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The Great British Bake Off tent is welcoming some very special celebrity bakers for five new episodes of The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off for Channel 4. In each episode four celebrities will battle it out over three rounds in a bid to be crowned Star Baker.
The celebrities facing the signature, technical and show-stopper challenges are:
Musical comedian Tim Minchin, actress, author and Host/Creator of the YouTube channel Hatching ChangeTeri Hatcher, TV presenter Stacey Solomon, Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party Ruth Davidson, comedian, writer and actress Roisin Conaty, singer songwriter Ricky Wilson, Diversity’s Perri Kiely, TV presenter Nick Hewer, broadcaster Melanie Sykes, actor Martin Kemp, comedian Lee Mack, Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox, comedian Joe Lycett, Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing, comedian Harry Hill, comedian, actor and presenter Griff Rhys Jones, singer Ella Eyre, journalist and presenter Bill Turnbull, comedian Alan Carr and comedian and actor Aisling Bea.
Prue and Paul will be judging the celebrities bakes, be they delicious delights or devastating disasters and Bake Off hosts Noel and Sandi will also be back to provide tea and sympathy for the celebrity bakers going head to head in the pressure-filled tent.
Stand Up To Cancer is a joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4. The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer will air later this year.
About Stand Up To Cancer (UK)
Hadley Freeman | 24 April 2016 | The Guardian
Fear and self-loathing … Julian Barratt in the Flask pub, in London. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
“Depressive”, “intense” and “awkward” are the most common adjectives used by the press to describe the comedian, musician and actor Julian Barratt. But none of those words actually fits the sweetly shambling man I find having a pot of tea on his own in the Highgate pub near his home in London. Instead, the adjective that comes to my mind upon spotting him in his high-waisted cotton trousers, mismatched jacket and skew-whiff hair is “gentle”.
Unlike his comedy partner Noel Fielding – with whom he made the surreal TV series The Mighty Boosh – Barratt has never seemed all that comfortable in the spotlight, which explains the slightly bemused descriptions of him. It’s true that, after he realises the photographer and I are already at the pub when he thought he would have half an hour to himself, he does take his teapot and flee to a table as far from us as possible. But once the PR person does finally drag him over, he is as amenable as a lamb, willingly striking whatever pose the photographer asks and, afterwards, striding towards me with a grin that verges on goofy.
This, it turns out, is not because he especially wants to talk about his latest project. Rather, he wants to discuss twins. Barratt has eight-year-old boys, Walter and Arthur, with his partner, fellow comedian and actor Julia Davis. The Guardian photographer mentions to him that I recently had twins, too, and before I can even introduce myself properly he’s asking about them and eagerly looking at photos.
“My life is divided up into before I had kids and after,” he says, and it is pretty obvious which he prefers. Barratt may be the first person I have interviewed who so clearly prefers to talk about his personal life rather than his work. When he mentions his boys, he can’t hide his delight but, after 10 minutes of the two of us swapping twin tales, I say we ought to talk about Flowers, a six-part drama/black comedy on Channel 4 in which he co-stars with Olivia Colman. Barratt’s face visibly falls: “OK, yes, yes, right. Sure. I haven’t seen the show, but yes, go ahead,” he replies, his body anxiously twisting in his seat.
The reason he hasn’t seen it is because Barratt – predictably – hates to watch himself on screen. It just feels, he says, “weird and painful and strange”. He is not wild about doing standup, either. Last year, he decided to dip his toe back into that again and remembered, too late, that he hated it. “It’s the thing of being on a bill,” he says, almost spitting out the last two words. “I was never any good at fitting in on a bill, and the tone is set by whoever went before. So I shot myself in the foot, really …”
Of course, he could always focus on his writing, but just the word makes him wince. “It sort of drives you insane, writing on your own, doesn’t it? Because your self-worth is really brought into the light that way. I have trouble keeping a lid on the self-hatred,” he says.
He can’t even go down the usual route for comedians today of appearing on panel shows. “I wish I could,” he says, sounding genuinely anguished about his inability to get into the swing of things on 8 Out of 10 Cats. “I think that – because of how my face looks – people take it as a dissing of the whole process. I’d love to have the ease on those shows that Noel has. But I have such a difficult relationship with that environment, so I don’t know …”
This all makes Barratt sound absurdly gloomy, but he leavens the misery with plenty of self-deprecating laughter, and – for someone who sounds so down on himself – he is extremely warm and amusing company. But given that, in Flowers, he is playing a creative man who finds work a struggle, is the father of twins and is possibly depressed, it is hard to resist asking if he found a personal connection to the show, and I don’t resist.
