Mr Flibble Talks To... Off To See The Wizard
Mr Flibble logs on with Robert Llewellyn to discuss all things WomanWizard.
6 June, 2003
Robert Llewellyn - No. 3
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble typed his first question - it contained three Qs, two Zs and a rogue % sign. Andrew took over the typing. What made you want to go back to LIVE PERFORMANCE again?

I'd done one or two 'after dinner' performances which had started to go very well. I really enjoyed doing them and so it kind of grew from that. I did a lot of jokes about how annoying software could be and how it dominated our working lives. People seemed to relate to it so I thought there must be something in this.

Is it something you enjoy?

I definitely enjoy the time actually on stage. I freely admit that getting to that stage can be a bit of a pain. A lot of travelling, finding the theatre, lugging the stuff about. I'd forgotten that this could take up a large part of your day.

The big advantage of doing a solo show [is that] you can change it whenever you want, you're not going to throw anyone but yourself. I re-wrote WomanWizard on a nightly basis when I started doing it, chopped the running order, put in new slides.

Talk me through the CONCEPT behind the WomanWizard show...

I think it started when I first made contact with the very swish generation of computer games, the first-person shoot 'em ups. I saw them and thought, 'This is clever enough to create a really annoying and difficult game called "Getting Along With Someone You Love."' A character you have to play against who doesn't like the same things as you, who sees the world differently and who has sudden and unexpected mood swings.

What were the inspirations for it?

The women in my life. I don't mean that there are a lot of them all together now, I mean the women who have been in my life over many years. Trying to understand them, and eventually reaching the point where my life improved beyond measure when I realised it was futile to even begin to try and understand them. It was only then that I was ready to create a fictitious software [package] that would help men understand women.

Mr Flibble has always had trouble understanding Mrs Flibble... but, to be fair, that's mostly because she speaks the same way he does - through Andrew. It's fine for small talk, but saucy chat is an embarrassing experience for all concerned. You've never been afraid to include actual experiences from your private life in your work - does it ever cause rows at home?

Not really because we have both done it in the past. When Judy was doing stand up, she was brutal and cruel at my expense and somehow we've worked out a way to survive it. I think we are both pretty secure with each other.

I was surprised by a lower sexual quotient than I'd expected. Are there any specific reasons for that?

I think that the obvious area for a comedy like WomanWizard would be the sexual arena and I wanted to avoid it as much as possible, it's very well trodden territory, and I thought the medium of a software launch allowed me to look at other aspects of monogamy.

How do you think WomanWizard follows on from The Reconstructed Heart?

I'm sure there is a logical progression, but there was also something like 12 years between them. It's just the way it turned out, the way the technology has moved on. If I wanted to change a slide in The Reconstructed Heart, it took me about a month. I used to change slides just before I went on stage with WomanWizard, took me about ten seconds.

Did you create the various menu and ILLUSTRATION slides yourself?

Originally I created the whole show myself, I am a big Photoshop fan, although not very proficient. As the number of files grew I drafted in the support of Mark Lowe, the genius behind my web site, and he started delivering the sprauncy graphics that make up the WomanWizard operating system. However all the line drawings and characters I did myself.

Is the female WomanWizard character drawn to look like Judy? For that matter, is the bloke you?

You could easily say that the drawings of 'the woman' were based very casually on Judy. She is not impressed. The bloke is based on me, but clearly the ruder aspects of the graphics are pure fantasy.

Mr Flibble was glad to hear it - that chap could be left with a serious balance problem! Talk me through the FILMING...

We used three mini DVs over two nights, to try and get different angles. It was all done on a pretty amateur basis I admit - I've learned a lot even from this short experience. Lighting is crucial, as is colour balance, but on the whole, I think the project captures the atmosphere of the event pretty accurately.

What prompted you to release the show on DVD on your own?

In some ways this was why I did the show - it meant I could effectively write and edit a TV programme, record it, and distribute it as a semi solo venture without ever having to have a meeting in an office. The show meant I could test the material, but the aim was always to make the DVD and see if anyone would buy it.

I know people were expecting the DVDs to come autographed, following a mention of that on your website - what became of that idea?

Ahh, um. Yes. That. Um, I forgot... And I will start signing the next lot that go out. I was just desperate to get them out as soon as I could, I felt very bad about the people who had ordered them, they took longer than planned to get pressed, so it was all done in a bit of a panic.

Mr Flibble offered to sign a few - any chance to give away an autograph. What's next in the Robert Llewellyn PIPELINE?

I am working on two new books, but they are going to be a while. I want them to be radically different from anything I've written so far, so it's going to take time. I'm in the middle of Scrapheap, series six, at the moment, and that keeps growing - 16 episodes this year!

I'm also working on a new DVD, this one is going to feature one, or even two new software products - iSpin, a one-click political solution engine, software built to help us deal with a complex political world; and iSci, the ultimate science fiction software that guides you through any genre. It's the software sci-fi buff at your side, 24/7. Oh yes, and then I'm doing more Hollywood Science shows.

Finally how are you currently feeling about the Red Dwarf movie? The buzz now seems to be for Australia and I know you have connections to that particular country...

I have every limb and organ crossed. It would be great to make the RD movie in Australia. The studios are near Judy's family, we have spent a lot of time there in the past and I know the rest of the cast would love it there. It's been a long time coming, both for the fans and for us, so I think once we got the first reel in the can - does that sound filmy enough? - I'm sure we'd have a great time.

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

WomanWizard is available from - a link can be found in Links.