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The fans behind unofficial 'This Country' podcast on speaking to the show's stars, reaching 100 episodes and their upcoming live show

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Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Monday, 28th October 2019, 09:00

(L-R) Pavo and Neil with ‘This Country’ stars Daisy and Charlie Cooper (L-R) Pavo and Neil with ‘This Country’ stars Daisy and Charlie Cooper

‘This Country’ is well regarded by many as one of the best modern-day British comedies.

Based and filmed in Northleach, the BAFTA award-winning BBC sitcom stars Cirencester-born siblings Daisy and Charlie Cooper as cousins Kerry and Kurtan Mucklowe.

The show has amassed a cult following with fans from all around the world, affectionately known as ‘The Dump Gang’, after a gang invented by Kerry in the show.

Two well-known members of The Dump Gang are Carl ‘Pavo’ Pawlowski and Neil Gardiner, who have taken their love of the show to the next level, with the WTAF Podcast.

“I had taken redundancy so was between jobs,” explained Pavo. “In those two months I equipped our little studio, and started teaching myself how to make, edit and broadcast podcasts. Pancast PODuctions was born.”

Both Neil and Pavo were born and raised in Gloucestershire and have been friends for years.

“I’ve known Neil for a long time,” continued Pavo. “He was my brother’s best man and I had tried to do a podcast with my brother but he wasn’t interested, so Neil and I thought we’d give it a go.

“We had a chat and after about 30 minutes we had the idea for two podcasts – ‘Movie Heaven’, where we chatted to guests about their favourite moments in cinema, and a music based podcast called ‘Live @ the Shed’ where we’d invite music talent to our little studio to perform live and chat about their music.”

But the boy’s biggest project came about after interviewing Daisy and father Paul, who also stars in the show as Kerry’s father.

Pavo explained: “At one point we had eight podcasts of varying subjects and styles on the go. We had had Daisy and Paul Cooper in as guests where we first heard about ‘Kerry’, Daisy’s pilot show that would become ‘This Country’.

“As I was always on the lookout for new podcast ideas I thought we could maybe corner the market, as we had a nice relationship with the wonderful Cooper family, and after seeing the first episode we thought this is going to be brilliant. So WTAF began.”

The podcast’s title comes from one of Kerry Mucklowe’s many sayings, and the first episode was released in October 2017.

Two years on, Pavo and Neil have produced over 100 episodes, interviewing the show’s stars and celebrity ‘superfans’, as well as discussing and dissecting episodes.

Pavo said: “I started trying to get the cast members booked as guests and couldn’t believe when we got Big Mandy (Ashley McGuire) and The Rev (Paul Chahidi) as guests straight off the bat!

“Every single one of our quests have been wonderful, genuinely wonderful. Our 100th episode is the best way to find out what our thoughts are on the guests. Just to say we have been very, very lucky!”

One guest that stands out for Pavo is the late Michael Sleggs, who sadly passed away this July.

Sleggs, who played Michael ‘Slugs’ Slugette, was a close friend of the Coopers and appeared on the podcast in January 2018.

The boys also released a special tribute episode this summer compiled of his best bits from the show and other appearances on the podcast.

Pavo said: “Of course our most popular moment will always be tinged with sadness due to Michael Sleggs’ premature passing.

“I still don’t quite know how to feel about the whole thing but I’ve been assured by many people that Michael would have been proud that we had gained more popularity. That was the mark of the man.”

Many of the cast have become good friends to Pavo and Neil, who this month will be hosting a live show, at the Sundial Theatre.

Pavo says the success of the podcast has been a hugely pleasant surprise, but adds that they wouldn’t be where they are today without the support of the show and their fans.

“This has by far been the most successful podcast we’ve been involved in and we know it’s not because of us it’s because of the show. We just stand on the shoulders of giants.

“The one thing that is amazing is the ‘This Country’ fanbase. The Dump Gang are one of the most caring and loving bunch of fans I’ve ever come across. They are very loyal, not just to the show but to each other always ready to lend an ear if someone needs it. It truly is a beautiful thing to be a part of.

“To have a podcast that has reached the giddy heights of the top three in the Apple Podcast charts is crazy for two guys in a small shed in Cirencester but we are proud that we have 100 episodes of a podcast for a TV show that has only had 12 episodes, a special and a Comic Relief skit!”

With another series of ‘This Country’ in the works and due for release in the coming months, the boys will be sure to have plenty more material for future episodes.

But what is it about the show that they and so many others love?

“It’s ‘Office-esque’ in the fact it can be making you laugh one moment then on a breath make you cry,” said Pavo.

“It’s because you genuinely care for the characters and that’s all on the writing and performance.

“Apart from the fact it’s wonderful to see friends become famous and successful I truly believe we would have started this podcast even if we hadn’t known Daisy and Charlie because the show is so good.”

“They are so appreciative of our work in getting more people to know about their show and in the end that’s the whole point of the podcast. To get as many people to know about the TV show as possible.”

On Friday 29th November WTAF Live will be at the Sundial Theatre in Cirencester.

It’s the third time the pair have done a live version of the show, and Pavo expects it to be the best yet.

He added: “It’ll be another night of fun This Country themed fun with a few special guests, music and comedy. We’ll also be holding our first ever Dump Gang Olympics where people need to send in their best-worst tattoo, best scarecrow, best cake and best BAFTA dress!

“We did our first live show last year not knowing if it was even going to work and two sold out shows later we’re going to try again! It’ll be fun no matter what!

“We don’t know how long This Country will last but we’ll keep scraping the barrel to get as many episodes as possible out of it because we love the show, we love the fans and we love podcasting!”

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