Mr Flibble Talks To... Smooth With A Capital Smoo
She's put step in the Cat's strides as the hottest Ground Controller for 20 light years - but can she compete with the scene-stealing Mr Flibble? Only time, and a sparkly dress, will tell...
20 April, 2001
Yasmin Bannerman
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble suggested that he could easily have played the Cat's love interest, but nobody was listening. Let's talk about HOLLYOAKS...

I did Hollyoaks for a year and a half. Actually, I didn't get a rough ride because my character was often not in it! (Laughs) She was really 'in and out'. She'd literally go to her bedroom and disappear for a couple of months! It was fine for me - I didn't have the rough ride that lots of [soap actors] are having. I had time for a life.

So when it was demanding, I welcomed it. It was nice, and it never lasted for an extended period. I haven't done a lot of soap - that's the only one that I've done, I haven't even done an episode of another one so I don't know what it's like with other casts - but on Hollyoaks it was a really young, lively cast. We were all such good friends and we just had such a good time. For me it was like going away to university for a year and a half and getting paid for it, and going to lots of cool parties.

Were the storylines tough?

No, it was a challenge. (Luvvie voice) Actors love interesting stories, we love it! (Laughs) No-one else wants all these terrible things to happen to the characters, but we do! It's great to be depressed and angst-ridden. The hard thing about soaps is that there are lots of different writers, and so there are lots of inconsistencies that often show up. Because soap moves at such a fast pace, it's not always possible to correct them.

Whereas something like Cold Feet was a joy to work on from an actor's point of view, because - even if you're coming in for the first time - if you think there's the slightest inconsistency, they're discussing it, they're changing it…They want it to be perfect. With soap there's just not the time for that.

That would be pretty hard when you're playing a big storyline and you want to do it right, you want to do justice to people who are actually going through those situations and you don't want it to be twee. But sometimes on a soap it's going to be, because you're moving on quickly, and it's like, 'Yeah, you've got to get over it now. Your character can't suffer for too long or everyone will get bored - "Oh for God's sake, jump!"' (Laughs)

Sometimes with even the most unlikely storylines - well, I thought they were unlikely because they were not occurrences in my life - people come up and say, 'That happened to me, I've really been following it. It brought back these memories and it's been really cathartic for me.'

Tell me about your appearance on RED DWARF - had you seen the show previously?

Oh, yes! How could you not have seen Red Dwarf? It was just the coolest thing. Shooting it took just one day, it was the smallest thing - but all my friends were well impressed. 'You're doing Red Dwarf!? Oh man!' I was really excited about it - I was so nervous. [But] I actually didn't meet any of the cast, because I was in my booth.

I've worked with Danny before - the first play I ever did, he was in. We went touring and everything, so it was quite funny to watch it back and see him. I knew that he was a fantastic dancer, but I'd never seen him [dance] - it was fun to watch the final Red Dwarf and see him move, because even though he's messing about, you can tell, my God, that man is a dancer. It was so wonderful to see myself in a scene with him where he hadn't actually been there…

Like many actors, I don't like watching myself on television, but it's so funny. I did laugh a lot. And it was really interesting to see the way it all shaped up, especially considering I hadn't been there to see what was going on. I'd just read the script - and it was just a hilarious script, the writing is absolutely fantastic.

Moving on - did you know you'd actually snogged a former Red Dwarf actor? Robert Bathurst in COLD FEET…

Oh, you are joking! I had no idea! That is so funny - and I've watched that [episode] as well!

Your role in Cold Feet was a bit of a sexy part - how did you find those scenes?

Terrifying. It's not the first time I've played a sexy character, but it's the first time I've played a character who's being sexy on-screen in front of millions. I must admit, I was pretty terrified about the whole thing. It's funny, because in the beginning you don't really know what's going to happen. The scripts really do evolve.

At first, I thought the kiss in the garden was 'it' - in I think episode two she kisses him in the garden - and as far as Robert and I knew, that was it. We thought, as his character is this sort of jittery type, that that would probably be it. We were sure more was going to happen, but that it would be hinted at.

I remember the morning that we had the read-through for the script where, you know, 'all the action' is, I was the only one who hadn't read the script - because I'd moved and it had been sent to my old address. When I came in in the morning, all these faces were looking at me and saying, 'Ahhh!' All these little nudges. People said, 'Have you read the script, have you read the script?' I said, 'No, I haven't.' 'Ooohh…' Actually, I was mortified - because it's fine as long as I'm not doing it! (Laughs) Anything my dad can't watch…

It was wonderful, though, because the first thing they do is really make you comfortable. The director takes you aside and makes sure it'll be done in a way that you're totally comfortable with. They will not do anything that you don't like. I was impressed with the result, because it actually looks like I'm naked in all those scenes, and I've got everything but my wellies on! There's not even near-nudity there! (Laughs)

I've shattered the illusion now for all sorts of people who sent me some very interesting letters. That was a laugh, reading those to my husband!

What was it like coming onto an established cast like that?

It's so different from something like Hollyoaks where you walk in and it's instantly, you know, fun and great and 'come to this party tonight'. It's more grown-up in that sense. Everyone's really lovely, and they all came and introduced themselves separately. I was so pleased to be working with Robert, because he is the loveliest man. And he plays this twit! This cowardly, insensitive twit!

Mr Flibble put on a silver sparkly dress in an attempt to prove that he could have played Yasmin's role. Unfortunately it made him look like an oven-ready penguin. How was Ben Elton as a director on MAYBE BABY?

At the read-though he was so sweet - he thanked us all for coming like we'd come to his birthday party, and then he was handing out cake! (Laughs) I just wanted to kiss him! He was lovely. He was very funny, and he's very good at telling you what he wants out of the scene. And he leaves you alone. I thought he was a very good director.

Having written the thing himself, he'll suddenly bring in a little change or a line and it's wonderful, it works. He can think on his feet a lot more. It's very easy - he's not panicky. It's a very good atmosphere on set. I only had four days working on it in total, but the second day I turned up he wasn't there because his wife had had twins! It was just amazing - I really didn't know that the story had anything to do with his life at all.

Mr Flibble enjoyed talking to Yasmin Bannerman, and now that it's over…Mr Flibble's very cross.