cargo shorts and flip-flops and other people come in full military dress.
“There are people from all over the world that are working there in every possible attire, and there are kids with hoodies.”
2. They’re a hilarious on-screen double act
Nick wrote the part of NSA agent specifically for Schwimmer, having previously worked with the Friends actor on a Julia Davis sitcom that didn’t make it to series.
After that first meeting, the pair knew quite quickly that they’d work well together. They kept in touch before Nick wrote the script for Intelligence and sent it to David.
David explains: “The initial email was just an outline of what Nick envisioned the show being. I thought it was a really funny and original idea and I was just excited about working with Nick.”
Nick adds: “I think you can almost immediately tell whether - it sounds really pretentious to say - but whether you can resonate [working together].”
In fact the pair had so much fun on the set of Intelligence that they ended up improvising from scene to scene.
David says: “We keep ending up with way too much material. There's some scenes that naturally lend themselves to a lot more improv than others.
“The other day we had a polygraph test scene where my character was doing a lie detector on every one of our main characters. I just came up with, like, 40 extra questions and everyone just improvised in response. Every character. That was a lot of fun.”
Nick adds: “We've been lucky that we've had at least a couple more read-throughs than you would usually have. That’s been useful because we've been able to workshop scenes.
“You don't usually get that luxury. We're always trying to find ways of making scenes better or more punchy.”
3. Jerry's back-story isn't all that it seems
The first episode of Intelligence sees Jerry join the GCHQ team, which particularly excites Joseph.
Of his arrival, David explains: “Jerry immediately surmises that the main problem is morale. And also that there aren’t enough plants in the office, not enough oxygen, there's no sunlight. He's already immediately thinking of all the ways to build the team up.”
But keep watching because it might not be all as it seems - and it’s revealed throughout the series that Jerry is there for a reason other than he claims...
David teases: “Basically he’s gotten himself into some pretty hot water by doing some nefarious work at the NSA.”
Nick says: “Christine, who’s the director of cyber security, quite stiff upper lip, very British, is on to him and we track that story across the series.”
Hmm, what IS Jerry doing there then?
All episodes of Intelligence are streaming now on Sky One and NOW TV.
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