Interview extra

Warren Clarke, In With The FlynnsMay 26, 2011

Warren Clarke is known for roles as far ranging as Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, and long-running BBC cop series Dalziel And Pascoe. Now Warren co-stars with Will Mellor, Niky Wardley and Craig Parkinson in a Manchester-based family sitcom, In With The Flynns

Isn’t In With The Flynns a remake of an American show?
It was called Grounded For Life in America and was about a working class family. Caryn Mandabach is probably one of the most successful producers in American TV. She has done Grace Under Fire, Cybill, 3rd Rock From The Sun, That ‘70s Show, Nurse Jackie. She came over here and put herself about. Saw the BBC, ITV, and said, ‘Anybody want to work with me?’ And the BBC went, ‘Oh yeah, we’d like to work with you. We’ll do a comedy.’ So Caryn thought, ‘Mmm. I’ll bring back Grounded For Life and set it in England.'

You play grandad Jim. Is he interfering?
Probably but it’s necessary. I think he’s needed. They like him there occasionally. They’d miss him if he wasn’t there.

How would you sum Jim up?
I’d probably have a pleasant five minutes with him in the pub, and that would be enough!

Did you base Jim on anyone?
I did and I didn’t. I thought long and hard about who I knew and who I remembered from the past that could possibly be like him, and eventually I had this conglomeration of about six or seven different blokes that I know. I didn’t fix or pin him down to anything. I just wanted to have the ability to stay loose a bit, and have the ability to take him off on a tangent if need be. So I didn’t put him in a straitjacket.

How much of Warren Clarke is there in Jim?
Mmm. Well my wife would probably say an awful lot. I don’t know. There’s probably about 10 per cent of him in me. There are seeds of Warren in there. There’s bound to be.

What was the working relationship like with Will Mellor, who plays Jim’s son Liam, and who is married to Caroline (Niky Wardley). And is it true you support rival Manchester football teams?
We had a good working relationship. When I read a couple of the storylines before we started making it I noticed that there was a heavy leaning towards Manchester United from Will’s character Liam, and from one of the grandchildren. I thought, ‘OK. It’s set in Manchester. We can’t have the general public thinking that this is a Manchester United love-in show.’ So I made a phone call and said, ‘I think Jim supports Man City.’ They said, ‘Ooh. Why is that?’ And I replied, ‘Because I do. That’s one thing, and Will supports Man United. But also it’ll be funnier for the story if there is that side of it where I bring in the City element.’ I think it works very well, although we don’t mention the present regime. I talk about the good old days.

You’ve had a rich and varied career. Is there one role you are proudest of?
No, there isn’t really. Every job is as important as the last. I just look forward to the next job. I don’t think pride has ever come into it. You are pleased with the way something has gone and the reactions you receive, but I’ve never thought about pride. It’s nice that I keep getting asked to work.

You starred in Dalziel And Pascoe for 11 years. Is that something you are interested in revisiting?
It’s probably done and dusted. They very well might bring it back with somebody else doing it at some point. Why not? Give someone else a chance.

Would you be keen on playing another detective in a new series?
It depends if it’s a good script. Good scripts seduce anybody.

Do you find the roles that you are being offered now are as good as in the past or is there a discernible difference?
No, they are still good.

Do you think drama has suffered because of the increase in reality TV?
I suppose in a lot of ways it is tougher to find the work, because it’s not there. When I first started there were only ITV and BBC, just two channels, so it’s almost like there are only two channels again now because everything else is stuffed full of reality. But I think there are a lot more actors out there now, and there is probably less work.

So will we ever see you in the Australian jungle for I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!?!
No. Never ever ever.

Is there anything you would still like to do in your career?
No. I just wait for the next surprise to come through the letterbox. It was a joy to do Jim and a nice surprise to be offered In With The Flynns. So I don’t go, ‘I want to play this or I want to do that.’ I just see what happens.

Nick Fiaca

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