Andrew Dipper

Interview: Seymour Mace

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AD: You’ve been in a couple of BBC sitcoms – Ideal and Hebburn. Let’s talk about Ideal first. You were killed off twice, in the first series and the sixth series…

SM: I was only supposed to be in the first series. They’d written a big cliff-hanger for the end of the series, but even though this cliff-hanger was a surprise to the characters, it had already been revealed to the audience in a previous episode – so it wasn’t a cliff-hanger anymore.

So they had to re-write it, and that’s when I believe they decided to bring my character back as twin brother of the initial character – the last scene being me turning up at the door looking for my dead brother.

AD: How did that role come about then?

SM: I’d just won the City Life Comedian of the Year in Manchester [in 2003], and the BBC had just set up the comedy department in Manchester – so the timing was right and they were looking for people to be in it. They wanted a few stand-ups, rather than just comedy actors, to get a different angle, and my name was kind of high-profile at the time.

They asked me for an audition, so I went in at 11 O’clock in the morning, and I had a joint just before I went in.  I was a big smoker. So I was stoned when I did the audition, and I came away thinking the audition was rubbish. I was waiting to hear if I’d got a recall when they phoned me up and said, “You’ve got the part; you don’t need a recall. The director said you’re perfect!” So the method acting helped.

When I went to the first table read, where you get to meet the costume department, everyone was getting measured and they were deciding how the cast would look. Then they got to me and said, “Right, you’ll do.” Turns out I’d been practicing for the part since I was 19.

AD: Was it a joint decision for you to leave the show in series six?

SM:  No, but I was fine with it. By the end the character was getting slapped round the head quite a lot and just playing an idiot – which is fine, but I think the character had kind of ran its course. I got to go out with a nice death scene, and there was a nice double scene with him and his brother. I’d rather do that than keep going and become this insignificant character that people aren’t that bothered about anymore.

And then, you know, it finished after the next series so they were obviously wrong to kill me off [laughs].

AD: Any chance there’ll be a third Dawson brother in the mooted Ideal film?

SM: I keep hearing rumours [about the film], but I’ve not heard anything so I don’t know if it will or won’t happen. I’d be inclined to think it’s probably not the best idea because you rarely see a sitcom that works as a film. I think what kind of set the wheels in motion was the Inbetweeners film, which was quite successful so then all of a sudden people want to make films of other things. Whether it’ll happen or not I’ve no idea – but I’m dead anyway, so…

AD: You worked with Graham Duff again on series two of Hebburn. How did that come about?

SM: Yeah, it was just a few days filming and I was in a couple of episodes. I didn’t have many lines – I was just this miserable studio technician who was helping one of the characters record a song, and he didn’t like anyone, and just kept saying how rubbish everything was. It wasn’t much of a stretch!

I did audition for a part in the first series and I didn’t get it, but I think they liked what I did, so they wanted to get me involved in some way.

AD: What part did you audition for in the first series?

SM: I can’t remember. I think it was the guy who works at the paper – Graham’s part!

AD: You’ve been appointed comedian-in-residence at Woodhorn Mining Museum. How did that come about because it’s quite a unique thing?

SM: The director of Woodhorn is an old school friend of mine. We hadn’t seen each other for years and he came to see me doing stand-up one night and we had a chat and that about the museum. I think because they had artists-in-residence and poets-in-residence the conversation got round to whether a comedian in residence would work, and I said that it was just another branch of the arts so I didn’t see why it wouldn’t work.

He got funding from the Happy Museums project, and we’re now working towards the Miner’s Picnic on the 14 June. We’ll be presenting a show there that’s a celebration of the humour involved in the mining industry.

It might have elements of stand-up but I think it’ll be more storytelling. It’s geared towards the audience who are going to see it, so either miners or families of miners. It’s about seeing the humour in things without upsetting anyone – we want to celebrate the humour that was used in the mines.

My dad used to be a gold miner but it’s a very open project that can go in various different ways. As long as we come out with a performance at the end it should be good. It’s a bit of an unknown quantity at the moment.

AD: Finally, then, it’d be churlish not to mention that you also host the Giggle Beats Comedy Quiz. What’s your favourite bit of trivia?

SM: Ooh – I don’t know. It’s hard to say. It’s probably that Bob Holness played the saxophone on Baker Street, but that’s not true. All the best trivia’s not true.

Seymour Mace hosts the Giggle Beats Comedy Quiz every first Sunday at The Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle. Entry is £2, and prizes include a three-course meal for two, comedy tickets, DVDs and more. The show starts at 7pm. Reserve your team by calling The Stand box office on 0844 693 3336.

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