Interview: Ashley Storrie Talks About New Comedy Dinosaur

Interview: Ashley Storrie Talks About New Comedy Dinosaur

Brand new BBC Comedy Dinosaur, created by Matilda Curtis and Ashley Storrie, Dinosaur follows Nina (Ashley Storrie, pictured), an autistic woman in her 30s, who adores her life living with her sister and best friend Evie.

Nina’s happily getting through her usual Monday routine, working at the natural History Museum, when her sister Evie drops by for a ‘surprise visit’ after her long weekend away. Stalling at first, Evie finally reveals she’s here to share some news, she’s engaged – to her boyfriend of only six weeks, Ranesh. While Nina is concerned (she hasn’t even met him yet) her parents are thrilled, which baffles her. Her brother Bo just thinks it’s par for the course with Evie.

After venting to Lee, the new and charming coffee van man at work, Nina decides to give Ranesh a chance and let Evie invite him to their weekly takeaway night. However, when she is forced to make small talk with the irritatingly chipper Ranesh and Evie pretends to be a pretentious version of herself, it all becomes too much. Nina escapes to attend some organised fun with her colleagues from work, to Evie’s great surprise.

Nina’s encouraged to get involved with the group, and Evie’s wedding, after a pep talk from her supervisor Declan who, like Nina, is autistic. He understands the particular challenges of doing what the neurotypical people in their lives ask of them.

She returns home on a high, and the sisters make up. Just in time for Evie to excitedly ask Nina to be her maid of Honour. Nina is cornered… she’s in the deep end now.

Dinosaur (6 x 30) is a Two Brothers Pictures (Fleabag, The Tourist) production for BBC Three, BBC iPlayer and BBC Scotland in partnership with All3Media International. Dinosaur was commissioned by Jon Petrie, Director of BBC Comedy and Louise Thornton, Head of Commissioning for BBC Scotland. It is based on an original idea by Matilda Curtis. The Executive Producers are Sarah Hammond, Katie Churchill, Harry Williams, Jack Williams. Catriona Renton is Co-Executive Producer. The Director is Niamh McKeown and the Producer is Brian Coffey. The BBC Commissioning Editors are Emma Lawson and Gavin Smith.

Dinosaur will air on BBC Scotland from Sunday 14 April, BBC Three from Tuesday 16 April and BBC One from Friday 19 April. All episodes will be available on iPlayer from Sunday 14 April.

Interview with Ashley Storrie (Nina)


In your own words, what is Dinosaur about?

Dinosaur is about love, friendship, sisterhood and being your own self even if it makes people uncomfortable because, you should be comfortable.

Tell us how Dinosaur came to be?

I got self-taped during Covid, so I recorded it in my bedroom, by myself, I did all the voices! For a show called Dinosaur about a girl with autism - and I’m on the autism spectrum - that was really cool, as there’s not a lot of opportunities for that to be showcased or for me to be me, so I just auditioned for it, got the part and then they said ‘Would you like to help with the writing and the creating?’ And that’s amazing – so I said ‘Yes please!’ and now here we are.

How did you decide on the direction that the series would take?

We worked on the script mainly through zoom because I was based in Glasgow and Matilda was based in London, and we just went through my life and experiences. We’ve taken from both of our experiences as young women, dating and just living our lives. That’s how it came about with a lot of the stories. Matilda just came in one day and said that she got locked in a toilet so that’s in the script now, and that’s hilarious. True story!

Do you think the Scottish humour in Dinosaur is something that makes it unique?

That’s the thing, people always say that Scottish humour is unique but it’s not. You know there’s that blood type that can be given to any donor? I think that’s Scottish humour. Because I’ve uploaded videos to the internet for years, of jokes, and I have people from all over the world who are like ‘That’s funny, I’m not from anywhere near where that comes from but… that’s funny.’ At Edinburgh Fringe there’s a group of Nigerian girls who come and see me every year because they say the stories about my mum remind them of their mum. I think that’s what makes Scottish comedy great, it’s maybe you don’t fully understand every word that we’re saying but you get by the tone that we’re saying something funny.

What can you tell us about your character Nina?

Nina is a palaeontologist who loves her family. She loves her sister; she loves her city. She’s straight forward, she’s direct and I think she’s sometimes more direct than me. I often feel a little bit envious of that because Nina lives out loud fully who she is and I sometimes still put on my mask to try and be something else, so I do find myself a little bit envious of her at times.

Tell us about Nina’s relationship with her sister Evie?

