‘Dead Pixel’ Interview: Writer Jon Brown & Star Alexa Davies Discuss Season 2, Gaming & Eating Cheesestring!

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22 Jan 21

‘Dead Pixel’: Writer Jon Brown & Star Alexa Davies Discuss Season 2

Way, way back… in a world before masks, lockdowns, and Zoom calls, when we could still leave the house and stand within two meters of each other, I had the chance to visit the set of the brilliant E4, part live-action, part video game, sitcom Dead Pixels as the filmed Season 2, along with chat to the writer and some of the cast.

For those of you that haven’t caught the series, ‘Dead Pixels’ comes from writer Jon Brown (‘Loaded’, ‘Fresh Meat’, ‘Veep’) and follows Meg (Alexa Davies – ‘Detectorists’, ‘Harlots’), Nicky (Will Merrick – ‘Poldark’) and Usman (Sargon Yelda – ‘Strike’), three friends obsessed with the popular MMORPG Kingdom Scrolls, set in a magical world of wizards, orcs and wyverns. They are committed to the game above all else… much to the annoyance of “normo” flatmate Alison (Charlotte Ritchie – ‘Call the Midwife’).

With ‘Dead Pixels’ Season 2 set to premieres Tuesday, 26th January 2021 at 10pm on E4, we can finally release a little bit more information about where we find the characters and what will happen in the upcoming season. To help explain, a group of us sat down with screenwriter/creator Jon Brown (‘Loaded’, ‘Fresh Meat’, ‘Veep’) and star Alexa Davies to chat about the show in general, how the world has changed for our “heroes”, both inside the game and IRL (in real life), and how that evolution has affected Meg, Nicky, and Usman.

Jon starts by explaining where we pick things up.

Jon: We’re nine months on from the end of the first series. And the first episode picks up with Meg and Nicky on the day that the expansion pack launches, so they’re very excited that the game that they love so much and that they’ve played to exhaustion is about to open up. And there’s a load of new content and a whole new world for them to explore.

And so the first episode is what happens on their big expansion and their dreams of the new game. The reality… often you spend a long time waiting for these things, building up all your hopes and dreams, and then you finally download it and play it, and it’s never quite the magical dream world that you think. And so that’s the first episode. It’s kind of Meg facing the reality of what their beloved Kingdom Scrolls, what’s happened to it.

Did you always have the expansion pack plot device up your sleeve? Because the end of the first series could have been an ending, couldn’t it?

Jon: Yeah, that’s right. I liked the building to a climax of season one and Meg and Nicky’s relationship. It felt like it built something, hopefully, that was quite satisfying. But then these sort of human relationships of these games never really end. There’s always another chapter, another instalment. And the idea of building on their game… I love all that. I won’t call it “geek culture” because I feel like I’m part of that and I don’t mean it in a pejorative way, but in that culture, just the hype cycles are so intense and extreme.

I almost find that building up to a game is almost more enjoyable than playing it. I’ve spent more time watching and reading about games than I do playing them. I buy video games magazines still, and I spend a lot of time reading about them, and then they come out and I play them, and it’s never entirely how you had it in your head. So often, those cycles of just hype and reality, I think are quite funny, and I wanted to show from the inside what that feels like when you build up everything and you pin all your hopes and dreams onto something, and then you play it and it’s a reality check.

Are you worried that there is an analogy of the second series? This is the Dead Pixels expansion pack?

Jon: [Laughs] Yeah. And in all the best possible ways I think it is! There are some things about the show that I wanted to change after Season One. One big thing was Charlotte Ritchie [long-suffering flatmate, Alison], who we cast fairly late in Series One, and I think had I known that it would be her and how successfully I thought she played with Alexa and Will, I would’ve written more for her, and she would’ve been a bigger part of the show. The perspective that she brought to the show was great. All the flat scenes, I loved. So I wanted to bring her into the world a bit more, make her more central so there was a kind of three-way relationship at the heart of the show.

