Did you enjoy making Red Dwarf and playing Rimmer? And who of the cast was the most fun to work with and why?
Making RD was always hard work but always enjoyable. The writing was invariably of a high standard and I felt that if we weren’t working at our best we would be letting the show down. All the other cast members are great fun to work with.
What is the best show to work on, Machine Documentaries or Red Dwarf?
Difficult to compare the two in terms of actually making them. I enjoy them both, that is why I have done eight series of Red Dwarf plus ‘Back to Earth’ and have now completed five series of engineering related documentaries and why I have just said yes to doing another series of ‘Massive’. (This version is going to be called Massive Speed.)
Would you like to do more stand up comedy?
I still do what can be termed stand up comedy although it is more of an after dinner speech these days.
Where did you start and how did you calm your nerves?
The biography section will cover the early parts of my career and yes it was occasionally nerve racking, but (in those days!) nothing that a couple of pints of bitter couldn’t calm.
Do you keep in touch with the Brittas cast?
I don’t keep in touch with the Brittas cast as much as I would like. Hopefully we will have a reunion again soon as it is over 10 years since we finished the last Brittas recording.
Why wasn’t Julia St John in the last series?
It would probably be best to ask her. She played Laura superbly and possibly thought that the character had been just about fully explored. She was certainly missed in later series.
Did I keep the Austin Maestro used in the Brittas Series?
No! (No disrespect to all Maestro Owners)
Is there going to be a Red Dwarf Movie?
The main concentration at the moment is on a further series.
How did your role in Son of Cliché come about & what memories do you have working on this show?
I was offered the job by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor after working with them on the Jasper Carrot Show. They thought I would be a worthwhile member of the team alongside Nick Wilton and Nick Maloney. We did the first series upstairs at the Latchemere pub in Battersea. I associate the time with carefree days of the early 80s, we had a lot of fun doing the show, similar to early Red Dwarf days.
Recently you’ve been moving towards presenting rather than acting. What prompted this move and what are your plans for the future?
I’m not totally new to presenting work, however no attractive jobs were coming in so I decided that presenting a show dealing with subjects close to my heart was a way forward. I enjoyed making the three Massive series and indeed the two series of ‘Britain’s Greatest Machines’.
Early on you were involved in satirical shows e.g, Spitting Image, Son of Cliché. Was this a conscious decision on your part or were they simply the jobs offered to you?
At the beginning I did not consciously seek out only satirical work but clearly if mimicry is part of your act, then you’ll be considered for satirical shows.
Robert Llewellyn has written several novels, do you see yourself writing anything in the future?
I would not rule out ever writing a book but I have always though of myself as the person who stares at the screen for four hours wondering whether he’ll ever improve on the 10 words he’s written!
Do you plan to embark on a stand-up or any other stage based shows in the future?
No plans for such a show but if the right situation arises, then I will certainly consider it.
Do you plan to use your talent as an impressionist in future projects?
I do occasionally use mimicry when I present at corporate events so it’s altogether a dormant muscle!!
What inspired you to become a performer?
I was running out of things to do because I kept getting the sack from various jobs – performing was the only thing left to try. So far it seems to be working!
Did you enjoy doing the commentaries for the DVD releases and do you know if you will be contributing to future DVDs on something other than commentaries?
Yes, I do enjoy it. It’s a chance to look over the series again and catch up with the cast. No plans at the moment to do anything but commentaries although we all do an interview which is hopefully worthwhile.
How did you first get into voices?
I started impersonating teachers at school and then mimicked various members of staff in early jobs. In 1981, when it was suggested that I do it professionally, I began working up a few voices of famous people, starting with the late Kenneth Williams.
Do the members of the Red Dwarf cast get on well off the set?
After successfully working together for so long it is difficult not to get on well. Every time we meet there doesn’t seem to be enough time to catch up!
Are you as irritating as Gordon Brittas in real life?
Yes, definitely! Ask anyone who knows me!
What character in Red Dwarf, apart from Rimmer, would you most like to play?
Of course they are all great roles but I have always though that Kryten would be the most suitable for me. He has had some great story lines, scenes and dialogue. Frankly though, I wouldn’t be terribly keen to put on a mask everyday. Robert deserves a medal!
Favourite Red Dwarf episode?
Very difficult to choose one episode from over eight series I have to say. Dimension Jump stands out as it was the first time I had the opportunity to play Smeghead Rimmer and Ace together. I had a ball doing Ace (what hair!) and the scenes between the two Rimmers were great fun. Gun Men of the Apocalypse is also superb.
Favourite line in Red Dwarf?
Even more difficult to answer and for now I am not going to commit myself. When I have some time I am going to compile my top 20 favourite Red Dwarf lines and put them on the site.
Is there going to be another series of The Brittas Empire?
In all probability, no. I do remember someone suggesting that we should all meet up on a cruise ship sometime in 2010 ish with Brittas as the Entertainments Officer. Who knows??
What is it like working with Angelina Jolie?
Great! Angelina is a super actress, a very intelligent and decent person and dare I say it, damn gorgeous!
Which voices did you do on Spitting Image?
Between 1983 and 1990, I provided the voices for Ronald Reagan, Michael Foot, Prince Charles, David Coleman, Paul Daniels, Sir John Gielgud and quite a few others. It seems a long time ago!
What was you favourite/the most impressive machine to work with on the ‘Massive’ series?
Like favourite episodes of Red Dwarf, there were so many favourite machines we have filmed in my documentary work. The Gressley A4 class Pacific. ‘Union of South Africa’, the Blower, Bentley, the 1920s Ford Tri-motor Airliner, the Papplewick pump house, the Caterpillar 789 dump truck, the Ducatti 999, the Foden 6 ton steam wagon, the paddle steamer Waverly… the list goes on. All of these were just magnificent pieces of kit and to have a job actually spending a day on them is, for me, simply paradise!
In ‘Stoke Me a Clipper’ you returned as Ace Rimmer. When you are riding your motorcycle and shooting a pistol using your throttle hand, how is the bike still moving?
Ah ha, you clearly haven’t noticed the special foot throttle inboard of the brake pedal (operated by the inner right heel) which, in such eventualities, overrides the hand throttle. (It has to be pointed out here that this is not a frequently asked question, in fact it is possibly the one and only time it will ever be asked!).
What made you decide/realise that this was the right career path for you?
After failing at so many other jobs, (Estate Agent, Retail, Import/Export) I decided that showbiz/TV was the only thing left!
Do you have anything else planned next (apart from Red Dwarf)?
Hopefully in 2010 there may be some more Britain’s Greatest Machine type shows.
Out of all Rimmer’s alter ego’s, which was your favourite to play and why?
I would have to say ‘Ace’ Rimmer was my favourite. He was the complete opposite to Arnie and it was a real ‘release’ for me to play him. He also had great hair!
Who has been your favourtite character to play and why?
I would have to say it is a tie between Arnie Rimmer and Mr Brittas. Both characters were either given fantastic dialogue or brilliant situations – or both!
What was your most/least enjoyable costume in Red Dwarf and why?
The ‘Demons’ outfit in ‘Demons and Angels’ – it was a bit tight in many places!
If you had to pick a character you have played and live as them for a month, who would you choose?
Probably Gordon Brittas – he would sort everything out and would never be short of anything to say!
Which character would you say you are most like and why?
I like to think I am ‘like’ neither of the main characters I have played!