Nina and Evie are best friends, sisters, bonded through some sort of magical soul bond and they’re a bit co-dependent and overly reliant upon each other and maybe they’re trying to find out who they are without the other. I think that can be true of sisters or best friends, the women you grow up with and latch on to shape you so much and when those friends move on, get married and have babies, sometimes you can often find yourself kind of freewheeling and left behind. I’m so lucky that Kat, who plays Evie, we met, we fell in love, and we get along really well, and I feel so lucky that that happened because this could have been a completely different experience if that wasn’t the case.

What is her relationship like with the rest of her family?

Nina’s parents are tremendous, Ade and Diane. They love her, she loves them and her brother Bo, who’s slightly more contentious. There’s a little bit of push back there from her brother but I think that’s a typical brotherly thing. I don’t know, I don’t have any but I’m basing it on reality television that I’ve watched, so I’m pretty sure that’s how it works. I’ve seen the Kardashians; I know how families operate. I call Bo ‘bawbag’ a lot and I feel like that’s an underrepresented word in British entertainment. I feel like we’ve had a hurricane bawbag, I’ve met a cat called bawbag and I feel like it needs to spread far and wide. Not just across Britain, but across the world. #Bawbag

Tell us about Nina and Lee?

Nina has such a chonky crush on Lee the coffee man. She thinks he is a dreamboat, and she is like ‘Oh, that’s a bit of tasty.’ They bond over coffee and his ability to do funny voices which tickles her pink and it just blossoms from there, it’s a love story. I think Nina and Lee are very similar but also very different and, in another universe, they are solving crimes, they are a detective and a constable running about Glasgow, Taggerting it up. There’s been a murder! A lot of the time we were running about, and it’s gets quite repetitive, so you make up little stories in your head and that was one of our favourites. That we were detectives on the hunt for a baddie.

Who is your favourite character in Dinosaur?
Amber is my favourite character in Dinosaur, she was also my favourite to write. When I wrote her, I always wrote her with long fingernails and when I spoke, I always had to do a lot of finger acting when I was trying to think what she would say. She is a wildcard; every sitcom has one. If you look at Seinfeld, she’s the Kramer of the series. She’s an oddball that pops up at odd times and gets to say the wildest and best things.

What do you hope viewers will take away from the series?

It would mean so much to me if other people felt represented. When I do stand-up comedy, my first thought at the front of my head is that I’m going to say things that maybe other people haven’t said out loud before. Be it about mental health or physical health, how they feel about their families or grief. These are all things that I’ve talked about loads and my main driving force every year at the fringe was just to hope that somebody watching would go ‘Oh I’m not alone’ or ‘I’m not weird, that’s a normal thing.’ So many things I grew up with, maybe because I was isolated or because I didn’t have a lot of friends, but so much of the things I felt and thought, I thought I was so alone, I thought it was just me and that’s the wonderful thing about art and television and poetry and books, it can make people disenfranchise and feel part of something. So that would be a big boon if one person watched it and said, ‘I’m a Nina’, that would be nice.

Do you think that viewers will resonate with the show?

I think everyone can resonate with family, friendships, relationships and the bonds we forge to protect ourselves. I think a lot of people can relate to the idea of being comfortable and stepping out of that comfort. Even though it can sometimes be uncomfortable, in the end, it’s worth the while. I think a big story and a big thread at the heart of Dinosaur is stepping away from your comfort for your own good and I think anyone can relate to that. We’ve all been there; we’ve all done it big and small. I also hope they relate to me because I look like me, I sound like me and I’m me – and I’m still on the telly. How wild is that? You’ve got all your weird looking guys. Your Jonah Hills, your Seth Rogan’s. There’s not a female Seth Rogan! Now you’ve got a big-headed Ashley. You’re welcome.

Do you have a favourite moment or scene within the series?

There is a scene in this series where Evie and I are coming back from a workout, it’s a very small scene, I’m giving her a piggyback and then we talk about Taylor Swift and then we chest bump and that’s my favourite scene.

You have a great cast. What has it been like to work with them?

Whenever you ask Sanjeev or Greg or Sally to just adlib in the background, they will inevitably say something far funnier that I could have written, and I get so distracted by whatever nonsense they are talking that it is nigh impossible to continue what I’m doing, because I just want to listen to them. They’re the greats of Scottish comedy acting. Sally has been in River City for 20 years playing Scarlett, she’s a comedy genius. She will run away if you leave her unattended, she does get easily distracted by brick-a-brac shops but she is one of the funniest people and I know that we see that in River City, Scotland’s best soap, Scotland’s only soap, I know we see a bit of that but we don’t get to see the full range of Sally’s hilarity and I hope that this series, if nothing else, you get to see how funny that woman is.

