Churchill Theatre is hosting the Kent premiere of the stage version of ‘70s classic TV comedy Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, writes Vicky Edwards…
The most successful sitcom of the decade followed hapless Frank (played on TV by Michael Crawford) and his long-suffering wife Betty with catch phrases galore and a never-ending list of disasters including roller-skating escapades and runaway chickens.
This production stars Kent local Joe Pasquale as the loveable accident-prone Frank Spencer, Sarah Earnshaw as his wife Betty, and Susie Blake as his disapproving Mother-in-Law, Mrs Fisher.
Joe first burst onto television screens in New Faces and went on to win I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and host The Price is Right.
“We have a stunt coordinator and I’m doing it all – hanging by my ankles, chicken chasing and all sorts,” Joe said. “But we’re not doing it as Michael’s version of Frank Spencer; that would be an insult to Michael. I’m putting my personality into it, which is how to make it believable. There’s a difference between child-like and childish and Frank isn’t childish; he believes in what he’s doing.”
“It’s still set in the ‘70s, so you get the mustard wallpaper, tank tops and all the trimmings. It is so funny and you can take the whole family to see it.”
Joe admits he is something of an adrenalin junkie (as well as slumming it on – and winning – I’m a Celebrity fourteen years ago, Joe has also appeared in TV documentaries where he was trained by the SAS and imprisoned in Costa Rica). “If it’s not dangerous or life threatening then I’m not interested anymore,” he said. “I read the book Feel the Fear and do it Anyway fifteen years ago and it made me think. Now, if I’m not sure about doing something, I automatically say OK; let’s do it. You might as well live while you can.”
Asked how the show came about, Joe recalls playing King Arthur in the Monty Python musical comedy Spamalot in the West End a couple of years ago. Stuck in an airless dressing room at the height of summer, wearing chainmail and kingly robes, a broken fan was about as much use as a chocolate fire guard. Setting about taking it to pieces, cleaning it and putting it back together again (“I was sweating my knackers off”), when he turned the power back on the fan exploded. The show’s director Christopher Luscombe and staff director Guy Unsworth were present and both roared with laughter, calling it a pure Frank Spencer moment. A seed was sown and Guy sought out Raymond Allen: the writer of the original TV series. It transpired that Allen was a big fan of Joe’s and Unsworth set about writing a script. Now, two years, several script edits and three workshops later, the show is underway.
“We have been working really hard on it, Guy in particular,” says Joe. “He suggests the smallest change; a tiny nuance to get the comedy out of a line, and he’s always right. He’s also a real historian on British comedy. I think he’ll be one of the biggest directors in the West End.”
Touring Some Mothers promises to be a lot easier than Joe’s stand-up show.
“I usually do 40 one-nighters at different theatres. A week in one place will be like a holiday,” he said. “I live in Kent so Bromley is close enough for me to be at home, which will be lovely. The theatre is lovely and the people there are really great too.”
“The world is a miserable place sometimes and we need to empty our bins, mentally. The only way to do that is release some laughter and you’ll laugh for two hours solidly at this, I promise.”
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is at the Churchill Theatre, High Street, Bromley, BR1 1HA, from March 13 – 17. Admission: £22.00-38.50. Phone: 020 3285 6000. www.churchilltheatre.co.uk