Mr Flibble Talks To... Ravaging Rimmer
Doc Newton's alter ego, Kika Mirylees, tells us about behaving badly in Red Dwarf and Bad Girls.
10 January, 2003
Kika Mirylees
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble whispered his first question to Andrew: Can you remember your first professional ACTING job? Andrew said he'd never acted before... but nobody was amused, so he passed the question dutifully on to Kika.

My first job was at a theatre company for children - a touring company which went all over England and Wales. They devised their own plays, and the first play I did was for fifteen year olds, which was Taste of Honey.

That was a good job actually, and I got that by gatecrashing, I have to say! I hadn't bothered to write to anybody and all my mates had and they all got these interviews for theatre centres, so I just thought, 'Oh no,' rang up and said, "You haven't sent me an interview" and she said, "Well you didn't send me an application." I said, "No, I did, I did!" "No, no. You didn't." "Yes, I did!" I said, "I can't understand it!" So she said, "Well you'll have to go on the waiting-list, there's a hundred people on it."

So I found out where they were actually doing it and went along on my motorbike. I walked in and the powers that be where just having a break, a sandwich and a coffee, and I said, "Look, can you give me an audition now?" So the woman that I had spoken to on the phone earlier said, "I've told this girl she's not allowed to have one." But I said, "Oh go on, look you're having a sandwich now, all you have to do is sit and watch!"

So they did, and I was very lucky - I got the job. I blagged my way in. But I'm more of a charmer than a blagger. I had to do something, I just needed to get going. I was lucky, I think they offered it to someone else first but they turned it down so I was over the moon about it! My friends wouldn't speak to me because I was so idle and had just gatecrashed it! (Laughs)

What was your first TV appearance?

It was a 'Play of the Month' with Robert Hardy as Colette O'Neil. It was written by a chap called Mike Vardy. Because I'm half Scots I was playing Colette O'Neil's daughter. A rather nice bonny, wee Edinburgh lassie, aye! Flora was her name, she was a nice wee girl. It got the Silver Bear award in America, which was quite good. It was quite good fun, actually, looking back on it. It was quite a nice light-heated piece of stuff and they were very nice to work with... but it was at a time when it was absolutely snowing up in Scotland and I was camping out at my Granny's! (Laughs)

Mr Flibble said he doesn't really mind the cold. Funny that, what with him being a penguin and everything. How did you get involved with RED DWARF?

They just rang up and said they wanted to see me. I think I had been put forward by my agent at the time, and they said, 'Come down to Shepperton and do a readthrough and a screen test'. They wanted somebody to jump on Rimmer - lucky me! I think I had to wear glasses, because my vision is getting worse and I had my hair up, so I did the, 'You're beautiful Miss Jones', laughing as I did it, took the glasses off and threw the hair down and jumped on him! He wasn't in the room [for the audition] so I had to pretend and 'do it' to the camera.

That's nothing - Mr Flibble once had to pretend to be flying!

It was no worse than some of the adverts you get put up for, when you have to imagine a chair is a gas oven and things like that! And it's fun. The lady who casts for them is lovely, so you think, 'Good. It'd be nice to do this. This will be a laugh.'

What's it like to come in to Red Dwarf from the outside?

The thing with all these jobs is that you meet people and you have a really nice time and then you disappear. They were all very welcoming and very nice. I didn't have to do mine in front of a live audience, but I didn't realise that - so when somebody said it's live I said, 'Oh god, you're kidding! I can't do that!' But I remember Danny saying, "One day I could not remember this line, and it went on and on, but it was brilliant because the audience just cheered when I got it and it's actually enormous fun."

Let's talk about that TOILET SCENE...

I hadn't looked at the script properly and I thought, 'Oh my god, I've got to sit on the bog with my knickers round my ankles! No, this is too much!' But when I realised everybody else was having to do it [I relaxed]. I'm pleased to say that we had ordinary pants on underneath and then we had the other pants that came down. It was glamorous stuff! It was very, very funny; you had to stop yourself from laughing.

[There was] also the guy who played the psychiatrist - somebody suggested that he should be sitting there with suspenders on, and they did it! His face was great. He said, "No, no!" and they went, "Yeah, yeah!" So he was overridden.

I'll bet the experience was made even more fun by Robert Llewellyn...

[Robert Llewellyn] is superb! He is one of the funniest men. He is very, very witty. I don't know if he broke wind, I think he did and it was really terrible. The smell was awful! (Laughs) I just remember this awful smell emanating from him and I thought, 'He's sealed in with that!' But of course [he's] not sealed in that well, and it's coming out! He owned up to it. I think he tried to do the usual thing of trying to shuffle it on to other people initially, but there was no getting away from it. It was hanging onto his costume! But it was bloody awful, it was a real stinker! (Laughs)

Mr Flibble understood this exactly. He's always the first one blamed when ornithological emissions are found on the set... Moving on, do you watch the things that you've appeared in AFTERWARDS?

I do if I catch them. I saw [Red Dwarf] because I wanted to see how the programme worked. When I got the script I didn't have a clue what was going on, and when I'd done it I still didn't know what was going on, so it was interesting to see what was happening and where I fitted in. I thought the show was really, really funny.

I'm quite detached about myself, I just look at things and go, 'Oh yeah, you did that all right, you didn't do that so well, don't do that again, don't pull that face girl, remember that one,' and that's it.

Did you know Red Dwarf previously?

I'd watched it a couple of times. I wasn't a fan, fan, fan, but I'd liked it and thought it was amusing when I'd seen it. But I also knew that it was a good thing to work on in the sense that people really enjoyed doing it, and that it had a huge following. You want to be a part of things like that. Plus it was so unique. I think that was the other thing, it's nice to do things where there is nothing else like it. It stands on its own. It's got kudos; it's got status... so it's a good thing to have on your CV.

I really don't want to do jobs where I'm not having a laugh. That's really what I'm interested in. If I enjoy it, if people make me giggle and we're having a nice time off set, that's really my main criteria. You can do really great stuff that looks brilliant and it can be the most hideous job in the world. You really have to make your life fun - it's got to be enjoyable.

Away from Red Dwarf, you also appeared in BBC2's spoof documentary series, PEOPLE LIKE US...

It was initially on radio wasn't it - but do you know what, The Office is a total rip-off of it. The thing is that some things just take and other things don't, but [the style] had already been established with that. What was interesting was that you really had to be incredibly naturalistic. People were cast, rather like Ricky Gervais, really because they were similar to that character.

Finally, tell me how you got the role you're most famous for, Julie J in BAD GIRLS...

I like character acting. When I went for the job, I didn't go as me, I went as the character, because I knew there were people who hadn't met me and I had to really, really push to get the audition. So I went in with a very short skirt, chewing gum - I looked disgusting! I think somebody rattled his change at me in Soho thinking I might be up for it! And I remember all these people looking at me when I went in, so I used the accent when I walked in, because I felt I couldn't risk going in as me and saying, "Oh yes of course I can do a south-east London accent."

So I did it like that and had to come back for another go with about four other girls and we swapped all the parts around and they reckoned that it was me and Vicky [Alcock] who gelled. It wasn't really until I turned up for the readthrough and signed on the dotted line that I stopped talking like that!

The relationship of the two Julies is really important - how have you found that chemistry with Victoria Alcock?

It's been quite an interesting thing to do. It's two people sitting there and you have to be aware of the other person all the time. You just get so used to each other. We're fairly easy with one another, so I suppose that has a lot to do with it, but you just slot in anyway because you're together all the time. It would be a nightmare if you loathed one another. It really would be, you just couldn't do it. You have to be giving.

And now you're working on a fifth series of Bad Girls...

Well, you don't bounce out on the streets and they go, 'Oh Kika's free, let's give her a job!' You take what's there. If they do another one [after this], which they probably will, I will have the whole of the summer off, so I can do stuff then if it's available. But I'm a real horse woman - not in the sense of (snooty accent), "Oh let's all go out and have a jolly good time", I'm not one of those at all. I do a very, very alternative, more Western-style of training, and that's my passion. So I'm lucky at the moment as I get to do that and I get to do my acting. It's not bad, but it's taken a hell of a lot of time to get there, and I imagine it will only be for another year and then it's back on the streets girl! But wouldn't it be great if they did a [Bad Girls]film...?

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