Mr Flibble Talks To... All Dressed Up
Chloë Annett took over the role of Kochanski when the character became a permanent fixture in series VII. While she soon ditched the PVC trousers, the character's neuroses continued. Aspects of her character that Chloë would like to see more of...
22 December, 2000
Chloë Annett
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble waved coquettishly at Chloë. Of course, being a penguin, this looked more like 'flapping'. In an embarrassed, 'can-you-ask-her-out-for-me?' way, he whispered his first question to Andrew: Is it true that your casting as Kochanski came about because Doug saw your AUDITION TAPE for another show - The 10%ers?

That was unbelievable the way that happened. I had auditioned for The 10%ers a year earlier, and I had been living in the States. I came back from the States and got a call saying, 'Do you want to go up for this programme, Red Dwarf?' - which I knew about, obviously. They faxed me these bits of script - I could barely read them!

I turned up to this audition - reading, probably, rather poorly. I was very excited, very enthusiastic about it - and next day I got it! Apparently, they'd been looking for ages. I remember chatting to Ed, and laughing. I was being very silly and we were giggling a lot. It's nice to know I take these auditions very seriously! (Laughs)

Had you been watching the show already?

Oh, yeah. It was kind of daunting. I remember coming up for my read-through on the train shitting myself. Really excited but really, really nervous. I met Doug and Ed, and they were very friendly, very warm and welcoming - but I'd never met the [cast] guys, and I could see them really hating me. They didn't give me a hard time, but it was a new girl coming in - a girl coming in! But once the ice was broken they were great.

Mr Flibble licked the envelope on a Valentine's card marked 'CA' and asked if Chloë remembered her FIRST EVER RED DWARF SCENE?

Yeah, I can remember my first... she says, having completely forgotten it. I'm just a compulsive liar, really, aren't I! (Laughs) It was definitely Ouroboros. I think it was probably getting shot in the leg. They did lots of action stuff to get me warmed up.

I think it was scenes with Craig in Ouroboros. I was still trying to be very serious about the whole thing - doing serious acting. Very good serious acting, I have to say! (Laughs) Craig was great, because he's a very good actor- we'd sort of feed off each other.

And then there's the PVC TROUSERS...

Oh, Christ! It was awful! I've said this so many times, but it was a really hot summer - and this f-ing PVC! It was supposed to be very tight, and by the end of the day it had stretched! (Laughs) So you took it off and saw the imprint of my bum! It had gone in the bum, and it had gone in the knees! (Laughs) It was so unattractive...

There was one scene shot of me that I've seen - we're walking away from camera, and it's just this tomato bottom! (Laughs)

Mr Flibble informed Chloë, via Andrew, that she has a lovely bottom. Andrew got his face slapped. From a distance away, they reminded Chloë that she once suggested in an interview that Kochanski has a crush on Hollister...

I wish they never wrote these things down! Thinking about it again, yeah - because he is vaguely sensible. Vaguely. But he's in a position of authority and... she must be a little bit desperate. Please understand! Everyone does seem completely incompetent. But I think, where she is, she'd like that.

I know Mac McDonald was extremely keen to explore that possibility...

I bet he was! (Laughs)

So you see Kochanski as ever-so-slightly FRUSTRATED by this point?

Yeah! In series VII she was wooed by Lister, and I think she liked it. She did entertain the thought of maybe getting back with him - for a split second. Because he was so romantic, and she liked that. She probably would like to have a boyfriend.

And at some point she probably would like to have a baby. Her biological clock is ticking - loudly, by now. The question is who? What are her choices? Her options aren't great. I think they should have that dilemma. That she's going to want to have a baby - who's going to be the father? And then maybe she does get pregnant and nobody knows whose it is! Mac, don't get too excited! (Laughs)

Be careful what you wish for - Craig used to ask for snogs and ended up kissing giant bugs, corpses and Chris Barrie!

I saw Craig recently. We were talking, and he said, 'You know - I think we should do a sexy photo-shoot! I think we should have more sex! I think it should open with a sex scene, a hardcore sex scene - Kochanski and Lister!' I was like, 'Craig... In your frigging dreams, mate!' He was deadly serious about it.