I also wanted to broaden it out because these games are so international, and basically, when you go online, you can be playing with anyone from anywhere, and I wanted to reflect that in the show. So this time around, we’ve got scenes in South Korea, the Philippines. We just shot something this morning that’s in Salzburg. We’ve got a new cast member who’s from New Zealand. I just wanted it to feel more of an international, global, worldwide thing. And so we’ve broadened it out and brought in new characters and opened the world up so it feels like it’s rooted in the flat but once they go online then they can be talking to people from anywhere, in different timezones all around the world.

And what’s different about the look of the game, would you say, now that it’s changed and been upgraded?

Jon: It’s been upgraded. The thing that they soon realise is that they’ve taken a new direction with the expansion pack and they’re going after the ‘Fortnite’ money and those kinds of game elements, that it’s gone for that mass market of nine years old who want characters that do funny dances and wear stupid hats. So they’ve introduced microtransactions and there are loot crates. It has basically gone from being this quite hardcore, quite fringe online role-playing game to being a mass-market prospect.

For the look of it, we’ve upgraded the graphics. Keyframe, who do our animation are incredible! Often the stuff they do is almost… Like, sometimes it’s too beautiful and I have to say, “Can you make it look a bit shitter?” Because when you play those games, they are often glitchy!
I was actually playing the new ‘Call of Duty’ the other day, and even on that you still get stuff that just pops up. You still get bits of foliage and stuff that look a bit glitchy… and it’s a beautiful game, incredible to look at. So I always felt like those things worked in our favour actually. When it’s glitchy and it feels real, it’s better. We’re not trying to make a photo-real world. I think you can get in trouble when you do. Things like ‘Ready Player One’, when you get into that sort of “uncanny valley” thing of the photo-realistic is harder to connect. But when it’s kind of cartoony, it’s a little bit more abstract. So, it looks nice that we’ve upgraded everything. It’s still a bright and, probably even brighter, I’d say, and more colourful world because the game’s makers are going for that bigger “kiddie” audience.

What’s happening to our characters outside of the game world?

Jon: Meg and Nicky’s lives I guess have slightly been encased in carbonite, a bit like Han Solo. They’re in an emotional deep freeze because, I think they struggle to develop much emotionally, so you won’t find that they’ve suddenly adapted to the world.

In their jobs, Meg is fairly successful, which is something that she finds confusing and frustrating, that she gets promoted, and she has extra responsibility. But in terms of emotionally, they’re still in that stunted, weird zone where they’re dependent on each other but unable to articulate anything deeper than, “Will you play games with me today?”, “Yes, I will.” And that’s where they are. They’re locked in that limbo.

With the game and the characters evolving in Season 2, how are they reacting to the game changes?

Jon: As they’re getting older, they start to feel like perhaps this shift to a younger demographic… Maybe this isn’t “my game” anymore. Maybe it’s time. And that kind of ‘Toy Story’ thing that I’ve always liked, and I’ve always felt that it’s in our show too. It feels like at a certain point, these characters will have to grow older, and they will at some point have to leave it behind in the way that Andy [the kid in Toy Story] did.

At some point, they will find that they’re probably too old to play this game and it’s not for them anymore. And I think the age they’re at, for Meg in particular. She’s kind of at that point where it’s started to feel like, “I don’t know if this is my game anymore. Maybe it’s time that I left it behind.” Nicky is still in the heart of it all, and he’s too scared. Meg and Nicky are a funny double act, that often double acts are… With ‘Peep Show’ or ‘The Odd Couple’, they’ll be complete opposites, whereas Meg and Nicky are both in a sort of similar bubble. Their differences are in their worldview, and Meg is looking outwards and Nicky’s looking inwards. So Meg is thinking ” maybe it’s time for me. Maybe I can’t play this game anymore. Maybe it’s not for my generation,” whereas Nicky is trying to hold onto it and he’s trying to hold her in. He’s trying to hold her back and be like, “We don’t need to worry. We can stay here forever,” and I think he needs someone to break him out of that bubble.

It’s like reflections on getting older and when you start to feel like you have to think about your life differently, and whether you’re ready to leave these things behind. This crutch of the game that they have, that they use to communicate with each other. Do they still need it or can they move beyond it? And I wanted to reflect all of that stuff this time around.

It was around this point Alexa Davies, who plays Meg in the show, entered the room and joined us to chat.

Switching over to Alexa, is this more sitting down than you’ve had in any other acting role?

Alexa: [Laughs] I think so, yeah. But this series was standing up a lot more. It’s amazing! Series one was like, if we were in the kitchen, it was a very exciting day. You’re rarely ever in the kitchen or the living room. But this series they are, as Jon says, Meg especially, taking a step away from the game because she’s in a funny place of trying to figure things out for herself. So amazingly, we’ve only done a few bits at the computer so far. This Thursday and Friday we’re about to have our crazy days of shooting loads of stuff at the computers. I’ve been on my feet a lot. But yes, still a lot of sitting down.

And how do you feel that Meg is dealing with this… Not exactly a crisis, but this thinking about, “Where’s my life going now? Is it time to be more grown-up?”

Alexa: Not well. I think she is taking baby steps, I think, forwards. She’s evolving a little bit. And that’s very exciting, but I do still think it’s not an overnight miracle. She’s not turned into Alison straightaway. There is still lots more room for her to grow and to change. So there are new things for this series. A lot of exciting things. Things that we wouldn’t have expected of her in series one, but then she’s still Meg. She still doesn’t deal with things very brilliantly.

Can you personally relate to that, this idea that she’s starting to think, “Maybe I should be being a proper adult?”

Alexa: Yeah [Laughs]. I really think I’ve got my shit fully together as a 24-year-old. Sometimes I think maybe I’m really boring because I bake my own bread and I take myself to bed by nine o’clock. I think I’m extremely different from Meg. But yeah, I find it easy to relate to Meg but in a way of… When I was 18, I think I was really questioning a lot, and I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t know who I was and where I fit into the world. So it’s easy to just think back to that and understand why she can get the way she gets. But yeah, I like to think of myself as more of an Allison in real life.

One of the things I like about the show is they’re not portrayed as “silly gaming nerds”. You can see also what they’re getting out of it.

Alexa: Yeah, no, not at all. What I love about the show is they’re not people who live in their houses all the time in front of their computers. They are people who go out and they work and, more so in this series, they have these human relationships, and that’s really important to them as well. It’s just that this game is something that they treasure and they love, and it’s something that they’re good at. And it does help them in a way. It’s kind of a crutch for Meg and Nicky and their relationship and talking to each other.

Have you had real-life gamers relating to your character? Because it all seems very plausible.

Alexa: Gamers I know in real life, friends of mine who have seen it, immediately understand where they’re coming from and why they play the game, and why they love it so much. I think people who don’t game will never understand the little frustrations. Like, in this series, there’s an unbeatable… well… they think an unbeatable… level for a while and that just seems such a tiny problem. It’s not an issue. They still have a flat. They still have jobs. They still have friends. But, it becomes this awful, awful awful thing because they just can’t do it and they don’t know why, and they end up thinking that they’re incredibly ill because there’s no other explanation!

Are you doing any more cosplay in series two?

Alexa: No. We’re not, are we? Jon replies “no”, to which Alexa seems extremely relieved! 

Alexa: I’m quite glad because it was an incredibly sweaty week that week. I don’t know what happened to it. I’m assuming they burnt it! [laughs]

Were you tempted to take it to a Comic-con?

Alexa: No, I just think it would’ve been so grim in there! I like going to the ‘Star Trek’ conventions every year, and it’s such a… I think Meg’s costume looks great on screen, and I showed it to some of… I have a video on my phone of when we did series one, and our makeup girls were stood with fans on me the whole time because it was so warm. But the crew was so impressed by the costume, because it is amazing, and it was all padding and the detail was great. I reckon if I rocked up in that Meg costume, I would be laughed at because Meg’s got a certain level of quality to her costume, but fucking hell, people are so good at it, aren’t they?

I was at MCM Comic-Con a few weeks ago. Some of the costumes are astonishing.

Alexa: It’s incredible! There were loads of people at this convention that had clearly come on their own, just to show off their thing, and people were stopping them for pictures all the time like they were celebrities in there. It’s amazing. So I wouldn’t rock up in my Meg costume. People go in full body paint. There was this couple that were green, head to toe. It’s so funny when you go to a loo. And there’s a Wetherspoons in the NEC in Birmingham where they held it, and there are people who are just waiting for their flight from Birmingham international, and then there’s Ferengi at the bar, ordering a pint. It’s amazing!

Do you like going to conventions?

Alexa: I do! Well… I only really go to the Star Trek one because I’m a Star Trek fan, but I love it, and it’s such an amazing feeling of having everyone in a room, being there for the same reason. Everybody loves the same thing and that’s why we’re there. It’s just lovely. The first time I went, I really thought I’d be a bit of fish out of water because there are people who really their love for TV shows very seriously. But it’s just not that at all. It’s such an equal playing field. Everyone’s just really happy to be there.

Is that a useful gateway for Meg? Can you kind of channel your love for ‘Star Trek’ to ‘Dead Pixels’?

Alexa: Yeah, definitely. And just any love for gaming or things like that. Having a love for… I think the word that comes to mind is cult, not in a weird religious way, but Nicky and Meg having that love for something that isn’t widely understood. Yeah, it’s very handy.

Has it been useful seeing the fully realised Kingdom Scrolls? Because I imagine when you filmed series one, you kind of only had treatments?

Alexa: Yeah, we’d only seen snippets, so yeah, it is really useful. You’re just getting to see the way the game works, and the way that the characters interact in the game, and the way it all works, and how open the game is, with Greta and Morwick. And I love it, and it is great, and it is very handy. Like I say, we’ve been on our feet a lot this series, but when it gets really helpful is when we are sat at the computers, and knowing that that’s going on, as we obviously don’t have it on-screen in front of us.

And you got some new gamers from around the world this season?

Jon: Yeah, who’s a female gamer who Nicky falls in love with. She’s a backpacker from New Zealand, staying in Europe, and in the way that YouTubers and people can do very easily, she’s become a kind of cult figure amongst like horny young men who’ve started to obsess about her and look into every outfit that she wears and detail everything, all the food that she eats, and there are various theories about how tall she is, and some people think she’s a giant and other people think that she’s very small, but no one really knows the true answer. So, found herself in this weird situation where she’s gone from being a very normal person, and just by the fact that she’s that kind of “unicorn” in that she’s an attractive girl who plays video games, she’s now this kind of cult figure with three Reddit threads that are all about her.

We’ve got a guy called DVT who’s a male… How would you describe him in… I won’t say that he’s alt-right, but he’s in the darker end of the spectrum, I would say. He’s based in the Philippines, and he’s obsessed with the character Daisy Chain, and he leads this group of disciples who are obsessed with her, and he becomes an enemy for Nicky. A kind of nemesis for him.

And is Meg okay with Nicky’s interest in this new girl?

Alexa: She loves her! I mean, at the start I think Meg’s very territorial. I don’t necessarily know if Meg wants Nicky, or really needs him… I mean, that’s a whole other issue… but at the beginning, it’s immediately like, well, who is this girl? She does get quite jealous, and plays up these theories, and takes the piss a lot.

Jon: Should also add that at the same time, is that Meg has a real-life boyfriend… So there’s a competitive element between them, realising that they both decide together that they’re going to get partners or they’re going to start dating again. And so Meg finds a real-life “normo” that she likes but doesn’t know how to process it, so she doesn’t pay much attention to him. She just thinks he’s just a man and it’s fine. He’s just a bloke.

Then Alison starts to realise that he’s actually really interesting and Meg’s like, “Oh, is he? That’s great…” [Laughs] So she has this guy that, because she’s emotionally quite scared, doesn’t really want to let him in very close. And so she holds him at arm’s length. But then Nicky finds a girlfriend, and so it becomes a kind of one-upmanship, and their relationships start to inform each other. Obviously, sitting underneath, it’s this unspoken bond between Meg and Nicky. And so they both end up on these parallel tracks of having relationships at the same time.

And does Meg’s new boyfriend get drawn into the gaming world?

Alexa: No, not at all. I think that’s because Meg likes keeping them separate. Meg has that already. In Series One she has a line about Russell in where she says, “Russell in the bed, Nicky in the head.” She’s very good at compartmentalising, or like she thinks she is, in that, that’s the game. No one needs to join the game, she’s got the people that she plays the game with.

Meeting Greg, who is completely separate… He’s a real-life man who she’s not met through the game, and there’s never an attempt on her part really to draw him into it. Because there’s a moment where you think if she wanted to she could have, in that moment, when they’re queuing. Then she could have said, “Play with me.” She doesn’t want to, because “Greg’s in the bed and…”

Jon: She’s good at compartmentalising things, I think, and quite carefully keeping a feeling so they all seem in quite clear places. I think she’s got a box for Greg that she puts him in, but it doesn’t really fit him, and it’s not actually who he is. He comes around as a boiler repairman, and so she’s just like, “He’s a tradesman. He’s one of those. I just want to fuck the tradesman and that’s great.” But what starts to happen is that he’s more than that. He’s not just a two-dimensional figure. He’s actually a real person and that’s quite scary because she might-

Interesting that he’s a plumber though!

Alexa: Why?

Jon: Are you thinking Mario?… Yeah, we should have used that! [Laughs]

You mentioned there’s a character who is kind of alt-right. There’s an element of video games online, which is slightly dodgy, chauvinistic, with “Gamergate”, all that kind of stuff. So do you think about that much? Do you want to nod to it?

Jon: Yeah, it’s a nod towards that. I’d be reluctant to frame it in that way, but he’s on that end of the spectrum. I mean, I’ve avoided it because it feels like that Gamergate thing cast such a long shadow, and it seemed, for a while, to be the thing that people who would hear about video games would hear about, and they’d know about, Gamergate.

My experience is that its such a small percentage of people who play games. Alexa’s was talking about conventions. If you guys had LAN parties or retro game things that I sometimes go to, you don’t meet those people. I guess I’d be concerned about trying to paint the picture that everyone who plays video games… Or if you go online, this is the kind of people you’re going to meet.

There are those people. Obviously, they’re around, and like I say, DVT’s on this continuum of that. But also, it’s just such a negative energy that is not really funny to me. There’s not much that’s funny about those people. Our world is quite brightly coloured and relatively friendly, and I just didn’t really feel like I wanted to give those people any air time, more than they already have.

An equally nerdy question… Would Kingdom Scrolls work as a real game? Is there enough backstory and thought into it to do that?

Jon: Yeah, I think it would work as a kind of ‘Elder Scrolls’, ‘World of Warcraft’ type online role-playing game. It would be pretty generic, and I think Meg and Nicky are completely devoted to it, and they have a historical love for the game. The truth is, if you were to place it in the ecosystem of role-playing games, it’s not the greatest and most the original. It’s quite generic and relatively formulaic. But they just have an attachment to it that goes back so long that it’s deeper than about how good it is. It’s not about how good it is anymore, in a way. It’s comforting to them. And it’s just like a nice pair of slippers. And so they just love the fact that they’ve grown up with it. And that was why the change in this one is quite jarring for them, because it’s not quite as they remember it and it’s becoming something different.

Have you personally had any experience of that happening to a game you played? ‘Star Wars Galaxies’ is the one that comes to mind, that had a massive change which destroyed the player base.

Jon: Yeah. I find that really interesting. I’d love to do an episode around the decline of virtual worlds in the way that happened with ‘Star Wars Galaxies’ and how they end up and how players can just desert it, and it can end up as a barren wasteland. I’d love to do something like that at a later stage. I play ‘Ghost Recon Wildlands’ a lot, and me and my friends really love that. The sequel came out recently, and it was just such a crushing disappointment. It was just so sad. It’s so glitchy, and it went away from a real-world location to this fictionalised island, and it just lost everything about it that I loved. And honestly, we’d been waiting for that game for easily nine months. We’d been talking about it. And within two weeks it was like, “Well let’s fuck it off and put on eBay, and I guess we just have to try and ‘Call of Duty’ and hope that we like that. It’s let us down.” Even Ubisoft put out a statement to say, “Yeah, we fucked it up. We got it wrong this time.”

At least they’re owning it.

Jon: I suppose so, yeah. I guess so. And also, the thing with games now have such long tales and they are so long, like ‘No Man’s Sky’, can come out and it can not be the game you wanted it to be. But then, nine months later, they can patch it and –

It’s an incredible turnaround.

Jon: Yeah, it’s remarkable, right? So I guess games live longer now, and maybe that’s Meg’s hope for Kingdom Scrolls expansion, is give it a year and they’ll fix it.

Did you like Call of Duty?

Jon: I quite like it, yeah. It was quite nice just to play something that’s mindless. I played lots of open-world games for a while, and to have a more authored experience of a game that was just designed for pure fun and isn’t open world… I just got bored of “walking” in games [Laughs]. Like ‘Red Dead Redemption’. It’s amazing, but I’ve got to walk 30 minutes between the good bits, and I’m too old now, I don’t have the time. I’ve got children. I don’t have time to spend 40 minutes of walking to have six minutes of fun. So yeah, I quite like CoD. It’s just good to play something that’s just, kind of, visceral, even though I haven’t played a game like that for a while and I forgot just how visceral it was and started to think, “Yeah, this could turn me into a psychopath.” [Laughs] I think getting older, your tolerance to that stuff changes. Maybe having children too. It’s like, “Fuck, this is pretty brutal.” But it’s also fun, so fuck it. [Laughs]

Jon left at this point as he was called back to set.

So, Alexa, in terms of Meg’s real life, she’s been promoted as well, so how’s that…

Alexa: Yeah, twice. She’s really fucking good at her job! [Laughs] We don’t talk about her work much in the show because I think that’s not where the comedy is, but yeah, Meg gets promoted, and turns out she is incredibly good at her job! And so much so that she finds it really easy, and there’s a couple of phone calls you see through this series. She works for a graphic design agency and I think it’s Episode Five mostly, where people will call her and within three seconds, she’ll have given them the answer and just be like, “Fucking hell, am I the only one around here that can run a design agency?” It’s mad to think she’s really good at her job, but it’s just not something we touch on too much in the show because she doesn’t care.

Is it taking away precious gaming time for her?

Alexa: Basically, yeah, and that becomes a huge problem for this series, because, not only has she got the promotion, which means she has to work more hours and travel a bit for work, at the same time, she’s got a boyfriend that needs time spent with on the day. So she gets to this point where she just does not understand how anybody is supposed to lead a normal, healthy life, She’s trying to fit in the game, the work, a boyfriend, sleeping, eating and all of this other stuff. It really confuses her. She really, really struggles to get to grips with it.

Has her diet improved at all since last season? Because she was eating some fairly gross things, wasn’t she?

Alexa: Yeah… no…

There was a memorable “beans” sequence in Season 1…

Alexa: There have been no beans this series so far, which is so nice. [laughs] But again, Episode One when the expansion comes out and it’s maybe not what Meg hoped or expected it to be, so Alison immediately jumps on that opportunity to change her. There is an episode where she starts drinking more water and going outside and eating healthier. But no. Luckily this series… Have I eaten much this series? Last series was awful. There was a whole afternoon last series where I had to eat white bread with so much butter on it. I felt so ill one afternoon…

Oh… Cheesestrings!! I’ve just had a horrific flashback! Meg’s been eating a lot of Cheesestrings! With the expansion pack for Kingdom Scrolls, the game sort of starts to work a bit more like ‘The Sims’, in that you need to do everything for your character. You need to bed, you need to wash them, to feed them, to do all of that. And so Meg fully devotes herself to that, but then has no time for herself, to the point where she just starts eating a mass of Cheesestrings while staring at Greta eating a really amazing dinner. Yeah, we’ve had a lot of Cheesestrings. We’ve had an awful afternoon once, where I just thought we’d be doing two angles on me this way, so I ate about five Cheesestrings really fast, and then did not feel well! [Laughs] I’m done with Cheesestrings! But no, she’s still not looking after herself very well.

Is Alison continuing to add nice touches to the flat? Is she getting Meg into home improvement at all?

Alexa: Not so much to getting Meg into it, but we’ve got new sofas this year! Basically, when we moved into the set on the first day it was still the old sofas, and then suddenly Jon and Jamie, our director, just walked in and were like, “This isn’t very good.” They wanted to change the living room. So now we’ve got different sofas and the wall’s a slightly different colour. Meg is a creature of habit, very much. I think Nicky’s exactly the same. But slowly, Allison is changing things. The poster’s gone, that poster on the wall that said Life is for living.

Do you think Alison a force for good or a force for evil?

Alexa: A force for good. I think, as an outsider, when you watch the show, Alison, especially in Series One, is a non-gamer’s way into the show… And it’s also hilarious when they just kind of bully her. It sounds terrible but… [Laughs] But basically, I think she wants them to be happy. I think she wants them to lead big, healthy, full lives.. and they are just incredibly against it. But this series is extremely interesting for Alison as a character. I’m sure you’ll hear more when you talk to Charlotte later, but we find out in this series that Alison’s massively flawed. Meg and Nicky might sit at home and play a game for a long time, but Alison’s a real dick sometimes, and that really comes out in this series. And it’s so nice to learn because they may be wasting their time doing one thing but Alison’s wasting her time with maybe something worse, and it’s like, well… She gets this boyfriend, and we find out very early on the boyfriend is a married man, and then for the rest of the series, she pursues that. So why is that any different? You’re in a car park with a man who’s snuck out his wife’s wedding ring so you can pretend to be his missus for 20 minutes, but that’s better than me sitting in my room for 20 minutes and just walking around in a circle on a game. It’s that thing, isn’t it? It’s very easy for people to tut and roll their eyes at gamers, but really we’re all wasting time in different ways, aren’t we? Who’s to say what’s healthy and what’s not?

Do the avatars look different at all with the update?

Alexa: No, exactly the same, which I love. I love them. What’s crazy is, at any point, Jon could turn around and say, “They’re playing a different game now.” Because that’s what gamers do. You either complete it or decide you don’t want to play any more. You play a different game. But Greta and Morwick, for Will and I, feel like so much a part of the show anyway. Maybe not so much for the viewers because it’s just Meg and Nicky and all that. But they look exactly the same, and they’re a real comfort blanket in that they’re just always there, and they kind of look like us, and we know what they are like, in a way. So I’m always terrified Jon’s gonna say, “No more Greta and Morwick.”

I did wonder if the second series was going to be a new game, so were you happy to be back on Kingdom Scrolls?

Alexa: Yes! Because obviously, at the end of series one they announced the expansion pack, but at the same time, Meg, that whole episode, is thinking about changing games, and so is Nicky. So when we got the script for this series, and we’re eight months later, it’s expansion pack day, and it’s still Greta and Morwick, I was very pleased. You just never know. If we do Series Three, Jon could just decide at any time. He could decide midway through the series, couldn’t he? It’s terrifying! [Laughs]

You could have a new game but recreating the characters in some way, cause I do that quite a lot.

Alexa: Yeah, they’d probably still always look something the same. Everyone does that, right? Everyone kind of wants their character to have the same vibe in every game, don’t they?

Have them in space or something.

Alexa: Oh my god, that would be so fucking weird! [Laughs]

And with that, Alexa was needed back on set!

Dead Pixels‘ Season 2 premieres Tuesday, 26th January 2021 at 10pm with a double-bill on E4. You can catch up with Season 1 on All4 right now.