Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are back: 'The Trip to Italy'

'The Trip' is back – transported to Italy – and this time it's Rob Brydon who's got the best lines. What does Steve Coogan make of that?

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are walking barefoot along the white sand of a Ligurian beach, backed by houses the colour of birthday cake. "Reminds you of Rhyl Sun Centre, doesn't it?" ruminates Brydon.

That one baffled the audience in Park City, Utah, but most of the gags found fertile ground to fall on. The director of The Trip to Italy, Michael Winterbottom, and the film's two stars were at the world premiere, cuddled in knitwear and tweed against the bracing cold. They looked infinitely more suited for their first gastronomic adventure, The Trip, where Coogan and Brydon visited some of the finest restaurants in the North of England.

Their sequel, set in a glorious Italian summer, is also snort-out-of-your-nose funny, even if it too relies on the winning formula described by Coogan as "we drive through the most spellbinding scenery that I've ever seen in my life, and then we diminish it by talking crap".

The Trip was originally a BBC TV series where Coogan and Brydon continued the fictionalised versions of themselves created in Michael Winterbottom's A Cock and Bull Story. Then it was edited into a feature film that premiered at Toronto in 2010. In it, the pair drove, ate, bickered, pretended to be Michael Caine and spouted Wordsworth at each other. In Italy, they also drive, eat, bicker, pretend to be Michael Caine and spout Byron and Shelley at each other, when Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" isn't on the car stereo. " You liked the Nineties, didn't you Steve?" quips Brydon. "You and Blur and Oasis, hanging out in London, you had it going on."

Winterbottom says the idea of the sequel is supposed to be "a homage to Byron and Shelley, a pilgrimage to the places they lived in". It would be cruel to compare our heroes to a pair of ageing Romantics, but there's a touch of the genteel middle-aged English gentlemen on their Grand Tour, in their Panama hats, linen trousers and jackets, sandals and, unforgivably, mid-calf shorts. Not that it stops Brydon from adopting local customs and acting like a Lothario to a yacht attendant, or as he puts it, "She shivers my timbers."

Once again the entire film is improvised, with Coogan describing how "Michael came to us with a framework of where he wanted the script to go and then we just talk. When he likes something, he'll just wander up and say, 'Do some more of that stuff.' Actually, I wouldn't even call what we were given a script. And I never bother learning it as every day Michael would look at it and say, 'That's not very interesting is it? Let's do something else.'"

His "methods" help produce arguably some of the finest improv in British comedy, with some great one-liners ("Where do you stand on Michael Bublé?" "On his windpipe?") and a side-splitting exchange over lunch as Bane and Batman from The Dark Knight try to make themselves understood. Tom Hardy and Christian Bale aren't the only celebrities to cop it. Jude Law is described as a " young-looking bald man" while Tom Jones, Sean Connery, Hugh Grant, Michael Parkinson and, it being Italy, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola are all mimicked by Brydon. "I did everyone that I know how to do well," he recalls. " And some I don't do at all well. I think everything aired."

Brydon remembers that on The Trip around the North of England, he put on half a stone, and this time made some half-hearted efforts not to eat everything that was put in front of him. Brydon remembers that on 'The Trip' around the North of England, he put on half a stone, and this time made some half-hearted efforts not to eat everything that was put in front of him Their exchanges make improvisation look easy, but then on-screen they have the air of a long-married couple, finishing each other's sentences. Off screen too, Brydon says they've spent so much time together – The Trip to Italy was completed in a month – that they make good travelling companions: "Except I only talk to Steve through a third party now, since he got an Oscar nomination."

The tension in Coogan and Brydon's relationship is exemplified by Brydon supposedly getting his big break in America: an audition for a part in a Michael Mann film, where he'll play a Mafia accountant, or as Coogan bitchily puts it: "He'll be lethal with a pen." An audition scene ensues with a Godfather/Goodfellas send-up that one feels is not entirely just a vehicle for Brydon's impersonation skills, but for Winterbottom to pay his own hammy homage to the mob film genre. When Brydon, astonishingly, gets the part, Coogan blurts out jealously that he'll be rubbish.