Watching himself on TV is ‘weird, painful and strange’ … Barratt with Colman in Flowers. Photograph: Des Willie/Channel 4
“Right, right, yes, no, that was very, um …” is his somewhat nonplussed reply, and I don’t really blame him. In the show, he and Colman, who plays his wife, have a miserably open marriage and all the members of the family betray and abandon one another at different points. So it is understandable if he would rather not draw too many similarities between that family and his own.
“[The characters] are pretty dysfunctional, and hopefully we won’t get to that point,” he says, but then can’t resist following the idea through. “Of course, there are times when you find yourself unable to cope and wondering what would happen if you just ran away. But no, I just enjoyed the script, and I liked the idea of the man sort of locked in his own world.”
That is a pretty good description of Barratt’s character in The Mighty Boosh. As Howard Moon, the zookeeper and wannabe jazz musician, he lived in a fantasy world created by his own vanity. An even more obvious comparison is Dan Ashcroft, the self-loathing journalist who hates himself only marginally more than he hates the ridiculous hipster world he documents for Sugar Ape magazine, in Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker’s astonishingly prescient 2005 show Nathan Barley.
“Just the other day I was watching a documentary about something called Unicorns, who are people dress up and have orgies and try to maintain a Burning Man vibe in London. It was quite sad, and I thought, ‘That’s quite Nathan Barley,’” Barratt says. The unicorn documentary was, of course, on vice.com, which was itself the inspiration for Sugar Ape magazine.
“And Vice is doing really well, isn’t it? The idiots have won, I think the line was,” Barratt smiles.
Fast friends … Barratt and Fielding in The Mighty Boosh. Photograph: BBC/Baby Cow Productions
But it’s The Mighty Boosh – the long-running live show that became a 2004-2007 TV series – for which Barratt is still best known. Radio Times recently claimed thathe and Fielding were to “reunite for a new project”, and the story was picked up nationwide. This, sadly, turned out to be wishful thinking – all Barratt said was that he would like to write with Fielding again – but the eagerness with which the story took off reflects the affection in which the Boosh is still held. Barratt recently developed a deeper fondness for it when he showed it to his sons.
“They don’t like it when they see me getting beaten up by a kangaroo, but I hear them talking about it and they seem proud. And that’s nice,” he says.
Barratt, 47, grew up in Leeds, the son of a teacher and a market researcher. He initially thought he’d be a musician and set off as a teenager to pursue that dream: “You know the well-known saying: leave home at 17 and make your fortune in London as a jazz drummer,” he says drily. This, after various detours, led him to comedy, where he met Fielding, and the two bonded over a shared love of Vic and Bob. While he and Fielding always seemed absurdly different – Barratt all shy nerviness and Fielding the glitter-sprinkled party monster – they are still close friends, even living on the same street, and he talks about him with brotherly fondness.
The only time Barratt looks happy discussing work is when we are on the subject of his two favourite collaborators: Fielding and Davis. He and Davis met through work, and while they don’t tend to work together now because of childcare arrangements, they still show one another everything they are working on: “She’s pretty honest, so I trust her judgment,” he says, and when I ask about his favourite comedies, he lists one of hers, Hunderby.
If Davis provides reassurance, Fielding brings the fun. Finding a sympathetic collaborator silenced the self-loathing.
“Me and Noel went to HBO once and pitched this really ludicrous idea about us driving around in a haunted car and they just stared at us. Literally stared at us! It was awful,” he says, still a little horror-struck. “Luckily, we were together so we could laugh about it, but if we were on our own it would have been one of the worst moments ever.” And the memory of the two of them laughing together makes him laugh again.
The interview is over, to Barratt’s obvious relief and, instead of making shows for HBO, Barratt is going to spend the rest of this afternoon drinking tea and waiting to pick up his boys from school. He could not look more content about this.
The six-part series Flowers starts 25 April (2016) on Channel 4.
ShortList sat down with comedian, writer and actor Julian Barratt to have a quiet chinwag.
