Mr Flibble Talks To... Flibble Therapy
Already a familiar face in British comedy, he became psychiatrist Dr Lucas McClaren in series VIII of Red Dwarf. With his chair screwed tightly to the floor, and his neuroses on stand-by, Mr Flibble caught up with Andy Taylor.
8 June, 2001
Andy Taylor
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble sites his reviews for 'Much Ado About Nothing' as his career highpoint. How would you summarise your EARLY CAREER?

I've only ever had two good reviews in my entire life. I've once been "a smashing Tybalt" and "a very fine T-Rex" - I once played a Tyrannosaurs Rex in a show. I really got the fat-arse T-Rex wobble off to a tee.

One of your early credits was for multiple appearances in KYTV...

That's the kind of thing I did - nice, small parts in other people's comedy shows. I do a lot of that. Do a lot of Harry Enfield - who I went to school with! I didn't realise it until I saw a school photo of 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead' in which I played Prompt Man One. And [Harry] was there playing the Player King! I'm pretty sure I nearly had a fight with him, but I may be confusing him with someone else. I've never asked him in case it wasn't somebody else and it spoils a somewhat lucrative relationship! (Laughs)

Have you deliberately chosen to do COMEDY?

It's a deliberate choice in that anything I do is for the money and that's what comes my way! (Laughs) There has never been a career plan; I've never turned a job down - and it shows, because there is some stuff I've done that makes me shudder to think about. I suppose it's easier for me to do comedy.

Having said that, doing RED DWARF was really nerve-wracking. You do it in front of an audience, and I've done a few like that with a cast af regular, well-loved characters. "Chris Barrie - there's old Chris! Craig Charles - he's lovely! Andy who?" You do these scenes, and if Robert Llewellyn makes a mistake, he goes (Kryten voice) "Oh, bollocks!" and everybody laughs. Oh, hysterical. If I make a mistake, it's, "Christ, this is really dragging on. We want to get down the pub, I wish this non-entity would get on with it." (Laughs)

It does go better than you imagine, but you come away sweating a lot, with a very hot collar, feeling, "Ooh, I could have done that better." You can't relax - which is a shame, because I don't remember much about those scenes. I do remember when I read it that it was quite amusing, the psychiatrist; quite funny.

Mr Flibble once wore a gingham bonnet, Andrew once wore a schoolboy uniform, but was that your first time in stockings and suspenders?

It's my first time on television in stockings. Obviously at home I like to fix myself a stiff drink and just stride around in my wife's lingerie. I'm particularly keen on teddy suits, they're very nice, and small white panties. In fact I'd rather we'd had the white panties, but I don't think it would have carried quite as well. To be honest with you, Andrew, I feel very relaxed and... calm, when I'm wearing women's underwear.

Would you like to come back to the show?

Obviously I've told my agent to listen out for the Red Dwarf people. Obviously that psychiatrist may become the sixth character in the series. (Laughs) Hasn't happened so far, but I live in hope. I'm very positive. It'll happen. Or not.

You also appeared in Grant Naylor's 'other' sit-com...

I did THE 10%ERS, played a doctor in that. I've made a career out of middle-class doctor characters. The Clive Francis character had had a heart attack, I'm telling he's got to calm down and he won't. Clive Francis is very, very funny. It's another scene I've never seen.

I've not seen the Red Dwarf thing. I missed it, and I keep missing it when it's on. It's not deliberate, it's purely accidental. It it's on, I'll go, "Ooh, I'll watch that. Ohh, I'm in it this week! I'm being funny. Come on everyone, come and watch me be funny." (Laughs) I plead children. I've got children, so you never get time to watch anything.

Mr Flibble usually employs a double from London Zoo for dangerous scenes. Did Kryten actually hit your hand?

No he didn't, it's all well rehearsed. (Actor's voice) Because the one thing about this bunch is they're terribly professional. They don't allow anything... I mean, you do your own stunts, obviously. If I have to fall over, I fall over myself. But the thing is rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed at must be once. (Laughs)

You also did Drop the Dead Donkey...

Another programme I didn't watch! (Laughs) That's another good show that I've been in, and would have liked to have been in more. I was the producer of a radio ad - which was rather apposite, because when I worked for Talkback for Mel and Griff they had a radio production company and I used to write and produce radio ads for them. I throw that in there... If you could just mention that Andy Taylor has experience in radio production. (Laughs) Not just writing and performing, but 'creating' as it were...

Moving on to the RED DWARF - THE MOVIE...

I'm afraid I cannot say anything about that, I'm signed up to the eyeballs! (Laughs)

You're playing some of the additional parts across from the main cast...

Honing the script. Carving out a seminal piece of comedy that is going to kick British cinema back into the 2001's. It's quite normal, really, that kind of 'workshopping'. [It] features a lot in actors' lives. It seems to be a favoured style, especially for people like Doug who obviously do want to make it a seminal piece of comedy and will work very hard to make sure that it is.

I can't see how he can fail, frankly. It's popular already, it's still got the same cast - and from what I've seen of what they're doing it's still doing what it does best, which is be funny. And inventive-funny as well. I want to see it made for the same reason George Harrison wanted to see Life of Brian made, because I want to see what it looks like. In it or out of it.

What do you have coming up?

What day is it? (Laughs) Every job I get comes up two days before I do it. That's the way I live my life.

Do you at least learn lines quickly?

I don't have much trouble with that when I'm relaxed and happy - but, like I said, with the Red Dwarf thing I put myself under so much pressure to be 'liked' as much as the regular cast by the audience that it can interfere.

Mr Flibble enjoyed talking to Andy Taylor, and now that it's over... Mr Flibble is very cross.