Mr Flibble Talks To... Knot Knock
'Shend' - transitive verb, 1) to put to shame or confusion; 2) reprove, revile; 3) injure, mar, ruin, destroy. But he does have a softer side. Mr Flibble flashes back to the man mountain who crushed Rimmer's goolies.
17 August, 2001
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble whispered his first question to Andrew - but before he could ask it, he had to explain to Shend why only he could hear the penguin's voice. Shend wasn't very convinced. Finally, Andrew asked where the NAME Shend came from?

The halcyon days of punk rock, when everybody had a funny name. I made up this word, Shend, off the top of my head. It was only about eight years later while browsing through the Oxford English Dictionary - as you do - I thought I'd look up Shend, see if it meant anything. And yes, there were about two pages on it - meaning to disembowel, destroy, annihilate - like something from The Omen. But it stuck.

You've done quite a bit of comedy, is that deliberate?

It's probably because people look at me and go, '(titters) He's funny, we'll have him.' My main objective is the straight villain part! My dream is to be in David Lynch films, Tarantino films; roaming the streets of L.A. with a machine gun. It seems the comedy villain parts... I'm obviously good at them. People see me as that, and I'm not going to complain. It's usually great fun doing comedy - because, obviously, it's less serious.

Shend was somewhat unnerved by the mutterings of Mr F and was about to call his agent to ask what he'd got him into when finally a semi-decent question was asked: Let's talk about some of your film and TV APPEARANCES. You did the Lock, Stock TV series...

That's a mixture of the two. I was a sort of dork in that. It combined witty one-liners with... maiming and killing. (Laughs) I was in my element there; that was a damn good laugh.

You were also beaten up by Martin Clunes in Men Behaving Badly...

One had to suspend disbelief for that episode. I'd worked with Neil Morrisey twice before - I did Boon, and Paris with Alexei Sayle - and when I went in for Men Behaving Badly, it was great fun to do. It was good, and sort of like Red Dwarf. Sometimes when you go in as a special guest to a regular [show] with regular people, it's like staying with a strange family! Everybody's a bit, 'Eew, who's he?' You just feel like an idiot. On the outside.

Those two were the exact opposite, where you came in and you were just welcomed in. The Bill's like that as well. I'd worked with Craig before [on Captain Butler], I was Bungo. I was completely silent, had my tongue cut out. Which was very convenient - I'm quite pleased I played that part!

It would have been better if the ship had moved. It was just ridiculous because the ship [set] didn't move. It squeaked or something, over the top of people's lines. It was a hydraulic thing, but they hadn't checked it until the day of shooting. They started it up, and it was rocking, but it was going (makes nasty machine noises). So you couldn't hear what anybody said... which didn't affect me, because I didn't say anything! (Laughs)

I've just done a film, funnily enough, exactly like that. It's called Hot Gold, which has got Daniela Nardini, Honor Blackman, Owen Teale [in it]. It's a sort of spoof - a mixture of Airplane and Temple of Doom. It's either going to be hilariously funny... or miss [its mark] completely! (Laughs)

I played Ali. I had a steel arm, dreadful teeth, Arabic... and I didn't say a word in the whole film. I was in nearly every scene! Very like the Jaws character in Bond, I just went around thumping people - great fun to do, because you don't have to learn any lines!

How do you find working in front of a LIVE STUDIO AUDIENCE?

Never been my favourite thing, I must admit. The reason I don't do theatre is I don't like doing the same thing every night, I might as well be a lathe operator or something. But with TV and film, I love the camera. You can do it again if you get it wrong. I do find that sometimes with the live stuff that you're so desperate to get it right that you don't put as much into the performance.

In Red Dwarf, for instance, I wish I could have done my opening sequence again. Behind the scenery it's hard to hear, and you just burst in. A lot of people like that stuff, but I wouldn't do it if I could avoid it.

Mr F made a comment that, obviously, only Andrew could hear. Shend made a crack about 'a low-rent Sooty' which enraged the penguin. Andrew and Shend only cackled. How did you get the RED DWARF part?

I'd worked with Ed Bye before on The Detectives, with Jasper Carrott, and I did an advert for Pot Noodle with him - which I'm sure he'd rather not remember. It was a great ad - me and John Altman (Nick Cotton from Eastenders) were in prison. I was a goalie, and he bribed me with Pot Noodles to let in goals. Not a problem, I'm a crap goalie! (Laughs)

A sequence from Cassandra - showing you beating up the Cat - was eventually used instead as a flashback in Pete - Part 1. Were you expecting that?

It threw me! (Laughs) I watched Cassandra, and I was, 'Where's the bit with the Cat getting duffed [up?]' I missed the next one - I was working, surprisingly! - and somebody said I was on. I thought, 'Eh? I was dead!' I didn't get rewritten much, [though]. What I started rehearsing with at the beginning of the week was pretty much what [I] ended up [doing].

Often a writer isn't there all the time. It be very difficult if you are the writer and you're watching all the rehearsals thinking, 'God, that would be better if I did that.' I don't blame [Doug] for rewriting!

You are involved with something of a continuity error...

When Cassandra explodes, theoretically my body should be on the floor. Because I died, everybody buggered off, later on she explodes - and where was I? Nobody moved me. There was this raging argument, 'Somebody came in and dragged him out'. 'Shouldn't we do that scene?' No, no, no... He crawled out.' 'He's dead!' 'Nobody'll notice... ' (Laughs)

I'd love to return. Very rarely do you do stuff that you know is a little mark in TV history. Doing an episode of Dr Who would be, doing an episode of The Prisoner would be; and doing Red Dwarf is. It's great to have been in something that does have that longevity.

Mr Flibble had been whittering on about how Sooty never played the national, but as Shend couldn't hear him, it went mostly unnoticed. Except by Andrew, who really couldn't care. The conversation moved on to Rob Grant's DARK AGES...

Steve Bendelack was the director on that, who I'd worked with on The Saturday Night Armistice. I did 'The Good Fight Guide'. (Laughs) I thought Dark Ages was great, but for some reason it didn't quite hit it [off] on TV. And yet you read the scripts, you saw the actors, you were in the scenes - you just thought, 'This is great. It's going to be a stonker.' Then when you watched it, it was, 'Err... '

They recorded a lot of it in front of an audience. All the bits that were [pre-recorded] I thought were great, and all the live audience [scenes] were a bit wooden. It gets a bit shouty, as well. If all of that had been filmed [without the audience], it would have been snappier. Phill Jupitus is a great bloke, but he's a comedian; it just didn't seem to work.

Right now you're writing for 'BIZARRE' magazine...

'Bizarre' magazine - a great literary work! (Laughs) In a way it's kept up the old punk ethic. When I picked my name, when I was 18, I also had various punk bands; and I used to write for 'Sound' when that was going, and 'Zigzag'. Music mags. 'Bizarre' keeps that ethic of, 'Look at that - aagh, that's horrible!' Aliens landing on your head, all that stuff.

They asked if I'd do a monthly column, which was originally called, 'In the Name of Luvvie'. Slagging off actors left, right and centre. I've been doing that for two years, branched it out to digital TV and lots of other things.

I started doing the column after Red Dwarf. I drop in old anecdotes that are funny. The first one I did [was after] I had just done The New Adventures of Robin Hood. Another great historical work...

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