Todd Carty amazed audiences and critics alike when he joined the cast of Spamalot with his total charm and masterful comedy timing. Andrew Kay talks to the TV star about returning to the stage once again to appear in one of the funniest stage musicals of all time
For as long as most of us can remember Todd Carty has been a constant presence on our TV screens. He first appeared as Tucker Jenkins in Grange Hill and the subsequent spin-off series Tucker’s Luck. His next break was as Mark Fowler in EastEnders followed by the villainous policeman Gabriel Kent in The Bill.
But just over a year ago the producers of the Broadway and West End hit Spamalot invited him to join the cast of the touring production of the show playing the much put upon sidekick to King Arthur, Patsy, and since then he hasn’t looked back.
It must be a great thrill to be doing Spamalot for a second time…
Oh, it is, of course. I have had an amazing 15 months on the road doing it. It’s just one of those things that I had enjoyed so much that when they said do you want to come and do it again it was a very big yes. It’s such a fun show and that, more than anything else, is why I love doing it so much.
Did you feel that you had found your comedy voice through Spamalot?
I don’t know about that, I’m far too modest to say anything like that but I certainly, after three or four weeks of rehearsals and then going out on the road for a bit, got used to a different kind of acting and learnt how to work with it. I was working with a great bunch of musical theatre actors and they really helped me through the piece. I will say that if a gag goes right then it does make you feel good, and you have a nice, small glass of wine to celebrate after.
The role of Patsy, sidekick to King Arthur of the Britons, demands that you sing and dance as well. How have you coped with that?
I don’t know, it’s an old joke but basically I went to the Douglas Bader school of dancing, so I was not really any good. I enjoyed the singing more than the dancing, I found the dancing harder, I mean when I sing Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life I don’t have to be Pavarotti. It’s Patsy singing his way through life and trying to cheer up the King and say that life’s not too bad old son. Talking about it makes me realise how much I enjoy this part and how glad I am to be going back and doing it again.
“When I sing ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ I don’t have to be Pavarotti. It’s Patsy singing”
It’s a bit of a monster of a costume…
Well it isn’t just the costume, it’s that big bloody back pack that I have to carry every night. When I first put it on a realised that it is as long as it is wide. I almost fell flat on my back so for the last 18 months I
have been crouching over a bit to counterbalance it. I’m glad to be able to straighten my back up during this break.
Were you a Monty Python fan before you did the show?
Oh yes, I think anyone of a certain age, and I was a certain age the other day, is a Python fan. We all remember sneaking into the original Monty Python And The Holy Grail film when it first came out and obviously the BBC TV series. I’m very much of that era.
It was certainly in my blood before I was asked to play the part.
I can remember my parents not allowing me to watch it because they thought it was too adult, but now looking back at it, it’s not, is it?
No, not at all, compared to what we see on our screens and on the internet now it is very innocent. It’s very, very silly and it is certainly suitable for an audience aged from 4 to 104. We do get a very varied audience of all ages and it’s great to hear the little kids chuckle at their jokes while the
adults chuckle at theirs.
And that is a pure pantomime convention, the script working on several levels…
Indeed it is, it appeals to all. A heavy Shakespearian tragedy it is not and if that is what you want to come and see then don’t choose Spamalot – but, if you want an evening of fun then this show is for you. If audiences leave with a chuckle in their heart that is great because we do too.
Has doing a live stage show been a nice break after so many years of constantly being on our TV screens?
It is, it’s very nice and good for me to go out of my comfort zone and as Monty Python would say, do something completely different. I am doing two films at the moment back to back and it feels really weird being back on a film set and not having a live audience there to work against. It is a very different discipline. I have fitted these two films in before I go back to the role and it is so different.
Have you done much stage work before?
I have done panto before and The Business of Murder, a serious play with lots of lines but TV has kept me very busy and now Spamalot is doing the same. Being on a stage with an audience and particularly in a show where it is this much fun is great. I can’t tell you about how excited I am to be back in the show and particularly to be coming back to Brighton where we had such a great reception last time.
What is it like to be on a stage when the audience goes as wild as it does in Spamalot?
You know, it really is strange; different regional audiences react in different ways, but when the lights finally go down and the audience start to cheer it is amazing. I turned one night to a mate on stage and said, ‘We’re in a hit, aren’t we?’ and he said, ‘Yes Todd, we are’. It’s a lovely feeling.
Have you any more live theatre lined up?
No, I am doing Spamalot for five weeks in Brighton and I have work with my film company Swordfish Produtions which will take me up to June next year, which in an actor’s diary is pretty good.
Spamalot, Theatre Royal Brighton, 15 December 2011–14 January 2012,
box office: 0844 871 7650 (bkg fee), www.atgtickets.com/brighton