Mr Flibble Talks To... Living Legend
Mr Flibble chats to the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe, Meltdown guest star Pauline Bailey. Boop-boop-be-doop!
9 May, 2003
Pauline Bailey
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble wiped the drool from his tie and asked Pauline how she started IMPERSONATING Marilyn.

I'm one of those people who loves 'vintage' clothes, ever since I was 15 and could choose what I wanted to wear - and I liked the 1950s when I was that age. Not the music, I was never into the music, but the clothes. I bleached my hair blonde, had 50s make-up, and people just started to say to me that I looked similar to Marilyn Monroe.

I didn't have any ambitions to be a model, or in the entertainment business at all. I'd never really heard of look-alikes, so it never crossed my mind that I could do it for a living, but it just went on and on. Then someone told me about an agency and said that I should contact them. They took me on and I just started to get work from them straight away!

As someone who never wanted to perform didn't this give you terrible stage fright?

I have to speak like her - and I sing like her as well - and that's fine, but it was very hard for me because I wasn't stage-struck. The singing was a terrifying thing, but it became a necessity - I was asked to [do it]. It was really frightening - I was sick the first time I did it! (Laughs) I still get more nervous when I sing than anything else.

Mr Flibble offered Pauline a wing to cuddle when she got nervous. Thankfully she declined. Did you enjoy doing MELTDOWN?

I remember that so well. I really, really loved it. We were waxdroids. That's what I liked about it, we weren't look-alikes, we were robots of them. That was a great idea - because you're being a character, but not really. I found that really interesting. I was dressed as Marilyn Monroe, with my gold dress on, and they gave me DMs - running around in this field with my gold dress on firing a machine gun! (Laughs)

It was one of the first things I ever did. The thing with being a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, unfortunately, is that you get asked to do the same things over and over - stand on a wind machine. (Sighs) I like the idea of being dressed as her, but doing something she wouldn't do, something different.

I had to fire a machine gun, which I'd never done in my life, and we had to be shown how to shoot them - making sure our hands weren't where the capsules came out. Apparently our hands could have been blown off! There's a bit when I run on and scream, and that's a scream of fear. (Laughs) I was so terrified of this gun. And I got killed!

How did you find working among all the EFFECTS?

That was absolutely terrifying. The bit where the fight was going on and we had to run through the field, with explosions going off and all the dirt and mud coming down on your head, that was really frightening. Apparently Father Christmas nearly got his foot blown off! (Laughs)

We had to get changed in a hut. We had these things that you rub and they warm up, and we had them down our backs and everything to try to keep warm. I always remember the line-up, where we had Ghandi in his nappy. That guy was 80 or 90, and it was so cold that day. Rimmer says, "Drop and give me 50." We all thought he was going to die! It was freezing and he had to do press-ups!

Mr Flibble is always costumed in the same old penguin suit - but Marilyn actually had several COSTUME changes...

I wore a gold sequined dress, a pink dress, and when I was in the studio I wore a copy from the Bus Stop movie. They were all mine. The DMs weren't mine! (Laughs) The gun wasn't mine and the earplugs weren't mine, but the dresses were mine.

What do you remember of the studio day?

I had one line! (Laughs)

"Good versus evil, sugar."

That was really enjoyable, [watching the] video of the outside stuff cut with the studio [scenes]. The audience seemed to really enjoy it.

Looking through the footage, there are a lot of takes of the shot that starts with you applying lipstick...

I remember that. Sometimes you get to the stage where it doesn't want to go on any more, where you go to put it on and it starts coming off. It doesn't want to play any more.

Recharging the lipstick!

I just remember talking to everybody. Meeting Craig Charles - he was very, very nice. Chris Barrie, Hattie Hayridge - she was really lovely. I've worked with Chris a couple of times since. We did a thing where we had to present some advertising awards. He was hosting it, so I was his assistant, giving the awards out. And I saw him at a corporate function up north somewhere.

Having played this part so often professionally, did you do your own hair and make-up?

Yes I did. I think I've improved quite a bit since I was in the show. For me, to do it yourself is really important. It's part of your impersonation, and somebody else would do it differently. That's their interpretation rather than yours. I like to take responsibility - then if I'm not happy then I've only myself to blame. I've had a couple of experiences where I've had other people do it and I've not been happy at all.

I made a commercial in Switzerland and they'd flown the make-up girl in from Germany. She just put some rollers in my hair for about five minutes and it all fell out, the eyeliner was on crooked... I thought I looked terrible, but I had to go on with the job. It was quite funny, because they'd booked me to go back to this exhibition hall in Zurich and people kept saying to me that I looked nice, 'But who's that awful girl on the poster?' It was me! (Laughs)

Do you remember any reaction to Meltdown going out?

My boyfriend owns a comic shop. It was quite funny when I was in it first of all, when people found out they'd bring the Companion books in and ask me to sign them. I was like, "But I only had one line!" It's amazing - it's one of those things people remember.

The series was seriously rearranged from the original order when the Gulf war happened. Did you keep tuning in expecting to see your episode?

Now you say that, I remember that I kept watching [every week] waiting for it to be on. I watched all of them, thinking maybe they'd scrapped it.

It was an odd mix of people to keep waiting - some actors, some impersonators...

It was. You do get people from the look-alike agencies who do Sherlock Holmes and things like that! Quite bizarre, really - a non-existent person! It can't be a real look-alike - he doesn't exist!

With Sherlock Holmes it's just an outfit. (This, unfortunately, was Mr Flibble's cue to try on a deerstalker hat and pipe. Thankfully nobody had a camera.) Do you enjoy YOUR JOB?

Of course! I sing songs like I Want To Be Loved By You, Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, My Heart Belongs To Daddy - and I get a lot of requests to sing Happy Birthday. I did that last year for Professor Stephen Hawking up at Cambridge.

He's a huge Red Dwarf fan.

Is he? Well, he's a really big Marilyn Monroe fan. He said, "Me and Marilyn go back a long way." I said to him, "You said you weren't gonna tell anyone about that, honey." (Laughs)

Mr Flibble enjoyed talking to Pauline Bailey, and now that it's over... Mr Flibble's very cross.

You can link to Pauline's website via the Links section.