When I was 17, Greg Hemphill came to my school and did a talk. He got to pick some kids from this audience of maybe 200 teenagers to read a little bit, and I didn’t’ have any friends, as I said, don’t want to harp on about it. So, I didn’t have any friends, I was a loner, I was weird, and I really liked drama. He said, ‘Would anyone like to come up and read a bit of still game?’ and I put up my hand and he said ‘you, what’s your name? and I said ‘Ashley Storrie’ and the rugby players behind me said ‘Ashley Storrie’ and all made fun of me, and I got up and it was an Isa line and it weirdly had something to do with fish fingers and it’s so stuck in my brain. But I read this line in Isa’s voice, I did the old lady voice, I did the scene. And my whole class who had never even noticed me, all started laughing and then they all started cheering and it was the weirdest moment of my life, it was my Rudy moment, it was so strange. Greg Hemphill turned to me in front of my whole class and said, ‘If you ever want a job when you leave school, you can come work with me’ and for three days I was popular, I was cool for three days because of that moment. Getting to kind of come full circle with that and work with him as a grown up is amazing.

How different has acting in a comedy been than stand-up?

True fact, stand-up comedy and acting are so different. There is the instant gratification of stand-up comedy that you don’t get, and the first week I got very vexed when the crew weren’t laughing, and I didn’t understand that they weren’t allowed because that would ruin a take. So, I would amp it up, make full eye contact with the boom operator like ‘Why are you not laughing at my jokes Charles? Laugh!’ Then I learned that’s not how you make telly and now I know.

What was it like filming in your hometown of Glasgow? Were there any standout moments?

I was so excited to start filming, especially in Glasgow. This is my home city, I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world and getting to showcase that and show it off was so exciting. It was the biggest thing I was excited about. Never mind me being on telly, people are going to see Kelvin Way and I’m excited about that.

I think Glasgow has been represented very truthfully, we’re showing it in all its beauty. Glasgow is stunning. It’s one of the prettiest places, it’s a Dear Green Place and we’re showing it in that light and I’m very excited because I think sometimes when growing up, Scotland and Glasgow was always grey and dank and dreary, and that’s not who we are. We’ve not been that since like the 1700’s. Look at us. We’re bright and shiny and new. We’re shiny, simmering and splendid.

The art department are phenomenal. We filmed a couple of days in what was Nina’s office and that was built from scratch. It was literally my dream; it was like a detective Dinosaur office. It was so cool I didn’t want to leave; I could have lived in there. We filmed that in the east end of Glasgow, very close to where I was born and just getting to be in the east end in this weird, fun, Dinosaur capsule that people had created from their imagination was so cool. There’ll be nothing like this again, this is it for me and that’s fine, I’m chill with that, I’m good. If this is the only thing I get to make, then I’m glad it’s this. 

There is neurodiversity on & off the camera in this production, tell us why that was important to you?

I think having neurodiversity in any workplace is a good thing. We think differently, it’s just a different perspective, and different perspectives are always good because you can find the problems with things, or you can find different solutions because you’re looking at it from a different angle. So having people with different brains, if they’re on camera or even if it’s just people who have experience with neurodiversity, I know we’ve got amazing people on our crew who’ve got family members who are neurodiverse, and just having that kind of level of knowledge and that level of acceptance has been amazing. I think it’s also created a really good environment where people don’t feel uncomfortable to talk about these things.

If someone is having a moment, be it me or anybody on the crew, there’s no shame in that, there’s no embarrassment. First week I had my first wobble, I got really claustrophobic in a toilet, I got really frightened and I was so embarrassed, and I went outside. Three days later I no longer felt the shame because nobody made me feel bad, nobody hurried me, nobody rushed me, nobody coddled me. It was just a ‘No that’s fine, sometimes people feel like that and that’s allowed’ I think that’s a great thing. I don’t think that’s just neurodiversity, I think that’s just all of our brains need to be told ‘You’re allowed to feel that way’ and that’s been great for this production.

I’ve never made telly like this before. Up until this point, my experience of television is what they call Fact Ent. Which is Factual Entertainment, which essentially means I get shoved in front of a crew with three people, one camera and a boom operator and I’m told ‘Go milk a cow’ and I do it and I say something funny while I’m doing it, and that’s it.

Niamh, the director, is so kind and so patient and if I don’t understand what’s she’s saying, she doesn’t get frustrated with me she tries to find a different way of explaining it and it’s so helpful. I think she fosters such a good environment on set. I think one of the most amazing things is that we didn’t go into overtime, for a very long time, we were on time, we were efficient. We worked well, the whole crew worked well, without a raised voice, without anyone being a taskmaster (that’s a show I’d like to be on!). Everybody was very kind but still managed to get the job done and I think she is proof that you don’t need to scream, and you don’t need to terrify people to get stuff done, you can do it with kindness, patience and compassion.

Three words to sum up Dinosaur?

Not about Dinosaurs.


Picture by Mark Mainz)



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