Mr Flibble Talks To... The Gunslinger
With a love of Westerns and a suitably sinister presence, Denis Lill was the ideal chance to play a killer simulant and his deathly gunslinger counterpart. Just don't mis-spell his first name.
11 May, 2001
Denis Lill
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

How did you become an actor?

I always wanted to be an actor, I just didn't know the word for it was actor, I think. I was born and brought up in New Zealand, and there wasn't a great theatrical community in New Zealand in the 1950's. If you weren't a rugby player or a sheep farmer, there wasn't much future for you! (Laughs)

When I left school, my parents packed me off to the Royal New Zealand Air Force, where I stayed for about seven years before I was discharged for being psychologically incompatible with the service. But in my time with the Air Force I started dabbling with amateur dramatics, and I decided that the best course of action was to become an actor.

I trained with people like Pam Ferris in Christchurch, New Zealand - we did a lot of stuff together. I trolled around New Zealand for a couple of years doing what acting work was available - mainly radio. Then eventually, because my parents were English and I'd been brought up on stories about home and the old country, it seemed like a good idea to come to Mecca... which in my case was London.

From little New Zealand straight into the sex, drugs and rock and roll of London - which in the late 60's was well up and running! I took to it like a duck to water. (Laughs) I did the usual reps, stuff like that, and finished up at the National Theatre, the Old Vic, under Lawrence Olivier - working with Anthony Hopkins, Bob Stevens, Paul Schofield, Maggie Smith, people like that. Then I went into television and sort of stayed there. But I do have a great appetite for work, and I'm very versatile, so there's always a great deal of work for me.

Do you find that you get restless?

Yes, I do. I seem to be permanently broke as well, so that's a certain amount of motivation.

Can you recall your first professional job?

My first professional gig in this country was at the Phoenix Theatre in Leicester as Assistant Stage Manager. During the course of that, as luck would have it, a couple of the actors got sacked, and they needed an actor pretty smartly. I held up my hand and said, 'I'm an actor. I've got an Equity card. Throw me in!'