Set at a fictional Premier League club, The First Team is a brilliant new BBC Two sitcom. Stars Shaquille Ali-Yebuah, Jack McMullen and Jake Short take Georgia Humphreys behind the scenes.

Rarely a week goes by without a story in the papers about the private lives of footballers.

So, there's no denying the off-the-pitch misadventures of three young players makes for amusing telly.

The First Team, airing on BBC Two, explores the friendship between three rising talents in the sport - Mattie, Jack and Benji - and gives an insight into aspects of footballers' lifestyles; women, money and social media.

Then there are the issues the trio face with their mercurial Italian manager Cesare, terrifying team hard-man Petey, and eccentric chairman Mark Crane.

Here, stars Shaquille Ali-Yebuah, Jack McMullen and Jake Short tell us everything we need to know.


Indiana native Short, 22, is best known for comedy series on the Disney Channel.

In The First Team, he plays Matty, who he found very relatable - especially as an American heading to Britain to work.

"I was in Barcelona, I flew out for this character," says the chirpy star.

"I think that feeling of imposter syndrome, wanting to know why he's there right off the bat, is just sort of relatable.

"But he eventually figures it out, through the help of two veterans on the team."


Ali-Yebuah, 24, describes Benji as "very confident".

"He's all about the lifestyle; he loves football but he also enjoys everything that comes with it," notes the actor, who has also appeared in films Solo: A Star Wars Story, iBoy and Social Suicide.

"So, he's trying to find his way into the first team, and trying to be bigger than football himself."

Taking on the role of 21-year-old Jack Turner, who is also just breaking through into the first team, is Waterloo Road star Jack McMullen, 29.

"He's the sort of person who, because of his talent, he's never had to learn to do anything for himself, so he's pretty useless, he can't decorate his house, he can't cook a meal, he can't wash his own clothes," explains the Liverpudlian.

"In an ideal world he'd like to live a normal life, but ironically that wouldn't be possible.

"He's quite shy, he's in denial about being shy and he's got a couple of demons as well."


This is the first series award-winning duo Iain Morris and Damon Beesley have penned together since their massive success with Channel 4's The Inbetweeners.

The sitcom, about four friends and their antics during their final years of school, ran for three series between 2008 and 2010 (two hit films following the characters on holidays abroad came after that too).

Asked if they were fans of the show Ali-Yebuah says: "No matter what background, where you come from, Inbetweeners, it's like a gem.

"Everyone has watched more than a few episodes, or watched the movies, so coming on to this project you feel more safe, in a sense, in the decision making, and trusting the process of everything that's being done, because they've done it before, and it was a hit, it was great."

"I feel like Iain and Damon have got a very distinct voice," adds McMullen, noting that the similarity between The First Team and The Inbetweeners is they are both set in an environment where people are forced to be together.

"You can't choose your peers. So, the comedy that can come from who you forge friendships with, when you haven't got a choice, that was an interesting aspect for me."


The UK public tends to have quite strong opinions about footballers and their behaviour.

So, does the cast think their characters will be what viewers expect?

"I know that Iain and Damon did a lot of research at premier league clubs," reveals McMullen, who is a Liverpool fan himself.

"Some stories and some traits are based on real people. So, I don't know if that will make them more relatable or people won't be able to believe it but, believe it - a lot of this stuff is real."

There are a few subjects the series touches on which Ali-Yebuah thinks some footballers will be glad to see being spoken about.

"There's a lot of truth in it but, because it's with humour, it's not as harsh.

"But there are some things that football fans will take a lot from as well...

"All the fans see (in real life) is on the pitch and then the interviews and what they see in newspapers, so for us to show life off-pitch and what we get up to in our personal life, they'll realise that footballers are humans just like they are."


There could have been an element of pressure knowing that the show was being made by people who have had a hit comedy before.

But McMullen suggests a week of rehearsals helped with that.

"We managed to find our dynamic and there were bits that genuinely we found funny, so that's one of the most important things, and you obviously fear (that not happening).

"But by the time we started shooting we were relaxed, and it was just a nice atmosphere."

"Iain and Damon are naturally very funny people, they brought their own humour as well, and kept it light."

"That first week I was a little bit nervous," confides Short.

"I think once we'd met everyone and everyone started rehearsing together it was a lot easier for me to feel comfortable.

"Everyone's extremely, extremely funny, and I learned a lot about British comedy."

The First Team starts on BBC Two on Thursday May 28, with the full box set available on BBC iPlayer following transmission of the first episode.