A great deal of Mindhorn was filmed on the Isle of Man. How was the isle?
Yeah, weird. Windswept and isolated. Like a lot of English resorts, it has that flavour of sadness. Behind the eyes there’s a howling emptiness.
Reminiscent of Howard Moon.
Sad. Delusional. There’s a pattern emerging.
Are you much more at home playing deluded men?
I just haven’t got a plan with acting at all. I just know that I’m quite good at something and I can be terrible at other things. For comedy I think that’s quite good: someone who thinks they’re better than they are or has a lot of thwarted dreams – which we all do. We wrote it [Mindhorn] and initially I was thinking, “Oh I don’t necessarily want to be in this.”
It’s hard to imagine the character not being played by you.
I was thinking we could find a big actor to send themselves up. David Suchet. Ben Kingsley.
Suchet’s a curveball.
Some of his stuff was inspiration [for the TV detective Richard Thorncroft in Mindhorn]. There’s one Desert Island Discs he did which I thought was quite brilliant. A lot of talking about the process, that’s what I found quite funny.
Was it intentionally funny?
Er, no. One of the inspirations was something Suchet said about forgetting who he was after a play; not remembering where he lived or what his wife’s name was. He had to have a psychotherapist talk him out of character because he was so deep in. It’s hard to talk about acting without sounding like a pretentious fool or pretending not to be pretentious – like “It’s just a job of work. Plumbers go to work, they fix pipes. I fix characters.”
Have you had any particularly bad auditions?
I’m terrible at them. Having to ride a horse – pretend to ride a horse – that was pretty bad. I remember one where I had to play a rapist. I thought, this is gonna be good, it’s a bit of a departure. And then the person I was doing it to was a really sweet old lady behind the camera. So I was having to say all these horrific abusive things to a really sweet old lady. It was awful.
If Channel 4 had come to you to present Bake Off, what would you have said?
I don’t know what it is. I got The Daily Mail and Noel was on the front of it; I thought, “Oh no, what’s he done?” I think they called him a drug-taking comedian.
What do you think your prefix would be?
Er…“miserable, slightly pretentious”.
And if you were presenting, who would you like to have had as a partner?
I would host it with one of the Chuckle Brothers, probably.
Paul Chuckle has an astonishing Twitter presence. I’d recommend it.
Does he? Who’s the other one?
Strictly speaking, Paul and Barry Elliott.
Oh wow, you know a lot about the Chuckle Brothers.
Has anyone spoken to you about…
Yes. That’s why I’m here. No, Howard Moon and the La La Land connection.
No, what’s that?
There are memes comparing Howard Moon and Ryan Gosling’s La La Land character, both of them forcing people to like jazz.
I love that film. I thought it was great fun. I have friends who hate it, and same with Whiplash: “No one plays like that. You can’t do that. It’s not possible.” They bring in all their jazz theories.
You’re not a jazz purist, then?
No, not at all. I sort of romanticise that era of jazz – the 40s and 50s, when it was the modern music. No one had heard anything like it. You can’t really make it like that now. I think jazz is a shortcut, isn’t it, for a certain type of person who’s a little bit lost or a bit deluded. I remember taking it to school and playing it on a tape and just seeing almost hatred coming off people as to why I was playing them this utter noise.
In an interview recently you mentioned pitching to HBO a show in which you and Noel drove around in a haunted car. Can you elaborate?
We were feeling pretty good; we were sort of known by some of the good people over there. So we went to this HBO meeting slightly cocky. We wanted to travel around a bit in a car. We thought, let’s get Jim Jarmusch to film it, black and white. Noel’s face looks good in black and white. I’d be in colour, obviously. The car would be haunted. We went in like, “Do you want a piece of us? This is who we are. We’ve got this car idea; haven’t really thought it through, but do we need to?” And it was just silence – like some of the early gigs we’d done, where you go into a room and you just get it wrong at the beginning. It’s a bit like going into a room underneath the carpet. Then you’re under the carpet, and you can’t get out. You’re just a lump moving around. After, we were like, “Ha! Idiots. What do they know.”
“Who’s heard of HBO?”
Exactly. What have they ever done.
The Scotsman | 23 March 2006
Tomorrow night and again on Saturday, the surreal funnymen bring the characters from their bizarre BBC sitcom to life on the stage of the Festival Theatre.But as Barratt is quick to point out, the pair are no strangers to the city, having first worked here in 1997, when they appeared in one of comedian Stewart Lee’s Fringe shows.“Edinburgh was very important to us because that was the first time we ever worked together,” confirms Barratt.“Before we did our own show, we were in one of Stewart Lee’s called King Dong versus Moby Dick. Noel and I used to do a little bit of banter in the show, and it was different every night. That was our first time on stage together, so that was where a lot of it started.“The next year we went up to Edinburgh with our own show, and that was the first time that we ever tried to do anything ourselves."We worked on it a bit in London and then we did it in Edinburgh and it worked very well.” That first show, entitled The Mighty Boosh, featured the pair’s signature characters, zoo-keepers Vince Noir and Howard Moon, and won the coveted Perrier Award for Best Newcomer.
Two further Fringe shows – Arctic Boosh in 1999 and Auto Boosh in 2000 – established Barratt and Fielding, until then solo stand-up performers, as one of comedy’s hottest and most innovative new acts.
A year later they were commissioned to write and star in their own six-part series for Radio 4. Called The Boosh, it charted the adventures of the young Vince and Howard. In 2004 they got their big TV break with The Mighty Boosh for BBC THREE, a series that proved so popular it was repeated on BBC2 a short time later.
Described by Barratt as “Mr Benn with beats”, that first series found Vince and Howard working at Zoo-Niverse, where each week they embarked on an exciting magical, hilarious, adventure.
The series was immediately recommissioned for a second series in which Vince and Howard left the zoo behind in favour of a flat in Dalston, where their mystical adventures continued.
Making the transition from stage to screen was a challenge, admits Barratt, but one he is glad they made.
“The transition from stage to TV was quite a big one, but the way we write never changes. We still have to sit in a room and hammer out the ideas no matter how famous we are. It doesn’t get any easier.
"I think writing for TV came more naturally to me. Noel was always really into the live stuff and still is, whereas I always wanted to do film and stuff like that. So I felt more like I was coming home to TV. It was always what I wanted to do.”
Like all the best double-acts, much of the success enjoyed by the Mighty Boosh has been a result of the chemistry between the 37-year-old Yorkshireman and his 32-year-old Cockney sidekick Fielding.
That same magical something that allowed the likes of Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies and Little Britain’s Matt Lucas and David Walliams to tower head and shoulders above the rest.
“That first time we worked together in Edinburgh, it was almost immediately apparent that we had a special chemistry,” says Barratt.
“We weren’t sure that it would because we both did sort of weird stand-up and thought that we might cancel each other out.
"But our particular types of weirdness fitted together quite easily and from the very first gig the on-stage thing between us was easy.
"Gradually as the years have gone by, we’ve come to realise just how rare that is.”
If Barratt and Fielding’s solo acts were considered to be weird, The Mighty Boosh is equally off-the-wall. So much so, it has often been said to defy description, although someone once called it a kind of “psychedelic George and Mildred”.
“When he’s getting dressed up I’m usually saying: ‘Hurry up, we’ve got to be out of here’. It’s quite old fashioned really,” Barratt quipped.
“We do shout at each other, get a bit angry and strop off. But we make up immediately. It only happens if we’re tired or have been locked in together for seven weeks. I mean, I probably see Noel more than anyone. He even creeps into my dreams, his pointy little face haunts me in my sleep. Am I ever going to be safe?”
The Scotsman | 16 December 2007
First he has flu, then a bad hangover (too late a night out with his friend Johnny Borrell of Razorlight), and then sudden work commitments on Never Mind the Buzzcocks (sitting in for team captain Bill Bailey). But when I do get to meet him, there’s something so sweetly guileless and unguarded about this 34-year-old, you can’t possibly be cross. Taking offence at Fielding’s lack of organisational skills would be like minding that a four-year-old forgets his school satchel
He sidles into the caf with that ridiculous, sexy, haircut and long ski-jump nose (“My dad’s French and he’s got a similar one, it’s just a Romany, Frenchy sort of nose”), wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, skintight jeans and pointy silver boots, like a big glam-rock pixie. Busy, then? I ask him.
“It feels like I’m being raped,” he whispers. “I’m getting, like, 100 phone calls a week, 20 of which are asking me to DJ, another 20 asking me to a party, 20 to this or that opening; loads more to do charity gigs. I don’t even know how these people get my number.” He pauses, adjusts his hair (he does that a lot), and thinks. “I suppose I give it out when I’m drunk. Some must be friends of friends.”
The Mighty Boosh is one of those comedy shows with a strict door policy. You either love it or you don’t get it; it’s the antithesis of hyperreal sitcoms such as The Office. Fielding and Barratt first created the Boosh as a stage show – starring themselves as happy-go-lucky Vince Noir and twitchy, ill-fated Howard Moon – then put it on the radio and eventually, with Steve Coogan’s backing, took it to BBC3. On one level it’s quite a difficult show – multi-layered, with recurring themes, impossible to dip in and out of – and on the other, it’s childishly simple, with its nonsense songs, dreamlike adventures and innocent weirdness.
Above all the Boosh works because of the charisma of Barratt and Fielding. Not since the heydays of Rob Newman or Eddie Izzard have comedians inspired such worshipful legions of fans. These days, it’s impossible for Fielding, with that immediately recognisable face, to walk down the street without being followed or cat-called. “I’ve tried everything,” he sighs. “I wear a moustache and a baseball cap and I still get recognised. It’s easier for Julian; he can blend in a bit more. I’ll be standing right next to him in a pub, and someone will come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you’re in the Boosh, you’re great. Where’s your mate?’ And I’ll say: ‘He’s there!’ And they’ll look and say, ‘Oh yeah.’”
The problem is, Fielding loves going out. In a club, he’s a magnet for knicker-throwing fans and, outside, as he spills on to the pavement, for paparazzi. He’s the new Russell Brand, more rock’n’roll than most rock stars, often “spotted”, on the arm of this or that lovely (Courtney Love, Kimberly Stewart, Pixie or Peaches Geldof).
“These past two years have been the best of my life and also the worst. It’s a nightmare at times. It’s like, getting chatted up 1,000 times a year. Just weird. You know when a girl fancies you, or when you’ve got a chance with a girl, and to have that from so many girls, for not doing anything specific, so regularly – it’s a bit of a headf***. Nothing prepares you for that. And you wouldn’t believe how blatant they are! I was never that blatant when I was their age.” He has a girlfriend, too – the vocalist in the band Robots in Disguise, who goes by the stage-name Dee Plume. They’ve been a couple for “about four years” and live together in Kentish Town.
Poor old Dee, then. “Yeah. I’d hate it. You have to be very careful. I’m not whiter than white, and if you’re going to go out and get drunk and party, and get offered all these things, you have to make sure the boundaries don’t get blurred. You have to be careful that you don’t stop working, or hurt the people you love.
“Dee calls me The Little Prince because I get everything I want, and it’s a joke, but there’s an element of truth to it. It’s like it’s my birthday every single day. All these people asking, ‘Do you want drugs? Do you want girls? Do you want drink?’ Then there are all these famous people, and you think: oh that’s quite interesting, I wonder what they’re like, and you hang out with them. You know, you just want to have a look. The problem is, once you get famous too, and if you’re quite naïve like me, you don’t realise that if you hang out with someone, and you’re a boy and they’re a girl, that’s it. That’s enough.”
One story had Fielding and Love trashing a hotel room “like wild animals”. “Amazing! She smoked a couple of cigarettes and we had a cup of peppermint tea. I mean, that’s what happened. We had tea.”
Fielding likes tea. It’s one of the reasons, he says, that he’s decided to hold his first solo art exhibition above a London teashop. He’s been painting off and on for years – it’s his extraordinary visual imagination that defines the look of The Mighty Boosh – but he’s nervous about the unveiling of such personal work.
His art is surprisingly beautiful, very Boosh-like: gorgeously colourful and technically accomplished. He’s inspired by Rousseau’s jungle pictures and Basquiat’s early mask-like faces and skeletons, by bits of Pop Art or children’s storybooks. Imagine an ounce of Roy Lichtenstein, a bit of Magritte, and a dollop of Maurice Sendak.
