There was some tweeting taking place today about Tony Robinson, (now Sir Tony) and the fact that we used to occasional have lunch with him during the recording of Red Dwarf series III.
Now long gone, when I started working on Red Dwarf in 1989, there was a 7 storey building in Acton, West London run by the BBC.
It was here that all the entertainment shows and sit-coms rehearsed. Each floor contained 3 large rehearsal rooms and on the top floor was a lovely canteen where everyone had lunch.
On the 5th floor, Red Dwarf was in one room, Blackadder was in the other. We didn't have much to do with each other but occasionally Tony would appear and join our bedraggled table.
I have just dug this section out of The Man in the Rubber Mask where I mention this experience, but, sadly now I realise I never mention Tony. This was written about 5 years after the event which for my memory is a long time so I'm not that surprised.
Danny, Hattie and I spent quite a lot of time in the BBC canteen as Chris and Craig learned reams of lines. The BBC canteen is on the top floor of the building, and on any given day in here, you can see the stars. Ahem. You can see a few actors who are in a few BBC sit coms. The actors from 'You Rang M'Lord' are all dressed as if they are about to go and play golf, which is no doubt what they do. The people from Blackadder all look professionally depressed, which is probably how we all looked too, that being the trendy look for our generation.
During lunch break Craig and Chris would join us and we devised this thing called a luvvie-ometer' which would sound when we spotted a major league 'love' entering the room.
Luvviedom is a very specific complaint that it is horrifyingly easy to catch, which is why the Blackadder and Red Dwarf actors appear so morose. A miserable countenance seems to be the best way to counteract luvvieness.
A luvvie is always pleased to see everybody, always 'up' always 'exhausted (i.e. working a lot) and always has a string of anecdotes a mile long. . . . .which have . . . . beautifully timed pauses . . . and exquisitely timed delivery. They also never have a point or a punch line at the end of their stories. Merely a raised eyebrow and a knowing expression. The end of a long and dull anecdote is when most actors realise they need writers.
I know of very few performers who have not been struck down with luvviedom at some time, I know I've had it, try as I might to avoid it.
"Hello there Robert, how are you." says a very nice floor manager I worked with a year before.
"Oh God." I say looking to the heavens, "Utterly exhausted," head shake, "really it's because I'm crap," stare at person and nod vigorously, "I'm a crap actor, I shouldn't be allowed in here."
The nice floor manager knows the score and responds thusly. "You're a very funny actor, I saw your show in Edinburgh, it was excellent."
"Oh, that's very kind, that is so, so kind, you saw it. Oh thank you, that is so, so kind. But anyway, no, I'm shagged. Utterly drained, but it's really nice to see you, how are you . . oh, there's Ben (Elton) I'd better say hi." Walk walk walk . . ."Hi Ben."
"Do I know you?" says Ben Elton. "Guards, take this man away!"
No, that's not true, I don't know many famous people, but I do know Ben Elton. Sort of. Well, can I truly say I know anyone, do we even know ourselves? Rarely. Anyway, Ben used to do his set before the Joeys in salubrious gigs like Chats Palace in Hackney, and the Covent Garden Community Centre. He's a very nice man, and there's an end to it. I'm not going to do some big luvvie number about me and Ben going way back because it's not true.