Mr Flibble Talks To... Triple 'F'
That's right, it's the Francesca Folan Flibble. Not many women can claim to be Rimmer's ideal partner - and those that can are usually captured, sedated and given one of those lovely warm coats with the straps on the back - but this lady has an 'out'. She was a Pleasure GELF...
1 February, 2002
Francesca Folan
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble dragged his flipper coquettishly - slightly smitten with the lovely Ms Folan. Andrew asked him if he was ready to ask his first question. Mr Flibble shook his head and whispered 'You ask her'. So Andrew rolled his eyes and asked how she first began ACTING?

I really started acting when I was 14 with a London-based drama group. I stayed with them until I was about 18, and we ended up going to India - we did a three-month tour of India, which was brilliant.

We did three plays and toured all around. We went into villages, we went to posh places, we went all over the place as guests of the Indian government. It was absolutely wonderful - and I didn't even realise how wonderful it was until I was older and thought, 'Wow, what an experience that was.' It was amazing, I loved India.

Was that your all-time favourite gig?

That's certainly one of them... I'm supposed to say Red Dwarf, aren't I! (Laughs) I suppose, apart from that, I really enjoyed doing The House of Eliott. I absolutely adored my character. I also loved doing Jeeves and Wooster. I like playing character parts, parts that aren't too much like me.

I tend to play a lot of very posh characters - Lady This and Lady That. Though recently, in the last thing I did, I played a very normal person. That was in Holby City. I played the mother of a girl who had jaundice.

Would you like to get away from the posh parts?

I don't care what I do - I just like acting. Though I would adore to play a kind of Cockney character! (Laughs)

Mr Flibble whispered into Andrew's ear that Francesca has very pretty eyes. Both of them. Andrew apologised for his love-sick colleague and asked: How did your part on RED DWARF come about?

Just an audition, actually. I shouldn't be telling you this - the story goes that they were looking though the pictures, and Craig apparently said, 'She looks very sexy'. (Laughs) That's how I got the audition, so I was told.

They were so friendly; absolutely lovely. Because sometimes you do go onto sets and people can be quite cliquey, you just feel like an outsider. I wasn't made to feel like that at all. And at the time I had a seven-week-old baby, so they had to accommodate that. Even when I was filming - when it was the live studio recording - I had the baby in the studio with me! They were that welcoming. I really enjoyed it.

You were the first to wear the red hologram uniform that Rimmer adopted a series later...

I vaguely remember it. I was post-baby, so I was a bit paranoid about my body. I adored the long boots they gave me, I thought those were marvellous. I loved it. I thought I looked... okay. As an actor, once you become a mum, you sort of worry a bit.

Mr Flibble produced a single red rose, which Francesca accepted. Andrew tutted and wished he'd thought of that. Tell me about working with the CAST - two of the other Camilles - were the actor's own partners!

Again, to be honest, they were so professional that it wasn't an issue. It wasn't something I was aware of. I do remember Robert Llewellyn's girlfriend being there, but he was lovely - and she was lovely. We just got on with the job, really.

Your major moment was with Chris Barrie - who's quite an interesting actor.

Yes, he is - and he's much more serious than [you'd expect]. He's quite committed and focussed as an actor. The kind of parts he plays don't necessarily suggest that. He's very, very professional. I just picked up on what he was doing and tried to join in.

Did you find yourself bouncing off him? (Mr Flibble narrowed his eyes in a naughty way at this point, but Andrew and Francesca were too professional to notice.)

Yes, of course, because it wasn't a programme that I knew. I had to fit into a world that was quite off the wall. I was the new girl trying to fit into the style of the piece. But they were so confident in what they were doing that it was very easy to fit into. If you've got actors flailing all over the place and you're quite lost yourself, it can be quite difficult. But the show was so smooth.

Rimmer's Camille was quite sweet, and a bit sexy, seeing as she was supposed to be into telegraph poles and Hammond Organ music...

I just did what I was told! (Giggles) I didn't even get the joke at the time, having not watched the programme. I didn't realise how unlikely it was for him to have somebody in love with him. It was only later that I realised that it was quite a mystery to all those who knew him.

Probably easier to play not knowing...

In a way, you know, it probably is. Otherwise I might have put another layer of thought behind that. Whereas I didn't know, so I just thought I was in love with him, thought he was marvellous. It obviously worked.

Mr Flibble produced a box of chocolates - but having hidden them behind the radiator they were no longer fit for consumption. How did you find the live AUDIENCE?

I loved it - because my background is in theatre. For me it's the best thing you can do - a combination of theatre and cinema. Their response lets you know what you're doing, and yet you could always stop and start again. You totally felt that the audience was on your side, that they wanted it to go well. I found that brilliant.

Did you watch the show go out - and do you generally watch your own performances when they're broadcast?

Yes, I do. I like to watch, to see what I think of it all. It was good! It's very different to watching it on a video. When you're watching it 'live', as it's going out across England, it's very exciting. I like to join in [with] that - I watch it hiding behind my hands, going 'Oh God...' (Laughs) I don't understand actors who don't watch their own work - I don't know how you learn. If you're crap, you can be better next time.

Do you get recognised for your part in Red Dwarf?

I have to say, I've been recognised more for Red Dwarf than anything else I've ever done. Even now! Ten years, eleven years on, people come up to me. I was accosted at the fun fair! (Laughs) I was with my children, and I was amazed they still recognised me. This woman came up: "I just have to ask you..." I thought, 'What on Earth is she going to ask me? And she said, "Are you Camille?" I didn't even register what she was talking about! She said, "My son has got everything about Red Dwarf." "Oh, yeah, that's me!" I'm amazed that people remember it eleven years on.

Mr Flibble, too nervous to ask Francesca out, simply stuttered as the interview came to an end. He hid under a pillow with shy embarrassment, leaving Andrew to ask a final question about her time on JEEVES AND WOOSTER.

I did two series of Jeeves and Wooster playing different parts. I played Madeline Bassett in the first series, who's a complete wallflower-y damsel. Then I played Lady Florence Craye in the last series, and she was a completely hard-headed, domineering cow. They were very different parts.

Is there a lot of on-set chemistry between Fry and Laurie...

They bounce of each other the whole time. They're two of the most generous actors I've ever worked with. I remember my first day working with them, and they both came up and introduced themselves - made sure I was happy with the dressing room, told me what was going on. They were so welcoming, and I was a little bit in awe because they were so famous. Great guys, and hilariously funny - they were just like they are on the telly!

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