Frank Spencer's a gift role says Joe Pasquale, starring in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em at the Ipswich Regent
Copyright © Scott Rylander 2018
When the creator of smash 1970s sit-com Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em comes to see you bring it to life on the stage 13 times, you know you're doing something right says Joe Pasquale.
“People have been asking to do Frank Spencer for years and the original writer, Raymond Allen, who owns the rights to it all said ‘no’. The people they were putting to him weren’t right,” he tells me.
He and Guy Unsworth - the original writer and director of the stage version - approached Raymond while they were doing Spamalot in London’s West End. When he heard Joe was playing hapless Frank he said yes immediately.
“He loves my version of it, he’s been to see it 13 times now. That’s a huge endorsement. If you grew up watching it as I did, it’s a gift of a job. Frank’s a wonderful character to play. If you open a newspaper or turn the telly on it’s a bad world out there so to have two hours of big laughs is great.”
He was excited and nervous about taking on the role made famous by Michael Crawford, mindful of avoiding a cheap imitation.
“A lot of people put sit-coms out on stage and just do two or three episodes and that’s it. We spent two years getting the script right. We discovered very early on not to do an impression of Michael. It’s me doing Frank, Joe Pasquale. We’ve invited Michael, who lives in New Zealand, over to see it but I know’s he doing a concert his own...”
The TV series was famous for its stunts, from roller-skating escapades to runaway chickens. The stage version is no exception.
“Some venues are bigger than others, some have a slanted stage so all of those have an affect on the set but we do have quite a few stunts. If you get people who really know what they’re doing it’s not a challenge, it’s a job that people rise to the occasion for.”
Joe is joined by Sarah Earnshaw as his long-suffering wife Betty and Susie Blake as his disapproving Mother-in-Law, Mrs Fisher.
“Sarah has a harder part than me. I just go out and be myself. Susie is fantastic. I don’t drink. Mrs Fisher gets more drunk as the show goes on. I don’t know how she does it. I’d have to get drunk to do it,” he laughs.
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is at the Ipswich Regent until June 16. Joe returns to Felixstowe’s Spa Pavilion on August 27 with his new stand-up tour A Few Of His Favourite Things, celebrating 30 years in comedy.