Spotlight On… Star of Sky One’s Trollied, Stephen Tompkinson

Trollied came back with a brand new series on Sky One at 9.00 pm on Monday 7 November and with Sky’s kind permission, I have had the great pleasure of interviewing a number of the cast members. So, let’s see what Stephen Tompkinson who plays Brian in the show had to say about the new series…

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Stephen, what can we expect from Brian in the new series of Trollied?

Ah, Brian, the psychopathic Pharmacist that we all know and love! He’s as mad as ever, partly because he’s permanently tortured in his private life, his brother, his wife and his kids are all doctors and he’s the only one who’s a Pharmacist. In order to out-do those at home he comes out with outrageous medical theories which have no basis of medical back-up whatsoever. So that’s still going on and he’s still absolutely joined at the hip with Margaret (Rita May). They have become rather dependent on each other, they’re like a mother and son really, they have a deep love. This series, Margaret got addicted to scratch cards and it was Dr Brian who bailed her out! Meanwhile, Gavin’s on this healthy food drive so Brian is straight in there with the idea of doing a medical demonstration with something gruesome from a pathology lab so that he can show the customers how dangerous fatty foods can be. Later on in the series, Brian answers a phone-in on a radio station, he becomes a bit of a radio hit, something of a shock jock! So, suddenly he is being offered something more permanent on the radio and he’s outgrown Valco. However, he begins to miss Margaret and comes back to find that they have a replacement, so he toys with whether he’s made the right decision or not.

You have become a great comedy double act with Rita May who plays Margaret, what’s it like working with her?

I have worked with her before, I first got to work with her in a series called In Deep. It’s lovely to work with her again.

What do you think works well on the series?

I feel what makes Trollied such a success is the fact that there’s such a great team of writers. Even when you come in as a newcomer, the writers watch what an actor does with the character and write to their strengths. I always show an episode to my daughter and my partner, Elaine first and they think it’s the best series so far. We’ve worked with directors that we’ve worked with before and it feels like everyone is on top of their game.

Plus, they keep finding different areas of the supermarket to discover, Pharmacy was one that they’d never used before and it’s great that they found a new home for Margaret.

Did you watch the series before you joined?

I did and I knew Jason Watkins before I started working on the series as we were at drama school together and indeed on the football field together years ago! There was also a link with the Producer, he worked on Wild At Heart for years. I had also worked with Paul Harrison, the Director on Wild At Heart, before.

Would you be keen to do a seventh series if that was on the cards?

Oh yes, wild horses couldn’t drag me away. We have a great time filming and the set is wonderful, it’s the biggest set I’ve been on. We have no night shoots and we stay in one location. It’s the nearest things to a 9 to 5 job I’ve ever had.

Finally, what would you say to encourage viewers to carry on watching Trollied?

It’s going to get wilder and wackier, it’s a bit like Christmas, everything comes at once and you’ll feel bloated and happy at the end of it!

Thanks to Stephen for his time and a great interview, I agree that this series of Trollied is rather special.

Photo credit: Sky TV

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Avenue Q ~ Malvern Theatres

Reviewed by Helen McWilliams

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The latest tour of ‘Avenue Q’ has pitched up at Malvern Theatres, this week and it’s a ‘must see’ to cheer up dull autumnal nights. Premiering on Broadway in 2003, this innovative ‘adult’ musical has been delighting audiences ever since and last night’s performance only served to demonstrate that it remains as popular as ever and can also draw in new audiences, too.

It was my first time entering the world of ‘Avenue Q’ (cue innuendoes which would not be out of place in the script) I was familiar with the soundtrack and I’d seen a few scenes, already, but otherwise I had no idea what to expect from a musical containing adult themes from puppets. What I witnessed was a fast-paced cornucopia of talent as the skilled ensemble played out an honest and tantalisingly naughty tale.

The story revolves around Princeton (one of the puppets, performing courtesy of the superb Richard Lowe) who has moved to ‘Avenue Q’ to find his purpose and along the way befriends fellow puppets;  Nicky, Rod, porn-obsessed Trekkie Monster and Katie Monster (who becomes Princeton’s love interest). Added to the mix are humans; Christmas Eve (a Japanese therapist with no clients), her fiancé Brian (a wannabe comedian) and Gary Coleman from ‘Different Strokes'(!). What ensues is a chaotic meander through their lives which includes unemployment, the use of the internet, requited or unrequited love and input from the bad idea bears (they’re right, beer is always a good idea – isn’t it?) and Lucy the Slut (a favourite of Trekkie Monster’s from porn films!).

Moving the show along are numbers such as ‘It Sucks To Be Me’, ‘If You Were Gay’, ‘The Internet Is For Porn’ and the more subtle ‘There’s a Fine, Fine Line’. All of the tunes are catchy, mostly with smutty under-tones (some more overt than others!) and it’s an overall laugh-a-minute piece of theatre. Joining Richard Lowe, who also works with Rod, is Sarah Harlington who seamlessly swaps between Katie Monster and Lucy the Slut and has an exceptional singing voice. Then there’s outstanding performances from Richard Morse as Brian and Arina II as Christmas Eve, as well as Stephen Arden who worked Trekkie Monster and Nicky in addition to one of the bad idea bears, no mean feat. Working in tandem (at certain times) with Arden was Jessica Parker, and the pair were in synch at all times, they were a formidable duo, indeed they demonstrated this even more so when they both play the bad idea bears.  A special mention must go to Etisyai Phillip who played Gary Coleman in act one and was a joy, it was a pity that she could not carry on with the show after the interval, but the role was in safe hands with Cleopatra Joseph who took over. Well done to both ladies!

The set is innovative in itself, it offers windows into each resident’s home and also turns into the nightclub which plays host to Lucy the Slut’s show. Congratulations to set designer, Richard Evans for creating such a ‘Pandora’s box’.

To book tickets to see the show in Malvern, please visit their website for details : http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/ or to find out where the subsequent stops are for ‘Avenue Q’ use this link: http://avenuequk.com/tour-dates

Please note this show is not suitable for Little Monsters!

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