Designer Magazine have been very busy over the past few months which is why this Early Doors interview has been sat in the archives for about 4 months, but hey what a great time to remind you of this great Northern institution. With nothing technically to promote, the DVD Boxset has been in shops for what seems like aeons now, this is simply a timely reminder of what was a great series. With talk of a muted 3rd series on the way and also a tour for later in the year Mark Benton (Eddie), Rodney Litchfield (Tommy) and James Quinn (Phil the copper) are busy men, but the next time you'll be seeing much of the Early Doors cast is See No Evil, the ITV Myra Hindley drama. Designer Magazine talked to the cast of Early Doors about how the greatest comics are always actors first and foremost

Q: We're here at the 2nd Northwest Comedy Awards....however it's your first time here isn't it?
James: It's kind of a slow burner, Early Doors, and we're beginning to come into our own now we're on BBC1. It did really well so it's raised the profile.

Q: What are you guys working on at the moment? Is there a 3rd Series?
Mark: Not at the moment

Rodney: We think there probably will be another series but we're not sure.

Q: Last time we were chatting I remember we were talking about taking Early Doors out on the road
Rodney: That will be after the 3rd series. It has already been mentioned very seriously

Mark: I think it is something we'd all like to do. Early Doors the way it's constructed would be perfect for the stage

James: It's getting 15 people available all the same time together to do.

Q: You all do different programs outside Early Doors. What are you all working on at the moment?
Rodney: Well they all do different things...
James: I'm doing See No Evil which is the Myra Hindley drama...

Mark: ...The Myra Hindley comedy...are you playing a copper to stay in your remit. I'm doing Northern Lights, which is the spin off series from Christmas Lights. It's the same cast as Christmas Lights, but obviously it's not just about Christmas lights this time (laughs). It's about the rivalry of the two friends, me and Robson Greene, and we're just about halfway through.

I'm doing that and then i'm doing a series called I'm With Stupid which we did a pilot for last year. I think someone told me it was up for an award or something as well

James: The thing is I'm With Stupid is a new BBC North Comedy department and there were two pilots made last year and I'm With Stupid is one of them. It's got a series, it's very good cos it means we've got a meaningful production coming out of Manchester now.

Mark: I think that's what important that it came from here. Basically it was really well received and we got the series quite soon after it went out.

Ryan: And i'm open to offers

Q: See No Evil, you've just started filming that I believe
James: We've been on location on the Moors for the first few days. It's quite funny because John Henshaw who plays the landlord in Early Doors is in it as well. There's actually four members of the cast of Early Doors in See No Evil. It's different, but it's a very good script. Maxine Peak who was in the first series play's Myra Hindley as well. It will be out this Summer

Q: The atmosphere must be totally different and alien compared to that of Early Doors
James: It is very different, but it's a very happy crew and cast.

Q: All you guys do the serious roles as well as the comedy roles
James: Most actors do really

Rodney: I do anything I can

Mark: A lot of people think i'm a comic actor and I keep getting in offers for stand-up, which of course I haven't done. I went to RADA and then left and people see me in this. It's funny really because I get referred to as comic Mark Benton.

James: When we were filming the first series of Early Doors there was a thing on TV called Young Offenders. It was a very heavy drama set in a prison with Tamsin Outhwaite from Eastenders and it couldn't have been further from comedy.

Mark: I kind of straddle both things - comedy and drama - so people who work for me know me for both the comedy and the drama which is a very privileged position. I think the reason we all love Early Doors is that the comedy comes from the characters

Rodney: (burps) He's the busiest actor I know. When he's not working he does more work than anyone else I know. He say's i'm not working and then you ring him up and he's says i'm just going to do a voice-over or something else.

Q: What do you think it is about the north that it's now demanding it's own comedy awards and production companies?
James: It's just a natural progression because there's very very strong talent such as Steve Coogan, Peter Kay and John Thompson come out of Manchester so there's always been a load of stuff that's been made up here. With the BBC establishing itself up here and Hattrick having an office up here now as well. It's just a natural progression isn't it.

Mark: I mean in a couple of years time you will have all the talent that is in Middlesborough.

James: Having worked with Mark, Middlesborough is the next after Manchester.

Q: Who are your comedy heroes and why?
Mark: Ronnie Barker because he was an actor who could do comedy as well and that's what I want to be as well. I don't want to just be a comic cos i'm not, i'm an actor first and foremost. I just loved the things he did and if I could be anywhere near him i'd be happy

Rodney: Carrie Grant (laughs). No seriously. What you said about Ronnie Barker I quite agree with because everyone thinks he was a stand up comic, he wasn't, he was an actor.

James: Peter Sellers and Ronnie Barker were the two. What you said, they're great actors who could do comedy as well. Peter Sellers characterizations were as deep as any serious drama, but he could do all the comedy timing and the voices.

Mark: I think that's what's so good about Early Doors. The cast are all actors, it's about the characters and it's not about the cheap gags.

Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest www.shirlainephotos.co.uk

Early Doors Series 1 & 2 are out on DVD now as well as the Boxset Versions
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