Graham Kibble-White meets IT girl Katherine Parkinson...

Amid much recent media speculation about the death of the sitcom comes The IT Crowd.

Filmed in front of a studio audience in a traditional three-walled set and sporting an array of winningly daft gags, it's a world away from the current trend for documentary-style comedies delving into the darker side of human nature.

From the pen of Graham Linehan, who co-created Black Books and Father Ted, it tells the tale of Roy (Chris O'Dowd), Moss (Richard Ayoade) and manager Jen (Katherine Parkinson) - the IT department of Reynholm Industries.

While their social betters work upstairs in fantastic surroundings, the trio are cut off in a horrible dark basement underneath it all, dreaming of the day they'll gain the acceptance of their glamorous peers.

"It was a lot of fun," grins 28-year-old Katherine, referring to the show's eight-week production process. "It was an intensive period, but great because we got into a good rhythm.

"We'd rehearse in the week and then go to Teddington on the Friday to shoot it in front of a studio audience."

For someone used to working unsociable hours in the theatre, the Monday to Friday arrangement proved extremely appealing.

"Just thinking back now, it was so satisfying," she says. "You'd get to the end of the week, have the gratification of doing the performance and then have the weekend to relax.

"It was a good way to work and it made me sort of envy most of the working population who do that all year round. I don't think that'll happen in my next job."

Despite that, there was one factor above all others which attracted Katherine to the project.

"I just thought the scripts were so funny," she reveals. "I know Graham has a reputation in this field and so does the producer Ash Atalla (best known for producing The Office), but even if I hadn't been aware of all that, I would have wanted to do it anyway.

"It could have been written by a tramp for all I cared," she laughs, "and I would have still taken the job. The scripts just read so well."

Because of this, she bashfully claims: "If the show fails, we're all going to blame our own performances.

"I just hope we've done it justice. If we have, then it'll be a great success."

Despite her admiration for the writing, during the rehearsal period the cast did feel free to suggest script changes as they went along.

"With someone like Graham, you've got a writer who has that really rare quality of being quite willing to take things out if he, or someone else, doesn't think they're working. And, in every case, he was able to come up with something that's as good or even better as a replacement in an instant.

"I really admired him for making those alterations. He was working hard throughout the week, because the whole thing was changing a lot.

Sometimes things that work on the page just don't when you actually come to perform them."

With things shifting so much, Katherine confesses that she would get slightly worried as Friday approached and elements of the script still seemed to be up in the air. However, because of the cast's involvement in the process, it wasn't hard to learn their lines.

"I think we only did it like this because, as actors, Richard, Chris and I are all used to learning things quickly," she explains.

"I'm sure some people would find it all quite worrying, particularly if they were doing a play and it was a very big emotional performance. In that instance, changing things just wouldn't be on.

"But this was different. We were essentially dealing with jokes and so I think we were allowed to make alterations for the benefit of the show."

Although most viewers will know Katherine from her appearance in Doc Martin as Pauline Lamb, she has enjoyed an extensive career on the stage. Despite the superficial similarities, she reckons performing a TV show in front of an audience is a completely different experience to treading the boards.

"People do say it's similar," she says, "however it felt to me just like shooting normal TV, but with a lot of people watching. Because you have this big queue of cameras between you and the audience, you don't get that feeling you do in the theatre where you're holding everyone's attention.

"It was a really interesting experience, though. And it does help to have a crowd, because it gives you a sense of occasion which you have to rise to."

A recurring theme in the show is Katherine's character's dissatisfaction with the job she's doing. It's something the actress can relate to.

"I read Classics at Oxford and, not to denigrate my degree, I was very fraudulent in doing that. A lot of people lived and breathed the subject, whereas I just thought it was a good way to get a degree.

"After university I had a year out where I was a waitress at a high-powered American-themed diner. They actually made me do an audition to get the job. Obviously, I'm not a particularly shy person, but I became one there. In fact, I was quickly demoted and they kept me in the kitchen all the time."

As for where work will take her next, it's back to the theatre for a new dramatic production.

"I don't just consider myself a comedy actress," she says. "I mean, I can do it, but then, I think any actor should be able to. In fact, you should be able to do a bit of everything. I would be upset if I ended up being pigeon-holed in one genre."

As for whether or not the old cliche about comedy being harder than drama is true, Katherine bursts into laughter.

"I don't know!" she giggles. "I don't know if what I'm doing in The IT Crowd is successful comedy acting!"

The reviews, it seems, will tell her that.

"I feel I'm doing my work for the public," she says, "and if they don't like it, I should stop. So, I'll certainly be keeping my ear to the ground."

* The IT Crowd is on Channel 4 from Friday February 3 ..SUPL: