Little Britain Interview

Post new topic   Reply to topic    Couchtripper Forum Index -> Comedy News
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2006 2:45 pm    Post subject: Little Britain Interview Reply with quote

A dirty old man fondled my leg
Senior Feature Writer
September 04, 2006

LITTLE Britain is very, very big. With three smash hit TV series and a sell-out tour behind them, David Walliams and Matt Lucas are now filming their Christmas special and planning another blockbuster tour. But life hasn?t always been so rosy. To coincide with the release of their new book, Inside Little Britain, David and Matt have given The Sun a startling insight into the troubled history of their comedy partnership and the secrets of their childhoods.

In Day One of a brilliant series, David recalls a childhood encounter with a dirty old man ? and how depression nearly cost him their big break. IN a central London studio, Matt and David are taking a break from rehearsals for their Christmas TV special ? but the laughter rarely stops. Something about one of his characters ? the outrageous former children?s entertainer Des Kaye ? reminds David of the time a ?dirty old man? fondled his leg after a scout master took him to a nudist camp.

His bizarre experience of the Sea Scouts, from the age of 11 to 14, is revealed in Matt and David?s new book Inside Little Britain. It is a diary of the pair?s phenomenally successful ten-month nationwide Little Britain stage tour, which began in October last year. But in parts it is also deeply confessional about aspects of their lives. Many people will be shocked by their frank revelations, and left uneasy about the Sea Scouts episode in particular.

Co-stars ... David and Matt Lucas

Talking exclusively to The Sun, David and Matt reveal they are now comfortable with episodes from their past and prefer to take a lighter view, concentrating on the happy times they are now enjoying.

Des Kaye?s favourite audience participation game, Hide The Sausage, may seem deeply suspect during their live show, but it is nothing compared to the antics of the scout masters David came into contact with as a child. The once-a-week gathering was run by two men for whom games meant bathtime ?fun?, where David and his young pals would run around while the men chased them and slapped their bottoms.

In the book David writes: ?It?s weird to think of it now, but they would do stuff like say, ?Now you?ve got to put this wetsuit on . . . it?s very tight-fitting, so you have to take your trunks off and we?ll have to rub some baby oil into you in order to slip it on.? ? David still grimaces at the thought. ?You wouldn?t get away with that now, but back then it just struck me as a bit weird,? he says.

David also tells the story of the time he forgot to bring his cagoule so one of the men in charge bent him over, ordered him to take down his pants and whacked him with a sail baton ?really, really hard?. He says: ?Now I would think, ?What right have you got to hit me ? you?re just a f***ing scout master!??

Graduation ... Bristol 1992

Then there was the time one of the leaders organised a special trip to Holland for six of the boys, including David, and they arrived at the campsite to find no one wearing any clothes. ?Yeah. It turned out to be a naturist camping site. So we spent the time naked, sleeping in the same tent.? David said: ?Now I haven?t read the scouting rules recently but I don?t think they include taking the boys to naturist camps!? On his return, David told his mother they had been to a nudist camp, but she did not believe him.

On the first night at the camp, he recalls, they were in a cafe when a naked man sat down next to them and David suddenly felt the man?s hand on his leg under the table. He said: ?I remember thinking it was quite weird but at that age you just don?t say, ?I?m sorry, what are you doing?? You kind of let the dirty old man feel up your leg.? Even now, at the age of 35, David wavers between finding the memories creepy or funny. But he is quick to say he was never abused and never found his Sea Scouts adventures overtly sexual. Just weird.

?It was just one of those things. A lot of people have experiences like that, where things happened as children and you just accepted it, and then in later life you look back and go, ?Hang on!? It?s not like I was traumatised by it. I have met up with a lot of people I was at Sea Scouts with and all we talk about is, ?Do you remember when this happened or that happened? That was a bit weird, wasn?t it??

University years ... David on stage in 1989

?Looking back on it now it was bizarre, but it was a more innocent time then, in the early 1980s. It was not the same environment as now where it is a lot more complicated. There are a lot more rules and regulations and there is a lot more anxiety about it.? David adds: ?It?s not like that was in any way the inspiration for Des Kaye. They are different ideas. But we talked about it on tour because I was in the Sea Scouts and it was all a bit suspect, and now we have got the quite suspect character of a kids? entertainer.?

At the age of 11, when he first took up acting at Reigate Grammar School, Surrey, David had already discovered he could get laughs from camp behaviour. When a boy who was to have played the Queen in the school play dropped out because he was embarrassed about wearing a wig and a dress, David jumped at the opportunity to play the role, and was thrilled to see his mum proudly pointing him out as he had the audience laughing. Fast forward 23 years and he now has audiences of more than 12,000 roaring with laughter as he and Matt dress as ?laydees? for their live stage show.

Sitting in their simple rehearsal studio, Matt says: ?People assume that as you play to bigger audiences, things become stressful or that we are at each other?s throats, but we are just having a lot of fun. When we talk in the book about our trials and troubles, that is all about our past lives and actually we both feel very lucky at the moment, and very grateful for all the people who come to see us and keep coming to see us.?

They brought out the book because they heard an unofficial biography was being produced and thought the truth would be better coming from them ? only to find that the unofficial biography was ?really boring? with ?nothing interesting in it at all?. David adds: ?We wanted to get the information out there and to be honest. If it comes from you I don?t think it can harm you.?

Characters ... wigs for Little Britains Lou and Anne

David went on to reveal Little Britain almost didn?t happen because of depression which landed him in hospital. Ironically, the illness struck just as he and Matt were enjoying their big professional break, finishing writing the first TV series of Little Britain and preparing to film it. For more than a year David struggled to sleep, and when he did he would wake in a cold sweat with nightmares. After nearly 12 months, he was starting to go mad. He was anxious, exhausted and even delusional. He was losing weight rapidly and it was starting to look like they would have to cancel the shoot, which left David even more distraught because he prided himself on being professional.

He had to book himself into a hospital and with a careful combination of good psychotherapy ? dealing with distressing events in his childhood that helped explain the way his mind worked ? anti-depressants and the help of good friends like Rob Brydon, David Baddiel and Morwenna Banks, he pulled through. David said: ?It is something that effects a lot of people. It does not make me special. It is just an illness you can get at certain times of your life if things go wrong and you get to a point of despair. You have got no love of life left. It was a very weird time to be experiencing it when we were about to make the show but that was probably a good thing for me ? that I had something to think about and work on. If I had been an out-of-work actor at that time it would have been really difficult.

Holiday ... David and family in 1974

?It was awful not having any enthusiasm but if you broke your arm you would go to the doctor, wouldn?t you? So if you are depressed and you can?t sleep you need to go to see the doctor and sort it out. It is really good we know enough about it now, that it is defined and people can seek treatment. Things got better for me personally and the series did well and things were all right. It was just a period in my life which now seems a long way away.?

The days of playing to ten drunks in Edinburgh seem a long way away too, as Matt and David prepare to release their book, a DVD of the tour, a third series DVD, launch a new tour and film their Christmas special.

?We are just enjoying every moment,? says Matt.

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2006 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Warts 'n all: Matt Lucas
September 05, 2006

Day Two, Matt reveals how he lost his hair and how he came to terms with his sexuality.

The first thing you notice about Matt is his bald head. You can?t help it. It was certainly the first thing his future comedy partner noticed, and David assumed it was why people found Matt funny. He soon found there was much more to Matt than just a funny face, and a hilarious double-act followed. But the truth is Matt has been bald even longer than he has been telling gags.

In their new book, Inside Little Britain, Matt reveals how, within six weeks, all his hair fell out shortly before his seventh birthday. His parents tried numerous treatments including homeopathy and acupuncture, and Matt?s dad even rubbed seaweed lotion into his son?s head to try to make the hair grow, but the lotion only ended up giving his father a rash on his hands.

Village person ... Matt, as Dafydd, the only gay around

The book is a diary of the duo?s phenomenal ten-month UK stage tour, which began in October last year. It is also a chance for both to reveal some the secrets of their past. During a break from rehearsing their Christmas TV special, Matt reveals how he has grown comfortable with his appearance and sexuality.

?I only look back on the past with fondness,? he says. He has had plenty of time to get used to how he looks. Even before his hair fell out, it was always straggly, like his Little Britain character Andy Pipkin, he says. Then, at the grand old age of six, he found himself completely bald. Today he still does not know if his sudden hair loss was delayed shock from a road accident he was involved in two years earlier, or simply because premature baldness runs in his family. His dad was bald by the age of 14. As well as the seaweed lotion, he underwent months of hospital remedies until his hair did grow back . . . then fell out again.

Matt reveals they didn?t do children?s wigs back then. The best he could get was a bouffant ladies? wig, trimmed to size. It might have given him the inspiration for some of his Little Britain characters, but it didn?t help much at the time. The youngster would either grow bored and remove the wig at primary school for a laugh, or older boys would snatch it from his head and throw it around. So he took to wearing a cap, which made him a celebrity at secondary school . . . and a natural for comedy roles. His baldness and confused sexuality were never a problem for him in the classroom.