Quite the opposite sentiment seems to be true in real life – this Trip is very much centred on Brydon, with his partner generously content to play the straight man. When Brydon is in full flow in Capri, pretending to be Parky interviewing Coogan, his companion is laughing so hard that it's obvious he's fallen out of character.

In the past year, of course, Steve Coogan can do no wrong: the Oscar nomination for adapting the screenplay of Philomena, and a triumphant return for his best know creation in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. Clearly, in North America, he's the better known of the two, receiving heartfelt congratulations from the audience at Sundance for Philomena, leading Brydon to comment: "So nice of you, Steve, to bring your agent here tonight."

However, if The Trip to Italy gets a cinema release in the US, Brydon's star should shine brightly too. Already, he says, fans come up to him worldwide, "and they like to quote things to me from the first series. I find that if people love The Trip, they really, really, love it. It's got a cult following outside Britain."

The Trip to Italy also provides plenty of quote-alongs, even if they are very British in-jokes: (" I want to be remembered for having six Baftas," comments Coogan. "You've only got five," Brydon ripostes. "I'm getting the sixth for this," comes the reply.) The comedians so clearly enjoy riffing off each other that it's surprising that once again, Winterbottom was the driving force behind getting the sequel made, and that the combination of the words "Italy", "food" and "scenery", all to be filmed in June, didn't cause an immediate stampede.

As they work their way down from Liguria, through Rome and Amalfi and Capri, so the meals lighten from heavy quail, creamy ravioli, roasted lamb, to calamari, linguine, lobster, accompanied by sunshine-coloured wines. As they travel down from Liguria, through to Capri, so the meals lighten from heavy quail an creamy ravioli to calamari and lobster "He had to persuade us to do the first one in England," Steve Coogan says, "and it was only halfway through that I realised that it really was something different, that this was actually original. And it had been a couple of years since we'd toured the Lakes and Dales, and Michael got in touch with us and said, 'How about a second one? Why don't we go to Italy?' This is the fifth time we've worked together, so he's like family, and I thought, 'Why not?' And the scenery and the food was terrific, I don't think we can complain."

Winterbottom clearly loves Italia. He's making The Face of an Angel, the story of Amanda Knox, which will be his third film set in that country. As Coogan and Brydon's Mini Cooper speeds through the countryside, one catches delicious glimpses of vineyards, church spires, terracotta walls, stone angels, dappled sea, all set to the soaring soundtrack of Verdi or Puccini, (when they can tear themselves away from "Jagged Little Pill").

This though, can only be an appetiser. The main course for all the senses – apart from, frustratingly for the viewer, taste – has to be the food. As they work their way down from Liguria, through Rome and Amalfi and Capri, so the meals lighten from heavy quail, creamy ravioli, roasted lamb, to calamari, linguine, lobster, accompanied by sunshine-coloured wines. You will come away starving.

Brydon remembers that on The Trip around the North of England, he put on half a stone, and this time made some half-hearted efforts not to eat everything that was put in front of him. "We tried to go for runs and do a couple of push-ups, but after that we gave up the ghost, as we were eating in some of Italy's best restaurants," he continues. "It was pretty pathetic, two middle-aged men who would meet every morning at breakfast and ask each other, "Did you do any sit-ups today?"

At nearly two hours long, the film does make too much of a meal of it and would benefit from rationing, but overall this Trip is, as the Italians say, spumante. "Did you ever hear of a good sequel?" Brydon says to Coogan at one point, having a sly dig. " The Godfather II," replies Coogan. "That's what they all say," Brydon retorts. " The Godfather II, the exception that proves the rule." Not quite up there with the work of a Coppola, yet The Trip to Italy is another exception for a sequel.

'The Trip to Italy' will be broadcast on TV in the UK later in the year

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine