Mr Flibble Talks To... Alexander The Great
Mr Flibble gets chatty with Red Dwarf scriptwriter Paul Alexander in part one of his interview.
18 April, 2003
Paul Alexander - Part 2
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

How did you begin writing?

Very long, boring story. Basically, I went to University . Royal Holloway College in Egham - to dodge thinking about what I wanted to do for a career. There still were careers back in the late '80s. While I was at Uni I figured I needed a job that a) involved a lot of sitting down, and also, preferably, the ingestion of steamy caffeine-based beverages and b) not working in an office.

My first idea was I wanted to be a comic strip artist - drawing Spider-Man, preferably - and while I was at University I self-published my own 'graphic novel', as we pretentious gimps called comics back then, which I wrote and drew and then printed on the presses used to print my college magazine.

I sent a copy to David Lloyd (of V for Vendetta fame, comic fans), who was then president of something called the Society of Comic Strip Illustrators, or something like that, and he very generously wrote back saying, basically, 'Your drawing is crap, but your writing's okay'. Always being one to duck a challenge, I switched immediately to writing. I started freelancing for DC Thomson, selling a couple of series to girls comics Mandy and Tracy - basically 30 quid for every episode you sold, and if they turned down an ep cos they didn't like it, they wouldn't pay you and you'd have to write another one - and also writing several of their anthology science fiction title Starblazer which was great fun. 'Eat laser, space-scum!'

I really wanted to be in 2000AD, like everyone else, but never got close to that, though I did get a strip accepted by the legendary monthly, Warrior, where a lot of early Alan Moore stuff like Miracle Man and indeed V for Vendetta was published. [And] which promptly folded before my strip ever saw the light of day.

This slightly put me off comics - they seemed like hard work for little money. As well as comics, my other interests were watching TV and going to the flicks. See how sitting down a lot is a recurring motif throughout my life? I figured maybe TV would pay more than 30 quid for a script - oh, how naive I was! - and started writing a TV play while I was still at University which I actually sold to the BBC in '87 or '88. These were the days of the last gasp of the single, studio based drama, and I got to work with some pretty good actors on it - the cast included Pete Postlethwaite and Steven Mackintosh.

I immediately decided I was a playwright and spent six months writing another, really pretentious one that was rejected. So I thought, 'Plays take too long. I need to write something I can turn around quicker and get a bit of cash flow going'. Terribly mercenary I know, but I didn't have a day job and was being supported by my girlfriend! So I started doing jokes and sketches for radio, and then started writing for comics like Jasper Carrott and Phil Cool and Dave Allen and blah blah blah - that was the start of the long and winding road that led ultimately to Red Dwarf!