His comic skills have taken him to the dizzy heights of television as co-star of late-night Channel 4 sitcom Tottenham 2, which ended a six-week run last Saturday. But, like all good comedians, the humour is grounded in real life. Bacchus works with London Underground – an organisation with an understandably strict no-alcohol policy – and he is clear that construction is where his future lies.
Last autumn, he managed to combine both, taking three weeks' leave to rehearse and film the six episodes. Now back at the Jubilee Line, where his employer Northcroft is contracted to London Underground, Bacchus has found that his colleagues "are all really supportive. They'd all come in on Monday mornings talking about the programme." Perhaps they needed some light relief. Although not working directly on the Jubilee Line Extension, the team's responsibilities for packaging and letting maintenance contracts along the whole of the line are still subject to intense deadline pressure. "When you walk on to someone else's floor, it's like they're all working in slow-motion," says Bacchus. Tottenham 2 belongs to Channel 4's tradition of love-it-or-loathe-it, post-pub weekend entertainment, and Bacchus, 33, recognises that it was never likely to become a mainstream hit. "A lot of people won't like it. It's young people's stuff – at least I hope it's not just shift workers and nursing mums who are watching," he laughs.
Written by Bacchus' cousin, playwright Ashmede Sohoye, it revolves around two aimless, jobless loafers hanging out in Mr Lee's café in Tottenham, north London. "They can't get it together in the real world. They just exist – and even that's only due to their mums." Jaz and Ronnie – Bacchus and Sohoye respectively – spend their days spouting home-grown theories on the art of catching a bus or using a mobile phone. But Bacchus the dedicated Northcroft QS denies any dramatic identification between himself and his character. "I am known to pontificate a bit, but the difference is I know I'm pontificating, and the guy on screen believes it." And although he lives in Tottenham, he left his mum's long ago. The cousins made their TV debut four years ago with live improvisation slots on a late- night ITV show. Bacchus had neither a stage-school childhood nor acting ambitions. He studied surveying at South Bank University and specialised in rail and claims work in London and Hong Kong before joining Northcroft four years ago. It was Sohoye who suggested he would be a TV natural. Since finishing his schedule of back-to-back 15-hour days, Bacchus has clearly given some thought to the similarities between TV and construction. The need for teamwork and the pressure of logistics in TV is something any construction manager would recognise.
I am known to pontificate a bit, but the difference is I know I’m pontificating, and the guy on screen believes it
The low-budget comedy with a cast of five required a crew of 16 and a real café and flat. Bacchus was impressed by the production team's meticulous forward planning. Every time there was a change of location, a detailed map would be circulated along with step-by-step written instructions on how to get there. He found no "them and us" feeling between the people in front of and behind the camera.
"Everyone makes you feel it's a real team effort. And there are so many re-takes for so many reasons that you don't get that guilty feeling when you get it wrong. It's like construction – you've all got to pull together." Bacchus says that if the opportunity arose again, he would love to return to the bright lights. But, on the whole, he sees Tottenham 2 as an interlude rather than the start of a new career, and values the satisfaction of a completed construction project more highly than a once-aired, soon-forgotten TV show.