Mr Flibble Talks To... Sexy Senior
It's Princess Bonjella herself - but you can call her Beryl. One-time damsel in distress - and currently expectant mother - Alison Senior talks to Mr Flibble.
12 April, 2002
Alison Senior
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble noticed Alison's bulge immediately, and started to ask how it got there - a process Andrew thankfully halted. Instead, he asked how Alison STARTED ACTING?

I don't know - I haven't got a clue! My sister started going to a youth theatre, and a few months later I followed her. That's how it started, [at] the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. I'm an Essex girl.

After I left school I did a performing arts course, but I was so broke that I needed to get a job. So I walked around the West End asking for jobs at the stage doors - stage crew stuff. So I've done stage crew work at the Palace Theatre since 1988. I've had to stop at the moment because [indicates her bump]. Then I got into drama school.

What was your first acting job?

The first two were very close together. I did an episode of The Knock, and an episode of May to December. I can't remember which way around they were! Studio audience stuff is absolutely terrifying. It's just so scary. I've just done an episode of My Hero, and that was terrifying as well. I was talking to the regulars, to Emily Joyce, who said it never gets any better! She's the same every week. No wonder she's so tiny! (Laughs)

Mr Flibble quite understands. When he began acting his was six foot four. How did you get the part of Beryl Bonjella on RED DWARF?

I just got a call from my agent and went out to Shepperton. I didn't meet the director - just the casting director, Linda Glover. She videoed me sitting there and saying [my lines]. Not quite the same [as the real thing]!

So tell us about the real thing...

That was at RAF Northolt. It was a laugh. I always get so nervous - and when I arrived, I found my friend, Becky Hewitt, was second AD [Assistant Director]. Things like that can be so daunting - especially when you come in and the cast is all fully established, they all know each other. You're coming in and you don't know anyone. So it was nice to see a familiar face. Funnily enough she's pregnant as well! She's six weeks ahead of me now. We're gonna stake out Mothercare next week. (Laughs)

They had a camera on this big crane thing, and Ed would be sitting there as it was swooping down. You think, "Oh my God, there's so much money being spent on this. If I cock it up...!"

How did you enjoy working with Chris Barrie...

Because it was a small part, I didn't get to interact with anyone except for Chris.

He was absolutely lovely - and I was absolutely terrified. He helped settle my nerves, because he was just so normal, so chatty. That made things easier. Just nice - a really nice bloke.

I was so scared. And I think, as a result of that, the performance I gave was not very good. I don't think anybody ever is happy when they see it back. You just think, "Oh, no, I'm awful." I've got it on video - but I just skip the bit that I'm in.

The "damsel in distress" bit.

At the time, it didn't feel like me. I don't feel like a damsel in distress - at the minute I feel like a potato stuffed into a sock! (Laughs) I think I resembled one then. I was bigger then than I am now... except for the bump.

Mr Flibble gets nervous working with SPECIAL EFFECTS. He's become convinced that the FX team is trying to blow him up - mostly because they keep sending threats on headed notepaper. How did you find working with sparks and chains?

That's another thing. I'd worked with another friend of mine, Natalie Wragg, and her dad was there - Peter Wragg, the special effects man. That was really weird, because two weeks before I'd been around his house having a barbecue. "Oh, it's Nat's dad!" (Laughs) "It's my friend's dad, so that's all right. I'm safe."

Were they real, heavy metal chains?

Yeah. I could be wrong, but I think it was Peter who put them on. He put the little explosions on, those little sparks. I wasn't [stood there] that long. These special effects guys are so slick at what they're doing. Just set it up, do it. If you have to do it again, they're just [snaps fingers].

Then you got to clamber onto the back of Barrie's bike...

Yeah, that was great! (Laughs) I loved that. We were on the back of a van thing, pulling us along. That was such a laugh. I was really jealous, because afterwards the stunt double had to do that flying thing. They put this spongy, mannequin model on the back, and they put my dress on it, and a wig. I wanted to do that! (Laughs) They don't let you do it.

Despite being forced to wear a penguin suit every time he's on-set, Mr Flibble then asked about Alison's COSTUME...

They put my in another [outfit] first, this other red dress with a big split up the side. I thought, "I'm going to get on the bike and everybody's going to see my big old chumbly legs." (Laughs). We took photos to show the director, Ed Bye, of me in this dress - and I thought, "I'm not going to sell this well", so in the Polaroid I looked really grumpy. Then when I put on the dress I liked, I was all glamorous. "Ooh, I like this one!" (Laughs) The one I wore was by far the nicest.

What about hair and make up?

How much red lippy? I looked like a right old tart! (Laughs) It was lovely - it's so great having your make up done. You sit there and they just slap it on, make you look nice. In your head you have an image of what you are, what you're like, and I am not a Bond girl. It's not what I am.

A couple of years ago I did this Alan Aykbourn play, playing a model. I don't look like a model, and it feels very uncomfortable to do something like that. You automatically think that the people out there are thinking, "Playing a model? Look at her! Who does she think she is?" (Laughs)

Tell us about your part in Lee Evans's sitcom, SO WHAT NOW?

We got a rough outline of the script, but when you go into rehearsals [Lee Evans] makes a lot of it up as he goes along. He's mad! It was a great time. We rehearsed for a week before filming it, and some of it was on location - in a lap dancing club in Acton. When you're a woman in that sort of place, you just feel insecure. They'd used the girls from the club as extras. Of course, the crew were loving it. (Laughs)

The part was me and my partner in crime - played my Michelle Joseph - were picking up blokes and fleecing them. Picking out targets to rob. We ended up going to a hotel room with Lee and Steve O'Donnell, playing this raunchy game and blindfolding them... and nicking all their stuff and legging it!

Finally, you also famously appeared in EASTENDERS - as Trevor's 'other woman'...

I really enjoyed Eastenders. It was only a few episodes. The scenes I had were with Kacey Ainsworth, and Alex Ferris, who played Trevor. They were so nice to me. Kacey is such an unassuming person. She's really chatty, and just made you feel like you should be there. I was Trevor's girlfriend, Donna, [who] didn't know he was married.

I was going to go back and do some more - but I can't because of the bump. It would have been lovely, but she was pregnant last time! So I think they're going to recast it. But such is life... and I'm getting a baby out of it. (Laughs)

I've got one more little job - a film called Ashes and Sand, with Nick Moran. It's about a gang of girls on the rampage, an evil bunch. Nick plays a cop. I'm 'Angry Young Mum Shouting at Paedophile'. I'll tell you what, there's a bit of swearing. I hope I don't do many takes, otherwise this baby's gonna come out with Tourette's Syndrome. (Laughs)

Mr Flibble enjoyed talking to Alison Senior, and her bump, and now that it's over... Mr Flibble is very cross.