Growing up, Fielding always thought he’d be an artist, and probably a famous one. “It didn’t occur to me until I was quite old that I might not be famous.” He stops and laughs. “That’s totally ridiculous. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, just in a hippy, sheltered, nave sort of way.” He was raised in south-east London by exceptionally young parents. “My dad was about 18, maybe 17, when they had me. They used to have lots of parties and weird arty people around. My mum played the guitar and wrote poetry, and they were both very funny. It was one of those childhoods where you get up and there’s 20 people asleep on the floor and you have to step over them to get your breakfast; one of those houses where you didn’t have to eat if you didn’t want to, and you never really got sent to bed. I’d come down in my pyjamas and there’d be a party going on, and no-one’s like, ‘Go back upstairs!’”
His parents grew out of their hippy-ishness: his dad became a manager for the Post Office and his mum works for the Home Office. “But it was great. They were really tolerant of noise and mess. If I asked my dad to play football, he wouldn’t do it for 20 minutes, like most dads, he’d play with me for hours.” Fielding was a really good footballer: he played semi-professionally for Kingstonian and Sutton Utd, and had trials for Spurs and Crystal Palace.
But football didn’t mix with art, and Fielding decided to go to Croydon Art College instead. There he started to do the odd stand-up spot – as Jesus doing Mick Jagger impressions. It wasn’t a long-lived act. “I thought I can’t be Jesus all the time, it’s ridiculous. There’s no real reason to be Jesus – it wasn’t like I was making any point about religion. Which is probably why it wasn’t very offensive.”
Eventually, he and Barratt appeared on the same bill at a pub in London and recognised in each other a kindred spirit. The Boosh was born.
The BBC wants them to do a fourth series, but Fielding says they’ve got to pay them more. “Julian and I work about a year and a half on each series. I mean, this (third] series is the best we’ve ever done, we’re proud of it, but it’s difficult to make a living when we’re working that long on it. And we stretched the crew’s goodwill to breaking point. They don’t sleep for three months. We need a bit more money to make it nicer for those people.” He says he’s earned more in two months of panel shows than he does in 18 months of making the Boosh.
“I’m always surprised when people call our stuff weird,” he says, as we step outside on to the Soho streets where a teenage girl in fake fur swoons and reaches for her mobile phone. “I always think people can cope with stuff, but a lot of them just go: ‘What the f*** are you doing?’ For me, for example, to have a merman in the Boosh, with a vagina, and with light coming out of it – I don’t get freaked out by that, but I also don’t want to know what it means. I don’t want to analyse it. It’s not overloaded with meaning.”
Interview by Joey Eyebank | Cambridge Barfly 6th February 2008
I rush off the bus with questions in mind in a hurry to meet Robots in Disguise’s tour managers deadline of a 6’o clock interview, but as soon as I sprint to the front of the Barfly I get a call; “Oh um sorry RiD are running a bit late on their sound check could you meet us in about an hour or half, “I kindly reply "yeah, sure” in order to give a good impression that I’m a suave journalist who has plenty of wasteable time and in fact has other things to do because I have a lot of paperwork. This is not however the case so I instead go mad for money in Staples, Highlighters, felt tips, biros, pencils, sharpeners, sellotape and odd bits ‘n’ bobs.
RiD’s promotional leaflet referred to them as being DIY types so I buy a gun hole punch and a table attachable pen as presents for the girls, I use the promo leaflet I got sent for much of my research for the questions I ask later on in the interview, but it later turns out that PR company “Infected’s” information on the girls is “infected” with internet fuelled junk.
Later after wading through the crowds of fluorescent bright coloured 13 year olds girls with strange “electro pop” glitter make up applied like war paint (which signifies a sense of cult like “troop” to these girls), I enter the RiD’s backstage lair. At first it takes about 2 minutes for them to realise I’m standing in the room awkwardly introducing myself. Sue Denim however seems to be very cheerful and talkative; the other 2, being Dee Plume (Vocals/guitarist and Noel Fielding’s girlfriend) who seems to be busy away knitting at a green scarf and the seemingly monosyllabic (but probably lovely) Ann Droid whom is busy myspacing.
Joey: How have Robots in Disguise progressed since the LeTigre gig?
Sue Denim: LeTigre?
Joey: Yeah the one that you “met at”!
Sue: (sarcastically) Oh yeah the one that we met at!
Dee Plume: No we didn’t really meet at a LeTigre gig; we’ve been there a few times but no.
Sue: Faulty information.
*Joe curses the “promotional leaflet” he got sent by their PR*
Joey: Tell us a little bit about your single “The sex has made me stupid”?
