It’s the squeaky voice that seals it – Joe Pasquale sounds like Frank Spencer without even trying. Put a beret on his head and he is a dead-ringer for the clumsy clot.
The creator of the sit-com anti-hero of Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘ Em Ray Allen certainly thought so. When asked if he would allow a stage adaptation of the show with Joe has its star he immediately gave the enterprise his blessing.
“We went to Ray and asked about the rights for it on stage, and he said ‘I have been asked many times before but it has to be the right person’ And he thought I was it,” said Joe. Allen had also been watching Joe for 15 years, so being a fan helped his case.
The idea was born when Joe was appearing as King Arthur in a West End production of Spamalot.
Stuck in an airless dressing room at the height of summer, wearing chainmail and kingly robes, a broken fan was about as much use as a chocolate fire guard.
Setting about taking it to pieces, cleaning it and putting it back together again, when he turned the power back on the fan exploded.
The show’s director Christopher Luscombe and staff director Guy Unsworth were present and both roared with laughter/
Guy said: ‘You’re so like Frank Spencer’ and then ‘If we had the rights would you be interested in doing it’?”
It has taken two years to get it on to the stage - it’s a whole new script- and it is now on the road, starring Joe, directed by Unsworth and playing to full houses.
Michael Crawford was the original Frank Spencer in the 1970s sitcom. It was noted for its stuntwork, performed by Crawford himself, as well as featuring various well-remembered and much lampooned catchphrases by Michael Crawford and that had a nation chorusing his ‘Ooh, Betty!’ catchphrase.
This will be absent from the stage show as in reality it featured once or twice in the show – but was popular with impressionists including Mike Yarwood.
“We’re not doing it as Michael’s version of Frank Spencer; that would be an insult to Michael,” said Joe.
“I have put my personality into it, which is how to make it believable. There’s a difference between child-like and childish and Frank isn’t childish; he believes in what he’s doing.”
It has all the timely trimmings including mustard wallpaper and tank tops and the stunts remain.
“We’ve tried to capture all that and tried to put it in. For two hours you genuinely will laugh.
“We have a stunt coordinator and I’m doing it all – hanging by my ankles, chicken chasing and all sorts,” said Joe.
Agreeing that he is something of an adrenalin junkie, Joe said: “If it’s not dangerous or life threatening then I’m not interested anymore. I read the book Feel the Fear and do it Anyway 15 years ago and it made me think. Now, if I’m not sure about doing something, I automatically say OK; let’s do it. You might as well live while you can.”
The attitude explains why he qualified as a pilot - and enrolled in the Open University to study earth sciences.
The audience have revelled in the nostalgia of Some Mothers and found it hilarious. “The minute I enter the stage (and he never leaves it) there is a tremendous warmth for the character,” said Joe. “To hear people belly laugh for two hours, there is no better feeling in the world.”
Belly laughs that includes those of Some Mother’s creator Allen who loved it. “He laughed an cried,” said Joe. Michael Crawford who lives in New Zealand and has yet to see the show.
It also appeals to all ages. “All the younger people didn’t know the show or have a frame of reference with Michael, but they laughed their socks off. Even the older people who remember the original, forgot Michael doing it in within five minutes – the script is so good.”
The comedian might not admit it but the show’s appeal has a lot to do with Pasquale. He won New Faces in 1987 and was a staple of Saturday night television in the 1990s - and then virtually disappeared.
Being crowned King of the Jungle in ITV’s I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! in 2004 put him right back up there,
He has since and hosted the long-running television series The Price is Right for ITV, appearing on Dancing on Ice. On stage he has done Spamalot and The Producers. He is a regular in pantomime for Qdos and tours his stand-up show.
Joining Pasquale is Sarah Earnshaw who is his long-suffering wife Betty. They were in Spamalot together.
Susie Blake is his disapproving mother-in-law Mrs Fisher, Moray Treadwell is Mr Luscombe/Mr Worthington, David Shaw-Parker is Father O’Hara and Chris Kiely is Desmond/Constable.
Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em runs at Harrogate Theatre from Tuesday June 19 to Saturday June 23, daily at 7.30pm plus a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
Box office: 01423 502 116.