Revelations ... Matt Lucas with Sun man Martin

?I was never bullied,? he says. Matt just fell into comedy because that was what he was good at. ?It?s not a defence. It?s financial, because I can?t do anything else,? he explains. ?As a kid I had things I loved, like football. But I?m 32 now and it?s plain I?m not going to make it as a footballer, though I?m still hoping. Some people at school excel at cross-country or maths. I was good at school plays. I would invariably do comic roles because I?m not romantic lead material.? But he did use his looks to his advantage. One of the first jokes Matt remembers telling was about his baldness. ?People often asked me: How did I lose my hair? It was through shock. Duncan Goodhew fell out of a tree. Well, it was my f***ing head he landed on!?

Matt took a little longer to come to terms with his sexuality. He first realised he had same-sex leanings at his same-sex school but assumed that, when he started meeting girls, he would end up fancying them instead, or as well. That didn?t happen so, until he was about 18, he was tortured by his feelings and did not talk about his sexuality until he was 19.

Partner ... Matt and Kevin arrive at Elton John's wedding

He credits his comedy partner with helping to ?kick me out of the closet.? For a man who is ambiguous about his own sexuality, David Walliams has dated some beautiful women and talks in the book about his unrequited love for a stunning former model who he names only as Miss X. ?I think we all have someone in our lives like that, don?t we?? says David. Matt, by his side, jokes: ?I?ve told you before that you don?t have to refer to me as Miss X. Though it does give me an air of mystique.?

David admits fame has made a lot of women suddenly ?attainable?, though Matt is quick to add: ?Her Majesty has yet to fall for your charms.? Matt and David first met when Matt was still coming to terms with being gay. He had told his closest friends but not his family.

Hair today ... Matt after he lost his locks aged six

Matt says: ?I think it helped me because I saw somebody to whom sexuality didn?t matter and spent a lot of time with somebody . . . who I knew would not care one way or another if I was gay. That was a confidence booster for me.? David, on at least one occasion, would introduce his friend to strangers saying: ?This is Matt. He?s gay.? Matt recalls: ?It was really funny. Like that was all I was. It was an ice-breaker and in tune with our comedy ? shocking but fun.?

Matt did get depressed at one stage and saw a therapist. which helped him to tell his mum he was gay. He says she was ?shocked and surprised? but now thinks Matt?s partner Kevin is a ?lovely boy?. ?I may not be able to give her babies but I can give her BAFTAs,? Matt jokes in the book. There should be more of those on the way. Even so, Matt says: ?I don?t think I have ever been more excited than on the opening night of a school play.? But Little Britain?s live shows must come close. Matt says: ?The tour started in 1,600-seater theatres and by the end we were playing to 12,000 some nights.?

Later this month the pair will be back on tour for a few months, finishing in London in December. It is all a far cry from their humble beginnings. Matt says: ?We started in a tiny theatre at the Edinburgh Festival, playing after midnight to really drunken audiences. But I can honestly say we felt like a hit when we were playing to ten people, if those people were laughing. We would look out and if we had ten people in the audience that was fine because there were no expectations. We weren?t famous and we had not been on telly. Why should anyone come to see us? Ten people was amazing.?

The advantage of their current success, he says, is that they no longer play theatres where the only way for the audience to go to the loo is to walk across the stage.

Little big man ... Matt on his bike before he lost his hair

So Matt and David no longer have to raise their act above the sound of the chain-flush toilet. ?So that?s quite nice. Obviously, if we want to go to the loo, we still have to walk across the stage,? Matt says. ?But if Little Britain had never happened we would still be in a room above a pub doing our show because that?s what we love. We have been completely taken aback by the success of the tour and by the end of the next tour we will have played more than 200 dates to more than 800,000 people. Every night it is the same excitement. It?s an amazing experience and we know you are not up there for ever. This is our time and we are really grateful to have had this experience. We are not under any illusions. Nothing lasts for ever so we have really got to savour it now ? and we do.?


I'll post the rest of this series of interviews as they're published
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
'Native New Yorker'

Joined: 29 Apr 2006
Location: FL USA

PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2006 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the interviews Face! I wonder if they will tour in America at all. I'd love to get tickets if they do. :star:
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address Yahoo Messenger
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Couchtripper Forum Index -> Comedy News All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You can attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum

Couchtripper - 2005-2015