Dee: Well it’s just simply about some of the distractions like sex and drugs, and that’s it really.
Joey: Who or what have been your main influences for this album, lyrically etc?
Sue: Berlin’s been a big influence uh….. places have been more influential then any other artist for this album. Botswana, Brazil, Belgium
Dee: Basically places beginning with B have been really influential
Joey: You do quite a lot for the Mighty Boosh as well...
Dee and Sue at the same time in a northern accent: Oh we do do quite a lot for the Mighty Boosh!!!!
How did you get to know Noel and Julian?
Dee: Through friends in Camden really, we performed in this place in Camden called the “Hen and Chickens” and we did a short sketch with them so they signed a part for us, and that’s it really.
Joey: Have you got any other plans with the Boosh?
Sue: Well we were all going to bake a cake together .
Dee: We might be playing there after show as well and we might actually be playing with them live though because they’ve got a live tour coming up.
Joey: How would you describe your sound to a Burberry wearing brain dead alien, suffering from amnesia?
Sue: Wouldn’t bother if they were brain dead and suffering from amnesia! We’d probably just play the songs to them, then they could actually make up their own mind about what it sounds like.
Dee: Argh god do you know what, I think I’ve left my bionic toothbrush in the travellodge.
Sue: Oh yeah actually I saw that on the table in the bathroom.
Dee: Why didn’t you tell me.
Sue: I thought you’d pick it up!
Dee: Oh shit, what am I going to do now, what am I going to do. I’m going to have yellow teeth.
Sue: I have a spare one in my travel pack; you can borrow that one if you want.
Dee: I want my bionic one though, argh.
Sue: You see Robots are all about Bionic toothbrushes.
Joey: What’s a Bionic toothbrush?
Sue: It’s just a magic toothbrush, the answer to life they are really.
Dee: I don’t really know how it works to be honest, you just sort of wet it and then its supposed to like attract bacteria.
Joey: How are you feeling about tonight?
Sue: No we played here before, it was good fun.
Dee: Yeah we walked over the bridge in Cambridge, its been a really picturesque day and we walked beside the river. It was the CAMbridge so I think it’s the proper one that goes over the River Cam.
Sue: The original bridge.
Joey: What does the future have in store for Robots?
Sue: More touring, we’re supposed to be playing south by south west and then we’re going to France and Spain, just a lot of gigging.
Dee: And we have quite a cult following in France, well we started in France.
Joey: Your label’s French as well isn’t it?
Dee and Sue: No
Sue: It was but they owe us loads of money.
Joey: Seeing as your name is taken from “Transformers” did you think about doing a theme tune for the new movie adaptation of Transformers that came out recently?
Dee: I haven’t seen the film yet actually, I’ve heard that the first twenty minutes are good and then the rest is shit!
Joey: No it’s not that good, it’s kind of just mainly focused around this bimbo and the storyline is flimsy.
Dee: Well you’re the critic. (laughs)
Joey: How do you feel about some of the current bands at the moment, be it electro, indie, pop, rock?
Dee: I feel good that bands are making money through playing live, because we never really made money from that, and our live thing is like a big part of what we do. You can sort of be your own thing and develop it in this industry now which I think is good!
(Continues to knit a green scarf)
Joey: Will you be bringing the unicorn horn out tonight?
Sue: No, that’s just a thing that I do in Berlin I think the unicorn’s locked up over there.
Joey: How much are Neon, Ultra, Anthrax and Ebola (Mighty Boosh characters they played) related to you as people?
Sue: Well they’re just caricatures aren’t they, I suppose they are a side of us, but we’re not that one dimensional, and also those characters are pretty harsh which doesn’t much relate to us!
Dee: We’d never have boys in our band as well.
Joey: Yeah that feminist image does come strongly in Robots image doesn’t it?
Dee: Yeah it’s good, because we’ve always thought of rock music as quite male dominated and since we burst onto the scene it’s been good to see so many girls rocking out at our gigs making the boys feel more of a minority.
Sue: And also I think one of the reasons we inspire so many girls at our shows is because we inspire our fans to dress up by having this DIY kind of image and then it makes all of the fans a part of it as in a kind of cult way and they can relate to it as well. We change our style very often as well.
