Phill Jupitus talks ahead of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang coming to Northampton

Phill Jupitus

Phill Jupitus

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He might be one of the few people in the world to have not seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but that hasn’t stopped comedian Phill Jupitus taking a part in the show.

He plays the villainous Baron Bomburst in the show which comes to Northampton’s Royal & Derngate from Wednesday September 21 to Sunday October 2.

Phill said: “It is strange in that I never saw the film growing up and still haven’t seen it. That was a conscious decision when I got the gig really. I just wanted to react to the script.

“There’s a great thing with live entertainment, you don’t get more HD than real life and that is something you don’t get with all the devices you did.”

However he is relishing the chance to play the bad guy on the stage.

He added: “It’s irresistible playing the villain and there is a real opportunity to go over the top with it. I think that is why they get comedians to play these parts because they are very comfortable channeling some madness.

“The biggest challenge is always the dancing for me, especially being a larger gentleman but we have been doing this for nearly a year, it is a year since I auditioned for it.”

However because he is known as a comedian, it can cause issues when putting the show together.

“The problem I do have is when a director says to me feel free to have some fun with the part. That’s fine, I am quite comfortable with going off script and doing half an hour on things. But there are a lot of actors that you work with who are really not comfortable going off script. So you owe it to them to stick to the script so when a director says have some fun with it, I ask them to be a lot more precise.

“The first leg of the tour, I worked with Michelle Collins and then when we come to Northampton, it will be with Claire Sweeney, both of whom I have worked with before and it is good to work to have known people before, especially on a show like this where we are playing husband and wife.

“But they both have such great stories and it’s a joy to hang around them

And while he talks up the show, he is aware there is one star bigger than them all.

“It is just an absolutely brilliant show. I’d love to say that getting to see all of us, the sets, the costumes, the choreography is the reason people will see the show, but it is mainly the flying car and you’ll be amazed when you see it done.”

In recent years, he has transformed from a stand up and comedian to taking more stage roles. Something that is only to be enhanced when he appears in A Midsummer Nights Dream throughout August. But he said the journey to becoming an actor was a hard one.

Phill added: “The worst thing is that because I am a stand up comedian, people are quite keen to pigeonhole people as just comedians rather than as actors. People like Lee Evans, Eddie Izzard, Jo Brand, Jack Dee. They are starting to break out.

“It’s easier for comedians in America. If a stand up decides to go into acting, everyone just says, good luck to you.

He’s taken roles in Hairpspray, Spamalot and The Producers and while he mentioned the dancing was a chellenge. The first one was the toughest.

Phill said: “All of the shows are a challenge. The first one I did was Hairspray and Danny Austin, the choreographer on that was like a gay Canadian drill sergeant, but everything was so precise and it has to be for these kind of shows to make them the spectacle that they are.”

And Phill is also making a return to the Northampton stage having performed twice there before.

He said: “I have performed at Northampton before. I did a show in the late 90s there based around Star Wars which was a lot of fun.

“I also played the narrator for Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. That was something on another level because I loved the radio show so much and because it was the original cast who I grew up listening to, it was hearing the likes of the late Susan Sheridan, Geoff McGivern and Simon Jones.

“I’ve done a few episodes of The News Quiz on Radio 4 and to hear the likes of Peter Donaldson and Charlotte Green reading out the news and being very funny.”

It has been a busy time for Phill despite the cancellation of the long running panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks on which he was one of the team captains.

Phill said: “I’ve also done a few of the Qis that Sandi Toksvig has made her debut on and she is brilliant in a very different way to Stephen.

“She’s a diplomat’s daughter and therefore tries to involve everyone in the show. I think when they have new people on the show, they ask me so that people can be helped out.

“You are also surprised at the things that you do know when you are on the show.

“The nice thing about Never Mind the Buzzcocks is at least it was cancelled as a grumpy rebellious teenager rather than a disenchanted adult.

“It has freed up a lot of time to do other things though.”

Tickets for the show can be booked by calling the box office on 01604 624811 or visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.