Veteran comedy couple Bobby Ball and Tommy Cannon make their dramatic debut at Blackpool Grand Theatre this week – but fans of the funnymen needn't panic, they won't notice too much of a change.
The classic 1970s British farce Big Bad Mouse originally starred Jimmy Edwards and Eric Sykes and was written by Phillip King and Falkland Cary.
It has been hailed as one of the best ever slices of British comedy – largely because of the way its original stars “adapted” the script when they weren’t too sure of their parts.
“We don’t have any lines or anything like that,” says Bobby. “There’s a story going on but we can come in and out of it when we like. We enjoy winding the real actors up.”
Ironically the couple should have been at the Grand in the same show for a full summer season two years ago but theatre politics saw the run called off.
“I’m not really sure what happened but we’d both got geared up to do something a bit different so when the chance of this short tour came up Tommy and I both though we’d have a go.”
So does it mark a possible new future for them?
“No,” says Bobby. “Definitely no. It’s a simple as that. I’m a comedian. That’s what I like doing. I’d consider doing bits of parts – but just walk on stuff or cameos. I like making people laugh and in this play we are just Tommy and Bobby with different names.”
It’s all part of a busy summer for Bobby – who is also one of the celebrity judges on North Pier’s Search For a Sunday Star talent show and will be back in Blackpool for two dates on the best of British Variety tour together with the likes of Frank Carson, The Krankies, Paul Daniels and Jimmy Cricket
“There have been some very good acts getting up on stage at North Pier,” he said. “I thought it was awful what they said about the town on Britain’s Got Talent.”
As for the current credit crunch he’s hoping it might actually encourage people to go out more.
“The Variety Show is doing very good advance business,” he said. “People actually went out more during the last recession and I’m hoping they’ll do it again – to forget whatever troubles they’ve got at home. I think live entertainment will do an about turn. Look at the names on our bill – we’ve all served our time. A lot of the people coming through now haven’t had the background. They haven’t worked their way up through the rough clubs and the long days and nights on the road.”
He actually admits to having a soft spot for touring around.
“Well, I did until I found out I might be giving Frank Carson a lift everywhere,” he said. “I’ll have to put a gag on him or hope he sleeps.”
But isn’t it lot of egos on the same bill?
“We’ve all gone through that and we all get on well – just so long as no one tries to pinch any time from what we’ve been given!” he says.
In Big Bad Mouse Tommy stars as Mr Price-Hargreaves with Bobby playing the eponymous mouse Bloome.
In the orders office of the Chunkibix Ltd biscuit factory, it is Mr Price-Hargreaves who gives the orders and Mr Bloome who obeys them.
Until that is, Mr Bloome is one day accused of chasing a young girl across the common making him the hero of every female in the office, not least Miss Spencer.
So glorious is Bloome’s transformation, in fact, that when the young person in question discovers she has made a mistake in her identification, Bloome is less than pleased and is determined to keep her quiet.
Big Bad Mouse is famous for its ad-libbing and anarchic fun, so prepare to be surprised as no two shows are ever the same.
n Big Bad Mouse is at The Grand from tonight until Saturday July 26. Tonight at 8pm, Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2pm. Group and Friends of the Grand discounts available. Call (01253) 290190 or book online at www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk