Friends Like These: Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters

Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters discuss 'Bulletproof: South Africa', their two-decade long friendship and their wildest nights out

“It would be nice to say that we planned this new series, but that’s now how it really went…” laughs Ashley Walters when Noel Clarke asks him about the inspiration behind the duo’s new three-part TV special, Bulletproof: South Africa. “But this series is out of this world, man,” he continues. “It has been worth the wait, trust me.”

When filming for the second season of Sky One’s Bulletproof wrapped up in mid-2019, Walters and Clarke – the show’s stars and creators – were left with a predicament. Scheduling conflicts with Walters’ role in Netflix’s Top Boy meant that they were unable to plan a third full-length series, but the pair were keen to continue their acclaimed buddy-cop comedy drama, so they proposed a spin-off set in the bustling urban landscapes of Cape Town, South Africa.

“There’s a logistical reason and a character reason to why we did this,” Clarke explains of their decision to create Bulletproof: South Africa. “Our characters went through so much throughout the first two seasons of Bulletproof that they needed a holiday. But the logistical reason is that Ashley is working on two very big jobs, which shoot in between each other.”

Filming abroad meant that the close pals were able to explore their sun-soaked locale together, while finding the time and space to contemplate the development of the Bulletproof franchise. “It was bloody amazing!” says Walters of the shoot. “The sun, the people, the food… We were also blessed with an amazing cast, which made it all so much easier.”

“I otherwise would have popped my clogs without having ever gone to South Africa,” adds Clarke. “To be with one of my best friends out there… it was just jokes, man. We were laughing every day.”

The success of the trip also means that Bulletproof fans should be hopeful about more adventures with the duo. Clarke says: “We are always looking at new projects. Together, we achieve a lot more. I find myself on other sets where I’m just like, ‘This is not the same as Bulletproof. Where’s Ashley?!’”

Walters elaborates: “We both know that Bulletproof can’t last forever. But it would be nice to get a movie in, wouldn’t it?”

For the latest instalment in NME’s Friends Like These series, the actors spoke to each other about the story behind Bulletproof: South Africa, their two-decade long friendship and their wildest nights out. Watch the video in full above.

‘Bulletproof: South Africa’ airs at 9pm on Wednesday 20th January on Sky One and NOW TV

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