Mr Flibble produced a box of chocolates. Chloë said she was on a diet. Andrew ate the coffee creme. You had two SF projects go out at much the same time - Crime Traveller and Red Dwarf. Were you disappointed that CRIME TRAVELLER didn't continue?

Yeah, I really was. It was great, and I get lots of letters from people saying how sad they are that it hasn't gone ahead. It was good family viewing. It wasn't hardcore science fiction, it was just a bit of fun.

I would have liked to have been able to wear a coat, because we weren't allowed to wear any coats or anything. I remember one time it was snowing, Michael [French] and I were ill an awful lot and we had to re-do a scene because apart from the fact that we were shaking, we had smoke coming out of our mouths!

I could see, as Michael was talking to me, that the snow was starting to harden on his eyebrows! (Laughs) Needless to say I started giggling and we had to stop it. There's one brilliant out-take of us running down the road and them him falling over - and me falling on top of him! It was the ice, it was so cold.

Mr Flibble offered Chloë a bunch of flowers - bringing on her hay-fever. Andrew asked about her CV - which lists HORSE-RIDING AND CONTEMPORARY DANCE...

Yeah, I haven't done contemporary dance for a while, but I was going to be a dancer... as well as a painter. The contemporary helped me with my ballet - as opposed to the other way around. Contemporary is a mixture of jazz and ballet.

I gave that up when I was 17, which is a shame, but when I started doing point work it was really tough on my ankles. I've got very tiny ankles. It was great fun though, I loved it. Such discipline.

The Cat's done a lot of dance sequences - would you like to do one with him?

I haven't done it for so long. I remember trying once with Danny - but he does a lot of jazz, a lot of tap, which I can't do. I'm hopeless at tap. Yeah, that would be fun. Have a little dance - that would be really fun.

And horse-riding, too. So you'd be fine on Trumper the pony...

Trumper the pony! I love Trumper, bless him. Doug made that up completely, he's just managed to pick out bits of my personality! And I do like opera. I don't know where he got that from, it was amazing that he knew these things about me that are absolutely true.

Duct Soup - especially that 'mad hair' scene - seemed to be the episode that contains most of the references to Kochanski's past. The brother, the pony...

That was a great script. I loved that. It gave me a whole chunk to do. It's much easier to work on a whole scene like that, which was kind of like a two-hander, talking about my past and me. It was a great thing to do, to get your teeth into something like that as opposed to just bits. It really made me familiar with the character.

Hopefully in the film we'll do more of that kind of thing. I like the fact that she still had the neuroses there. I don't want to lose [those]. She isn't funny like the other boys - coming out with one-liners. Her circumstances are funny, her neuroses are funny, her vulnerability is funny. That's what I want to play. I don't want her to be too smart-arse - people don't warm to that. I liked her being vulnerable.

Mr Flibble produced two tickets to Paris for the weekend. Chloë couldn't help but accept. What have you got COMING UP?

I've just done Kiss Me Kate with Caroline Quentin, which is a live studio audience again. Red Dwarf does work with an audience, definitely. I remember the first scene I did in front of a live studio audience very clearly - because I was very (makes scared noise)! And then it was fine. But ever since I've done lots of studio audience things, and I just love it. It was good.

I've also got a film coming out in January [Pasty Faces] from Metrodome, who did Human Traffic (1999) - it's not all druggie, but it's a young, energetic film. It's about four Scottish guys who go to Las Vegas. I steal men's wallets in casinos, hold them at gunpoint - in black leather. Any time anybody says anything to me I've got this big gun! It's hilarious, it's very funny. A bit of a crazy nutter - but not too crazy. Misunderstood.

Chloë picked up the Paris tickets, explaining that she would be vacationing with her husband. As Mr Flibble wept, Andrew asked: Did you enjoy playing with the gun?

Oh, everybody did! We were all terrible! (Laughs) It was like Red Dwarf with the props. 'I'll just take that... Chloë, I'll just take that...' (Whines) 'No, I want to play with the gun...'

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