Bobby Ball, The Security Men March 27, 2013
Comic Bobby Ball has branched out into acting with roles in Sky One's Mount Pleasant, Not Going Out with Lee Mack, and The Fattest Man In Britain, written by The Royle Family creator Caroline Aherne and Jeff Pope. He teams up with them again in one-off comedy The Security Men on ITV, about a group of hapless guards patrolling a shopping centre who miss a robbery and try to put things right. The caper, which also stars Brendan O'Carroll of Mrs Brown's Boys and Paddy McGuinness, plays to Bobby's comedy strengths.
After a stage partnership lasting more than 50 years with Tommy Cannon, he's a showbiz legend and is having too much fun to retire. TV Choice caught up with him...
Caroline Aherne cast you in The Fattest Man In Britain, which was your first major acting role, she must be a fan…
Caroline is wonderful. She can sit and watch a scene and will make very subtle directions and she's right every time. All the stuff she's done, it's not gone to her head. I don't think we've seen enough of her. When I did The Fattest Man she invited me to meet up for lunch in a hotel. I asked for two boiled eggs, she couldn't get over it, and we got on from then on.
You must be thrilled the way your acting career has developed…
Yes, everyone's been wonderful. But why is it I'm everyone's dad? What I'd really love is to play a villain.
Unlike a lot of comedy nowadays, your show was always family friendly…
There's a reason for that. When we first started out my father came to see us and said he thought it was a bit naughty, or blue as we called it then. I was really sad so we cleaned up. A guy once told me that if you do blue stuff you sell two tickets but if you're clean you sell four because you get the families in. So that's what we did. I find there's too much effing in comedy — it's become the norm.
Your sons are now a comedy double act called The Harper Brothers…
Yes, they've been together eight or nine years now and I'm very proud. They go all over the world doing comedy, my lads. I told them that when me and Tommy first started out we were happy because it was better than being welders — we weren't clocking on at 7.30am. So we weren't bothered about being successful. I said to them that if you are working regularly and you can pay your mortgage, then you're a success in this business.
Do they ask your advice?
I offered to write some stuff for them but they said, 'It's OK, Dad, we don't want to be Cannon and Ball-ish'. I said, 'Are you saying you don't like Cannon and Ball?' They replied, 'No, but we're nothing like you.' I told them that when me and Tommy started out as singers we were called The Harper Brothers. They couldn't believe it.
How do you spend any spare time between touring and acting?
I've got nine grand kids and I spend as much time as I can with my wife Yvonne. We are very blessed, it's 39 years this year. She says she might get another man but she hasn't the time to break one in!