Mr Flibble Talks To... Mr Flibble Goes Large
In the depths of Shepperton, Red Dwarf TV director Ed Bye dropped into the Grant Naylor production office to discuss the making of his debut movie - Kevin and Perry Go Large - with the galaxy's most famous penguin. Right hand provided by Andrew.
20 November, 2000
Ed Bye
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble has heard that there's a certain SNOBBERY in the industry from film people towards TV people. Did you find that when working on Kevin & Perry Go Large?

Yeah, I did get a bit of that. Quite a lot of that, to be honest. Not really from the crews, because a lot of people on the film crew I'd worked with in TV areas. The people who actually make the thing know that it's kind of similar - if you make a film for TV it's not that different from making a film for film, except that you're dealing with a slightly broader format. A chance to do more, I suppose.

Certainly from the production end of it there was a lot of nerves about me not having made a film before. But actually, when you analyse it, the people who are the most worried in that respect are the people who seem to have the least knowledge, and so they wouldn't know that TV and film are not that vastly different.

Did you adjust your style, at all? The way you worked?

Yeah, I was quite well behaved and listened and did a lot of nodding and stuff. And there was some technical stuff that I didn't know because it specifically applies to film. It's quite quick to pick up, and in the months we got into it I sort of reverted to what I thought instinctively was the right way to do things, but it was slightly intimidating to start with, where you did begin to think, "Oh Christ, maybe I don't know anything about this," and then forgetting that you've been doing twenty years of this stuff!

Had you worked with HARRY ENFIELD before?

I'd not worked with him on his TV series, but he'd been in some stuff that I'd done. He'd been in comedy festivals that I'd been producing or directing, and also he appeared in some sit-coms that I did - Girls on Top, and he did a pilot that I was on. So we knew each other, but never really worked intensely together on a long-term thing.

You always seem to work quite closely with the cast - you did with Rick Mayall and Adrian Edmondson on Bottom - from the script stage.

I actually, to be honest with you, work closely with the writers. Kevin & Perry was co-written by Harry. The same thing with Bottom - they [Mayall & Edmondson] wrote it, so you work very closely with them. And to a certain degree it's the same thing with Red Dwarf, where I work closely with Doug [Naylor].

What's good about that is that there's no better way to find out what the genesis of the original idea or the interpretation of something is than by consulting the writer. And if they're writer-performers then they always have an eye on the end product; they're always concerned about the way it's going to come out. It's very useful to use that - it would be foolish to ignore that concern.

The Detectives was single camera - how do you find the difference between multiple camera video, single camera for TV and single camera for a movie?

I started TV work doing MULTI-CAMERA shows - and, to be honest, once you've got that, then the single camera work is less complicated to do; you have only one camera to worry about instead of five or six.

Inevitably, when you've got one camera, then you can focus on what's happening in front of the camera much more - because obviously when you have audience shows you've got to have multi-cameras to get the laughter as it happens. Things have got to move along and you need lots of cameras just to cover the action.

The Detectives was a film series, and I became aware that I'd done a lot of single camera [video] work, but I hadn't done a film series, hadn't really worked with film crews. I'd worked with film crews who were doing inserts for things, but I hadn't done a series on film with film people (as opposed to video people). So I was quite keen to make the jump and do a comedy series on film and learn about film, learn about the techniques.

Mr Flibble has seen a lot of unsuccessful films based on TV series - Porridge, Dad's Army, Rising Damp, Steptoe & Son - and was worried about Kevin & Perry because it was based on just a recurring sketch...

I guess the mistake is that you get a successful TV sit-com and you just make it 'a big one,' and put in a ridiculously fantastic plot because it's 'a big one.' And that may not actually be the right way to go.

It came from a sketch - yeah, sure, it's a worry, but one of the good things about that is that at least you've got something there in the first place; you're not working off a blank page. You know there are two characters that work, that's a good start; and you've got two good actors playing them. It's more reassuring in some respects, than just having nothing.

Andrew passed on Mr Flibble's next question: What do you find the grossest and/or FUNNIEST MOMENT in the film?

There are some very funny bits. Do I have a preference? Well, everyone looks from a biased point of view. I like the stuff that I think has been shot and cut together in a clever and inventive way. If you asked Harry then he'd probably go for one of the jokes.

One of my favourite bits is Harry getting upset, as Kevin. He and Perry have a row at one stage in the film; he has a sort of recovery period and before that recovery period he gets really upset, and that always makes me laugh. (Laughs - just to prove it.) It's his performance in it, it's just so funny.

One particularly gross bit is a sequence where two girls get ready to go out for the night and they have themselves. For full details go to for the spot-squeezing sequence! (Laughs)

Tell me about the movie soundtrack...

A lot of work's gone into that. One of the tracks, Big Girl, has already been released. It's a sort of eclectic mix of dance music, really. Well, that's hardly eclectic I suppose, it's dance music. Strike out the word eclectic. There's some current stuff, some very new stuff. It's a very cool soundtrack, actually. I'm looking forward to my free copy - which I won't get. (Tuts)

Let's talk about the GUEST STARS as well. You've got Laura Fraser and Rhys Ifans...

Yeah, Laura Fraser plays one of the girls, and Tabatha Wady is her friend. Rhys Ifans plays a disk jockey called Eyeball Paul; and the reason he's called Eyeball Paul is because of his drinking habits - see the film for further details. There is a real DJ called Tall Paul who's very successful, and when he heard about Eyeball Paul he was concerned that we were taking the mickey out of him. Considering he's the kind of person who can tie you in knots in seconds we were a bit concerned. (Laughs)

Mr Flibble wanted to know why he wasn't offered the role of Kevin's father, as he was recast for the movie...

Yeah, he's now played by James Fleet. The reason for that wasn't because the other dads were unsuitable or anything; it's just in movie-land they wanted some bigger names. We fought hard to keep Louisa, she's been the mum all the way through, but we gave in on the dad. Having said that, James is extremely good, a fantastic actor - I wouldn't have anyone else.

Are there any moments of the film that you think show as your own, that really show off YOUR OWN STYLE?

I don't know. Somebody said to me that you can tell because of all the sound effects and stuff that go in; because I always pile as much sound work as I can into stuff to make it come to life. I suppose there's quite a lot of post [production] sound on this, that I'm really happy with, and the music is really loud and strong. I like stuff to sort of fly out of the screen a bit.

I think there's a danger with British films that it's all lots of people eating dinner, and the sound of cutlery and tea sounds and birdies, you know. Whereas this is massive music, straight in your face, with good sound effects; so that might be me, I suppose. I think [well] cut together sequences [are my favourite] - the spot sequence and the stiffy in bed sequence and the things that I just got from the spartan-ist description in the script, which I then expanded myself.

Those are the bits I like. Comedy moments that I've turned into something. Although of course all that would be pretty useless without a decent script - so you're as good as the script you're given and you shoot with. It's great, Harry and Dave Cummings did a good job.

Mr Flibble enjoyed talking to Ed Bye, and now it's over... Mr Flibble's very cross.