Friday, November 12, 2010

Interview with... Arthur Bostrom

If, like me, you grew up watching British sitcoms, you'll love this next interview.
I'm referring to the TV classic, Allo Allo. I'm also referring to George Clooney look-a-like, Arthur Bostrom.
I hope you enjoy my interview with him.

1. What was it about Allo Allo that appealed to you?

Mostly that it was very funny. I had been brought up on the comedies of David Croft/Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft/Jimmy Perry (“Are You Being Served”/”Dad’s Army”) and it had always been an ambition of mine to work with David Croft, who also directed his series. I first worked with him in 1983 in an episode of the sitcom “Hi-de-Hi”. It was a tiny part: a scene with Peggy (Su Pollard) but proved to be very funny. David always remembered actors he’d worked with and when the part of Crabtree in ‘AlloAllo! came up three years later I was interviewed for the role and, happily, got it. I came in during the second series and was already a fan of it from series one. I thought it had the wonderful combination of being perfectly cast and consistently funny. It also seemed to appeal to a wide range of people, from children through to bishops. I gather that Her Majesty, the late Queen Mother, was a great fan of the series.

2. What was it like on the set of Allo Allo?

We filmed ‘AlloAllo! for the most part in two parts. We would film all the exterior scenes (the village square of Nouvion, the exterior of the Chateau, in the woods etc.) on location in Norfolk, a county in Eastern England. After that all the other scenes were filmed before a live studio audience in London at the BBC Television Centre. Filming and recording is a serious business, because you want it to be absolutely right and not make mistakes. Wherever possible we tried to do scenes in one take, so that the audience’s laughter was fresh and they were hearing things for the first time. Having said that the set was fun: we worked together as a cast and production team for many years and good friendships were made. There was a sense of excitement making the show every week, from us and with the audience, and I think one of the reasons the show was successful was because people could see that we were having fun.

3. Can you please tell us about your work outside of TV?

My work outside of TV has been mainly in theatre, which is my first love. I have done a range of plays from Shakespeare, Restoration Comedy to serious modern plays and comedy farces. I think because of ‘AlloAllo! I am best known for comedy, and I find the experience of a live theatre comedy very exciting: making people laugh every night is a great job to have. Recently I have pursued my love of writing, and have just finished the first draft of a novel. I will be seeking a publisher in the new year: so perhaps my career will veer off into a completely different direction. I very much like variety in my work and tend to embrace it.

4. Did you know Allo Allo has moved on to theatre productions? There is an Allo Allo production playing here in Lilydale, Victoria, in the next few months.

Yes, I do know about the stage production, because in the earlier days of the series we performed the play! It originally began as a UK tour in 1986 and then moved into the West End of London. In total we played the West for five seasons and also toured New Zealand in 1988, Australia (Eastern and South Eastern states) in 1990, and Perth in 1992. In recent years the rights for amateur performances of the play were released, and some professional tours have also been mounted. Sadly, as several of the original cast have since died, it would not be possible to do it anymore with all of us. We are also a lot older!

5. What's coming up next for you?

Next for me is revision work on the novel and then in December I will be appearing in the Christmas production “Robinson Crusoe” at the Regent Theatre, Stoke on Trent. In the new year I shall begin writing the next novel.

6. Is there an event or charity you would like to bring to my readers'

I don’t have any one particular charity I would wish to mention. I think I mostly feel that it is up to people to decide themselves and support charities whose work has particular meaning for them. I have been involved in charity work for many years myself and have always found it very rewarding and I will always continue to help wherever I can.

I want to thank Arthur for his time, as I know how busy he is with his work.
I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did.
Please let me know what you think via
Until next time.

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