Mr Flibble Talks To... Gordon Bennet
Mr Flibble indulges his love of the classics with Catherine Harvey - Beyond a Joke's giggly Kitty Bennet.
6 September, 2002
Catherine Harvey
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Starting at the BEGINNING, what was the first play you were in?

The first play I ever did when I was nine was Under Milk Wood, I was a child in a drama school production. I had to say, 'Nogood Boyo gave me three pennies yesterday, but I wouldn't.' Until I was sixteen I didn't know what I'd said - I didn't know why everyone was laughing! Nobody told me. (Laughs)

You act and direct - have you ever tried both together?

I did once - I loved it, although I couldn't get to sleep because all I thought about was what I was directing, all night long. It absorbed me for weeks, months. But I liked it. It's interesting finding out about lighting and things. As long as you're standing in one, you never consider it when you're acting.

Mr Flibble arrived late, whispering to Andrew that he had been caught up in the library. Despite appearing intellectual, the real reason turned out to be that he had a flipped trapped in a particularly heavy book. Catherine, how did you get onto RED DWARF?

I was having a driving lesson and my mobile rang. My driving instructor answered it and had a long chat with my agent. He said I had to go back home because I had to get to Shepperton that day, so I cut my driving lesson short - learnt how to drive quickly! (Laughs) I got the part in Red Dwarf but failed my driving test.

Before the audition, when I was waiting outside to meet [Casting Director] Linda [Glover], a monster came up to me and said, 'Who are you?' and 'Good luck' and walked off - and it was Don Henderson.

Were you asked to read from the episode in the audition?

Linda gave me a bit of script, but I mostly had to improvise. There was a camera and I sort of flirted with someone imaginary to one side of it, laughed a lot. Giggled - she tested my giggle.

Did you know Pride and Prejudice already?

I did the book for GCSE, so I knew it really well. I really like it, and I love those characters. I'd always wanted to be one of those two silly sisters.

Mr Flibble whispered that he had read all the classics - Fungus the Bogeyman, Dick and Jane... Andrew asked Catherine about the LOCATION shoot for Beyond a Joke.

It was on an army base, I think. A lot of soldiers kept coming out of the water! (Laughs) We were all very excited and there was a rumour that the guy who drove the tank also drove it for GoldenEye. So we waited to see what he looked like when he came out of the tank, to see if he looked like James Bond. We all waited on the shore for the tank to come out of the water just to see what he'd be like.

And did he look like 007?


The woods...

It was a boiling hot day. It's really hot today, and I just associate Red Dwarf with being really, really boiling hot. We were putting sun cream on all the time, because if we went red it was a bad thing - because ladies didn't go red.

We were filing though the woods and every now and again another one of us was killed in a different way by Kryten. A poison dart, and a noose wrapped round a foot. He kept missing me, I remember. Sophia [Thierens] and I had the most annoying laugh, so he was really after us. (Laughs)

We all watched the gazebo, when it blew up, from the other side of the lake. I remember getting the contract, and there was a clause in it about something being blown up. I remember ringing my agent and saying, 'Is this going to be dangerous?!' I think it blew the windows out on some of the nearby houses! It was really loud.

How did you find your COSTUME?

Mine might have been quite an old one, actually. It came from Angels, and I tried a f ew things on. I have the feeling that it was an original. It was really beautiful. Everyone else had a wig on but me, because I've got 'stunt hair'. So I had to go home with all the ringlets in, and I woke up the next morning when my agent phoned me and said, 'You've got an interview in about an hour. You have to leave now.' So I had an interview for another job [with the 'stunt hair']! (Laughs)

You actually made something of a comeback in the STUDIO...

After we were dead we came back to have a curry. We were dead, that was it - and then Linda phoned up and said, 'We'd like you to come back and eat curry.' It was an addition, and Sophia had gone on holiday unfortunately. She couldn't come back and do it. We were there all day, but we were in the studio for about ten minutes. It was like a big party when we went back, because the atmosphere was fantastic.

Did they feed you real curry?

Yes, but I'm a vegetarian, so I had to have all the chicken in my curry around the edge of my plate. One of my lines was to do with that particular type of curry, so the chicken had to be visible. I remember the popadoms were over the microphones and Craig got into a bit of trouble when he started to eat them! (Laughs)

How did you get on with the cast...

I'm from Liverpool, so Craig and I talked about Liverpool. Danny was fantastic, because I've done a lot of theatre and radio, but I haven't done much television. My whole job was to flirt with him all day, which is a nice job, and he was really helpful and supportive. Danny lost one of his fangs and everybody had to go looking for it! I never saw what Robert Llewellyn looked like the whole time we were filming! But he had a nice voice...

How do you feel about your time on 'Dwarf' now?

I think it's the nicest job I've ever done. A lot of people ask me about Red Dwarf, and I always say that every minute was fantastic. We just laughed all the time.

Mr Flibble muttered something about serious actors not having time to laugh, but was typically ignored. Did you watch the show go out?

Yes - I had a party at my house! We all sat and watched it, all my friends. We had dinner and we were all ready with a drink when it started! That's the only thing I've ever had a party for, but I try to watch things when they go out. In theatre I tend to be nervous on the first night, but after that I'm fine. When you do TV or radio, you never know how it's going to be - so when you watch it, it's like the first night.

Moving on to some of your OTHER work, did you enjoy appearing in Oscar and Lucinda?

I did that almost immediately after Red Dwarf. We filmed in Portsmouth, on the Victory, and I get seasick - so I had to wear travel sickness bands underneath my costume!

Finally, you played Charlotte Bronte in the theatre in Charlotte, Emily and Anne...

It's a really interesting play, actually. People are quite surprised. They think of the Brontes as these quite serious women who sat at home with their quite serious father and wrote quite serious books. The thing about this play is that they're lots of fun. It's quite sad, though, because Charlotte watches them all die, basically, so she's left alone at the end.

Did the cast bond as 'sisters'?

Yes. We've done other things together since, actually, with the same director. Poetry readings and book launches, we all keep in touch. We've been working on and off together for a few years. We look a bit alike as well.

What are you doing now?

I'm writing a book at the moment - which happened by accident! I did a writing course and at the end we had to produce a piece of work. I was writing a play to do with a friend, and he couldn't come to the performance so I wrote a speech for myself to do, about a ghost. At the end a lot of people came up to me and said, 'This isn't a play, it's a children's book.'

I'd never considered writing a novel, but I've been writing it for over a year and it's nearly finished. I've had a very positive response so far - but it's just sort of happened.

Mr Flibble enjoyed talking to Catherine Harvey, and now that it's over... Mr Flibble