What’s going on with the Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em play?
It’s a live stage version of Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em — this is the first time it’s been done on stage. Sometimes when people do old sitcoms on stage they just do a few old episodes but this is a brand new production with a brand new script that takes Frank Spencer into a whole new realm.
He’s trying to get on a talent show but it’s set in 1973, so he’s still got his flares and the tank top.
Were you a fan of the show originally?
Everyone was — at its height it was getting about 30 million viewers. I was a huge fan, so to be offered this was a godsend. When Michael Crawford played the role there was a lot of him in it so I’ve decided to do my own interpretation rather than an impersonation of him.
Is there much slapstick in it?
There are some stunts and I’ve been working with a stunt coordinator. We’re doing eight shows a week for six months so there’s a lot of potential for me to break my arm or knock myself out. Everyone likes watching someone fall over so come along for that and see what happens.
You’ve written Deadknobs And Doomsticks, a book of short horror stories — why’s that?
I like to do unexpected things. I don’t like to be put in a box where everyone expects me to be that divvy squeaky-voiced bloke. I’ve been doing an Open University degree and did a module on creative writing and wrote some short stories for my coursework. I sent them to an author friend to get his opinion, who sent them to his publisher without telling me. He phoned and said if I could do ten more he’d publish them. He knows I paint so he asked me to illustrate it as well.
Why did you do horror stories?
I love the genre — books, plays, films. I love being scared. I get nervous before I go on stage but I use that energy in a positive way. I like Stephen King. James Herbert, who I was friends with, encouraged me to write horror stories but I didn’t until after he passed away. And I love all Edgar Allan Poe’s stuff.
How did you know James Herbert?
I did a charity night in London and saw him there. He came over to me and said he was a fan of my comedy. I couldn’t believe it. I said I was a big fan of his books. Then we stayed in touch. We got on really well. He was a lovely man.
Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
When I was 13 I was in the Scouts. We did a big jumble sale and there was a Ouija board in there. Me and my mate Kevin had a go with it in the church hall and contacted someone called Malcolm who worked on the bins. I don’t think it was real.
Did Malcolm want anything sinister?
No, he was a bin man called Malcolm from Tilbury in Essex. That’s as far as we got. It wasn’t like Insidious.
Dancing On Ice is back. Would you do it a third time?
I’d do anything that scares me — I love it. What I loved the most about that was doing the tour and performing in front of 15,000 a night. Christopher Dean’s mum came up to me and said, ‘My favourite routine is you — because you’re so bad.’ I was never going to be in the Olympics but I learned how to skate, how to go backwards and how to hold someone over my head. It might not have had much dignity to it but I could do it.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Working in Smithfield meat market. I had to lug dead cows out of lorries into the boning room all day. It did my back in but you got a chicken at the end of the week and a lump of beef.
Why are you doing a geology degree?
I didn’t pass any exams at school but I got a pilot’s licence ten years ago, which showed me I could learn because I had to pass seven exams for it. I realised my own mortality so I thought that instead of sitting and watching telly I’d do something useful. I chose geology because when I was kid my dad used to take me to Grays beach in Essex. He’d go to the pub and I’d walk on the beach and find bits of rock and crystals that interested me, and it just stayed with me. Andrew Williams
Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em is on nationwide tour until July 28, somemothersdoaveem.com