Tag Archives: stand-up

1982 ➤ “Who?!” Peter Capaldi’s first interview (probably) as a green young stand-up

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Capaldi learning the ropes as a comic: Live onstage supporting Spandau Ballet in 1982. (Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s)

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Capaldi and his new Tardis: the 12th Doctor Who. (Photo © BBC/Guy Levy)

◼ “KIDS THREW ORANGES AND COINS at me in Brighton. It’s the first time I’ve tapped into that iceberg of sympathy.” Such was the welcome the 23-year-old Scot, Peter Capaldi, received on his first serious outing as a stand-up comedian supporting Spandau Ballet’s first national concert tour in 1982. I’d been bowled over by his high-octane act a week earlier in Manchester and now the tour was winding up in Bournemouth where I’d come for its Easter weekend finale. His energetic performance suggested an interview was going to be fun, and I’d snapped some onstage pictures that spookily presage an aspect of Capaldi that was to win a Bafta award later in his career.

So here we were in 1982 in the Royal Exeter hotel talking about his lucky break earlier on the same tour – being spotted supporting Spandau’s Glasgow gig by film producer Bill Forsyth who also recognised talent writ large. One result was me resting my notebook on a thumping fat filmscript titled Local Hero, and the other was Capaldi admitting: “I’m terrified of starting this film – standing in front of a camera.”

Oh the irony. Tonight Peter Capaldi, now 56, stepped into the best role in British television to play the 12th Doctor Who – a rendering as fierce and dotty as any who went before. Today too I finally found my long-lost notes from the first interview he’d given as an unknown comic, plus the cassette tape of our very relaxed conversation about his days at Glasgow School of Art, singing with a local band, and his yen to try comedy, inspired by 1981’s nationwide tour by Rik Mayall and the Comic Strip team, who a year later leapt onto British television screens on Channel 4’s opening night.

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Local Hero, 1983: Peter Capaldi with Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert, a gentle Scottish comedy directed by Bill Forsyth

For Capaldi’s debut in autumn 1981, he had invented a dim character called Fraser Meaky after thinking “I can’t go onstage as myself!” but then Gary Kemp’s circle of Spandau friends, who did not want another band supporting their tour, asked him to be a comedy warm-up before the main event. Fraser was shed in favour of a much more frenetic onstage Capaldi wearing a distressed old showbiz tuxedo, the humour retuned to lampooning the ego maniacs in politics and pop.

Recently, he had been compering a Monday live band night at a Glasgow club. “I like fast clean idea jokes, like Steve Martin,” he said. “The trouble with Glasgow is that it’s a small audience and every time you play you face the same crowd so you have to invent new material. After three weeks I couldn’t think of any more jokes, so it fell through.” How he solved this dilemma was revealed as we spoke. More of the interview will follow soon, meanwhile listen to our chat.

AUDIO CLIP FROM OUR 1982 INTERVIEW:

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➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How Clare Grogan’s pop entourage put Capaldi on the road, plus an audio track with his band The Dreamboys

➢ Catch Doctor Who series 8 on BBC iPlayer for two months

Doctor Who

Rare self-deprecation: Click pic to view Doctor gifs at thespoonmissioner

➢ Sept update: The new Doctor joins Denzel Washington and Gemma Arterton on BBC1’s Graham Norton Show, 26 Sept – Peter Capaldi’s debut alongside Jenna Coleman was the most watched Doctor Who opening episode in four years, with 9.2million UK viewers.

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➤ Rik Mayall, fireball of comic energy, is dead

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Angry Feminist Poet: Rik Mayall at Soho’s Comic Strip, Nov 1980. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

❚ THE 56-YEAR-OLD STAR of The Comic Strip, The Young Ones and The New Statesman has died suddenly at his home in London. Long before his TV stardom, I met Rik Mayall in November 1980 in pursuit of the first magazine feature about the achingly funny team putting the Comic Strip’s new wave of “alternative comedy” on the map. Here is that first feature about them, with my own pictures:

➢ 1980 – At the Comic Strip, ‘alternative cabaret’ throws up the next generation of household names – here at Shapersofthe80s

Comic Strip, 1980, Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, Alexei Sayle, alternative comedy

First published in Over21, January 1981

“Awful news about Rik Mayall – a fireball of creative comic energy and inspiration. Such brilliant raw talent” – Rory Bremner

“Rik Mayall was just pure wiry, energetic, unpredictable humour poured into the shape of a human. You couldn’t not watch him” – Charlie Brooker

➢ Ade Edmondson said: “There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing … They were some of the most carefree stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him” – Independent

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Twentieth Century Coyote, 1980: Rik Mayall’s coruscating double act with Ade Edmondson, seen backstage at Soho’s Comic Strip club, within Raymond’s Revue Bar. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Rik Mayall may have died after fit in wake of bike accident – Telegraph

➢ Mark Lawson pays tribute to a dangerously funny man … “The savage charisma that Mayall projected in his TV comedy roles led the director Richard Eyre to cast him, in 1985, in a National Theatre production of Gogol’s political satire The Government Inspector”

➢ Rik Mayall: tributes from comedians, fans and celebrities – Telegraph

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