BB: It’s great to welcome you to the Encore! Show on Box Office Radio Joe, especially since you are so busy.
JP: I’m pleased to be here and it’s great to be busy again – thanks for inviting me.
BB: The exciting news is that you are on tour again soon with April in Paris
JP: It’s massive news because it seems that at last we can get back to work and get the theatres open and start entertaining again. We have been banned for the first time since Oliver Cromwell put a ban on theatres. It has been horrendous so getting going again is fantastic.
BB: So you are doing a full tour with April in Paris and then you have another tour coming up with Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.
JP: Yes, we open at Coventry Belgrade Theatre on May 17 and then we go to Hull, Chesterfield, Wellingborough, Nottingham and there’s other dates being added.
BB: We’ll come back to April in Paris in a moment but what about Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘ Em?
JP: That starts in early 2022, we were actually touring it when the lockdown started so it will also be good to get back to it. I’m Frank and Sarah Earnshaw is Betty. We are not trying to copy the television series so you will not see me trying to impersonate Michael Crawford, you will see me being me as Frank Spencer and we have a lot of fun with it. Sarah is as brilliant as ever.
BB: So you are working with Sarah in both productions, you must have built up a good, professional, working understanding.
JP: Yes, we have worked together on a number of shows and she really is a terrific actress. I was told a long time ago that if you want to improve, try to work with someone who is better with you and that’s the case with Sarah. She is really good and inspires you to do better all the time.
BB: So, let me ask you Joe, would you tell us what April in Paris is actually all about?
JP: It’s about a couple who have been married for twenty years, love each other to bits but realise that their marriage has gone stale and they are not sure if they should stay together. She wins a trip to Paris so off they go to rekindle their marriage. I’m not going to tell you what happens but it is very, very funny and real quality, as you would expect from John Godber.
BB: It sounds as if you are enjoying being a part of it and not just because it means you are working again.
JP: I don’t think John Godber has written anything that wasn’t brilliant in his entire life. He is the third most performed playwright in history behind Shakespeare and Alan Ayckbourn. That speaks volumes about his talent – genius.
BB: I have heard it said that you are also a genius when it comes to comedy and performance Joe, is it something you inherited or did you just kind of stumble into this business?
JP: No, I don’t have a family background in the business, it was all an accident really. I didn’t have career ambitions of any sort. One of my first jobs was calling bingo and being a wrestling referee at a holiday camp. I saw that there was a TV talent show coming up so I applied. When I turned up I still didn’t have an act so I just messed about and people found it funny. I have been messing about ever since.
BB: How did you get on with bingo calling with a voice that is well-known for being a little higher than the norm?
JP: I only called the high numbers! It was worse when I was refereeing the wrestling. When I was trying to tell off some giant of a bloke for breaking the rules he would just look at me and laugh!
BB: You have made millions of people laugh of course – a great gift. Now you are giving them that same gift along with Sarah Earnshaw and April in Paris.
JP: I hope so, I cannot wait for us to get in front of an audience again. There is all the social distancing and all that stuff in place everywhere we go so the audiences can feel quite safe and just enjoy themselves.
BB: We wish you every success of course when you open at the Belgrade on May 17th and we’ll be thinking of you and Sarah a few minutes before the start trying to make each other smile to take away the tension.
JP: That’s exactly how it is – you are quite right. Still, it wouldn’t be right if you weren’t nervous and once we get out there it will be great, it will be like coming home.
BB: Would you be happy to visit us again later in the year and tell us how it went and how you are preparing for Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em?
JP: Yes, of course, I’ll enjoy it – and thanks for inviting me this time.