Mr Flibble Talks To... Reality Sucks
With a last minute script alteration, the call went out for Jeillo Edwards - the funny, talented and familiar face of decades of Brit TV. Mr Flibble waddled into London to fill a space on Jeillo Edward's clearance list.
20 April, 2001
Jeillo Edwards
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble whispered his first question into Andrew's waiting ear: What's the best time you've ever had ACTING?

I think I love theatre better. The worst thing about theatre is that most times you have to go on tours, and I couldn't [go], not with a family growing up. If there was anything being done just in London, I would do it. I like doing theatre, or shows, like sit-coms, in front of an audience. That's not bad.

What have you worked on?

Oh, thinking back…A friend of mine was laughing at me the other day. He said, 'Any time they ask you what you've done, you say, …not much…!' Because I can't remember! (Laughs) It's been such a long time and I keep doing different things. The most recent ones, within the last two years, that I've really enjoyed were The League of Gentlemen and Sam's Game with Davina McCall. I did Spaced as well - I liked that one - with Simon [Pegg].

Trying to seem unimpressed Mr Flibble said he can drop names too. Then managed to drop his question list instead. As he bent over, Andrew gave him a shove, knocking him beak over flippers and leaving Andrew to ask if Jeillo liked working with comedians…

Yes - because there's that feedback between the two [of you] and the timing [is better]. It works better if it's someone who's up to it and has that experience. [My Spacedscene] was filmed in an office block, I think it was an empty one that they decorated up [to look like a dole office].

Was your League of Gentlemen scene on location?

It was a location one, in the [charity] shop. I bought a bag. That's filmed somewhere past Manchester [Hadfield], and I was away from home for one day. They booked for me to sleep over, but my daughter has got twins and I was looking after them during the day. So she took the time off work while I went to Manchester, so I had to come back the same day so she could go to work the next day. Now they're in nursery school, thank God! (Laughs)

So tell me about you appearance in RED DWARF - had you seen the show before?

I'd seen it once or twice. I think it's more a man's game. It's a boys' toys game. (Laughs) I was called in, and because it was all the way out in Shepperton, I thought, 'No, I won't go to Shepperton to do that.' My agent said, 'They really want to see you'. So I said, 'If they can provide me with a car, I'll go!' (Laughs) Getting to Shepperton is a lot of bother on the train and bus at my age. I went to see them the next day.

How much notice did you have that you were going to do it?

I think I had a week, a few days, it wasn't a lot.

Are you fast at learning your lines?

Well, yes. I just get the storyline. I tune myself to listen to the other actor, and as long as I hear the cue word, I pick it up. Once I know the storyline…In fact, sometimes I find myself saying other actor's lines1 Because once you know the storyline, you just tune yourself to that.

And your sequence was done live in front of an audience…

I was shocked when they asked me to take a bow! (Laughs)

How did you find the costume?

It's a pity I didn't take a picture, because I never, ever wear trousers! (Laughs) It's because of my size, you see. I can never buy the right length, so I never bother with trousers. I thought I should have taken a picture in that - the trousers and that hat. I like hats, I do wear hats.

How tall are you?

I always say five feet, but I'm four foot eleven and a half! (Laughs)

My Flibble says he's even shorter - especially since someone dropped him on his head. Do you WATCH YOURSELF on TV?

Anytime I watch myself on television, I think, 'I must go on a diet.' (Laughs) I hate seeing myself. But when you have a lot of children around, you keep picking on leftovers. This is my problem - not that I sit down and eat a great big meal, but that I keep picking on leftovers.

They sent me a tape of Sam's Game and I went upstairs to my grandson's bedroom, and I took the twins - they're only two and a half - to watch it with me. One was all noisy, jumping up and down on the bed saying, 'Nana there! Nana there! Nana there!' All of a sudden, when it was finished, they started saying all of my lines! (Laughs) 'Sit down!', 'Your table's over there!' (Laughs)

Tell me about some of your TV dramas, like Casualty

I think the last one I did I had to hit my grandson with my handbag! (Laughs) I think I've done about three or four of them. The first one I did was the circumcision one, where I had my granddaughter circumcised, then she died eventually. That was a very controversial one. I've done some others since then, but the last one I did, my grandson was stabbed and went to hospital, and I'd always told him not to keep bad company, so I gave him a whack with my handbag!

Do the bloody special effects bother you?

You know you're working, so you just do it. It doesn't affect me. I don't think about, 'Ooh, there's blood'. I just get into my character, and I do the lines, and that's it. It's just the situation I'm in.

You've also done The Bill

The most controversial one was the euthanasia one, when I helped my husband to commit suicide. That was about three of four years ago, and they were nominated for an award for that one.

I do read it [in the press] and I think, 'Well, that's good', you know? It gives you some sort of confidence that at least you've done something. You go all out to entertain, and to let people believe in the character. So if you can achieve that, it is something.

It's like Sam's Game, that I've just done. The episode I did is called Mama's Kitchen, and I own this restaurant - I'm the captain of my own ship, and everything will be done the way I want it done. When I go shopping, there are one or two 'controversial' black characters who have stalls in Brixton - restaurants or shops - and when you go into them, you know what to expect. Not kindness and sweet-talk!

I remember we were looking for a costume for a series I did called In Exile, and we went to this shop in Brixton and we kept looking at all these dresses. I think the lady was sort of fed up - there was no-one in the shop except us! - and she said, 'My dear, there is nothing wrong with the dresses, you just have to lose a bit of weight, that's all.' (Laughs) 'Thank you very much.' They just speak their minds, that's it. So when I got this character, I [used that experience]. That's being shown in May on ITV.

You were also in Pat and Margaret with Julie Walters and Victoria Wood…

This is what I was saying, if you have a good actor playing opposite you, it works wonders. Victoria Wood and Julie Walters - it works for them!

A lot of your characters have been very OUTGOING…

Or loud-mouthed! Strict. I don't think I'm like that. I think I admire people who are like that. So I like playing that type of character, if you are a very observant person you look at people and see how that behave. There are two ladies who had a take-away restaurant in Brixon, and I used to watch them. If one of them saw somebody standing by the door, she'd come out with a broom! (Laughs)

Mr Flibble enjoyed talking to Jeillo Edwards, and now that it's over…Mr Flibble is very cross.