Dee: We’ve also always thought about ourselves as a punk band as so many of the bands that were from the punk scene were female dominated, we think of punk as a very feminist genre.
Joey: And lastly a question about cereal, Shreddies or Weetabix?
(Due to my some what grumbley accent they mistake wheetabix for wheatex and ponder over what I said for abit)
Dee: I prefer wheatabix.
Sue: Yeah Weetabix It is, but I like the mini ones with the fruit and nut.
Isabel Albiston | The Telegraph
I had just left university, where I studied fine art, when I was spotted by a model scout in London. It was 1996. I was in Portobello Road with some friends when a woman came up to me and said, “Can I take you Polaroid? It’s for Calvin Klein.” I was surprised. I was ill with hepatitis so I was about seven stone and a bit yellow, which probably helped. I didn’t think anything would come of it, but then I got a letter saying that for three months Calvin Klein had been looking for a model for a new campaign. I was in the final 10 and could I come in and have some photos taken. At that time I was on the dole and the people behind the campaign told me there would be a lot of money and that it would be shot in Paris, Milan and New York, so I really wanted to get it. I was chuffed when I did.
I was flown to Milan, where we traveled around in a glass helicopter with pink neon blades. The first show I modelled in was also the most memorable. Klein had come up with a jungle theme. The whole place was covered in leaves and tropical plants, and butterflies had been released into the venue. The raised catwalk was made out of logs, and there was a river along each side of the runway. The audience sat in huge canoes and we walked down the middle.
There were also some wild animals, supposedly in cages, but one of the tigers escaped and attacked Claudia Schiffer while she was getting changes backstage. She beat it off with a glass of champagne and it took five people to restrain the beast. I wore a suit made from jungle foliage, with hipsters made from palm leaves and a tall witch’s hat made from vines.
Backstage at a show the designer would be frantic. Some of the people I modelled for were still finishing the clothes in the 30 seconds before I went out on to the catwalk. One time I was wearing a while Clockwork Orange-type suit with some really nice suede boots and my face was painted blue – it was a good look, actually. I didn’t realise that the suit was still being sewn up at the back as I was putting it on, so I walked down the catwalk dragging with me not only the sewing machine, but also the woman sitting at it finishing the seams. She came up and down the runway and I think she enjoyed it. People took photographs and she said it wad an experience she would never forget.
When I was spotted by the scout in Portobello Road I was already doing comedy. I was tried some stand-up on the catwalk, but it went down really badly. Patti Smith was the only on laughing. For a while, I considered giving up comedy altogether to concentrate on modelling. There was endless champagne – champagne lollies were the only solids we’d eat – and the money was incredible. At the end of a show the designer would empty a suitcase of cash over the top of our heads and we’d have to scramble around on the floor filling our pockets with money. But after two months as a model I met my comedy partner Julian Barratt and I gave up the fashion world to create the Mighty Boosh.
Julian was hanging around outside one of the London shows, eyeing up the models, and I saw him peering in. He thought I was a lady and asked me out for dinner, so we went to the Ivy with a few other models and then went to Soho House, where we drank Bellinis and danced naked on the roof. Julian knew I had something and took me to one side. He said, “This life’s OK but it’s not for you. You’ve got to do something more substantial.”
I remember that, as the other models Kate, Evo, and Sapphire got into their limousine, I waved them goodbye and said, “I think I’m going to do comedy for a bit.” They said, “If you get bored, there’s always a place for you on the runway.” As the electric window went up, an empty champagne glass flew out and shattered on the pavement and I knew it was over for me.
I did get to keep some of the clothes, though. I’ve still got a sack that I wore when we were doing the peasant look (my face was covered in flour for that show). I don’t wear it, it in the pantry and I keep potatoes in it now. And I have a foil cowboy hat that Calvin Klein fashioned for me using KitKat wrappers to show me the correct structure of a cowboy hat.
Two years later (1998) our show The Mighty Boosh won the Perrier newcomer award at Edinburgh and I knew I’d made the right choice. We were nominated for the Perrier prize again the next year and now we’ve done a couple of television series. If I hadn’t given up modelling I’d be living in a castle, hanging out with model and designers and drinking champagne. That stuff’s alright, but I love travelling around the country in a tour bus with four sweaty men. I’m still in touch with some of the models and I’m hoping they’ll come to our London show later this month.