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TV Interview

Ade Edmondson on 'Ade In Britain', 'Bottom' and the return of 'Ab Fab'

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Best known for his violent slapstick roles as Vivian Bastard in The Young Ones and Eddie Hitler in Bottom, Ade Edmondson has a much quieter life these days. After quitting touring with comedy partner Rik Mayall, Edmondson is now often found touring the country with his folk band The Bad Shepherds rather than throwing a frying pan at someone's head.

His latest TV project is ITV1 daytime series Ade In Britain, which finds the comic singing the praises of British food, traditions and past times. Digital Spy caught up with Ade to chat about the show and a possible return to his comedy roots.

Ade Edmondson


In Ade In Britain you describe yourself as an 'old bugger'. Are you starting to feel your age?
"I'm aware that I'm 54. It doesn't mean that I think like a 54-year-old, whatever a 54-year-old thinks like. It's a confusing age. As you can tell by this answer so far, I feel 19, but I know I'm 54."

A lot of people are surprised to see you doing shows like this? Are you surprised?
"No, not really. I've never had a plan. All my career's been an accident and I just do what I like. That's the way I choose what I do. I don't think, 'How will people perceive me?' I don't worry about people who saw me in something 30 years ago. I just want to have fun."

Is this a more serious side to your personality that has always been there?
"I'm in a band called The Bad Shepherds. During the early years of the band I went on as a character called Ade Edmondson. But after a couple of years I ditched all that and just came on as myself. I've been myself now for two and a half years. It's nice! It's lovely!"

For people who haven't seen it, what's the idea behind the show?
"It says what it is in the title. It's based on my own idea and belief that this country has its own history of cooking, past times and traditions that we are in danger of losing. It's stuff that interests me. I go around supermarkets in this country and I despair. I don't dislike pasta or Chinese food, but where's England? Why do people say, 'We don't have our own cuisine'? We do."

Who was the most interesting person you met on the show?
"There was a guy I met in the Fens who was an eel catcher. He was incredible. I met some delightfully eccentric people, but this eel catcher chap was brilliant. I asked him what he did in the winter and he mumbled something. I asked him again and he mumbled again. Eventually I found out he was talking about a punt gun. He showed me it and it's basically the size canon. He fixes it to his boat and he goes duck hunting. He said, 'When I fire it, I go about 50 yards backwards'. He was fantastic."

You show off your cooking skills on the programme. Did those skills start on Hell's Kitchen?
"I've always been a cook. But I think everyone's a cook. Can't you cook?"

I do a decent cheese on toast...
"See, everyone's a cook. I don't know where this idea comes from that people can't cook. Everyone can f**king cook. I'm not trying to push myself as a cook. In fact, the opposite. I'm saying, these foods out here are wonderfully simple and you can cook them incredibly easily. Anyone could make the most of these dishes I cook. It's only a bit of frying."

You celebrate Britain on the show, but have you never been tempted to become a tax exile?
"Ha, no. I like it too much here. This is where my friends are and my emotional attachments are. I always think those people must have such a boring life. Living in there little English enclaves in the Algarve. Playing golf. Terribly boring."

Do you get annoyed by modern technology taking over people's lives?
"I like shiny things as much I like traditional things. I have no trouble with technology. I just feel things will go missing if we don't look after them. All these fantastic words in the English language associated with the food like Bedfordshire Clangers, Sussex Pond Pudding. Stuff like that you don't see packaged up in the gastropub section of Waitrose. They should be."

When can we next see you dong some comedy on TV?
"I ain't done comedy on TV for f**king years. I quit doing Bottom Live in 2003 with Rik because I'd decided that I'd done enough. Nothing wrong with it, I loved everything we did, I just didn't want to get to the end of my life and think, 'That's all I've done'. My motto in life is maximum fun. You can't always have fun doing the same thing. You have to try new things in life."

Would you never consider a Bottom reunion?
"I am open-minded. I change my mind all the time. At the minute there are no plans, but it doesn't mean we won't be. We always had a pipe dream that when we were pensioners we'd do a programme about Richie and Eddie in a pensioners home hitting each other with colostomy bags and stuff like that, but it's just a dream."

How about a comedy series without Rik?
"I have a character I'm working on based on Percy Grainger, who was a classical pianist from Australia. He was big into S&M. He used to run across Hyde Park, play the Albert Hall and have blood trickling down his back as he played. He's interesting. I don't know what that is. Whether it is a comedy, whether it is a drama, or whether it is a nerdy 20th Century prog rock band, but there is something in there."

Have you seen any of your wife's new Absolutely Fabulous episodes yet?
"Yes, I've seen one of them, it's very good."

Can you promise us that it won't be a let-down for diehard fans?
"Of course I can. What do you expect me to say?! It's the anniversary so it's going to be special."

There must be a lot of pressure on Jennifer...
"The one I saw was very good. She's a very funny girl, Jennifer, she knows what she's doing."

Ade In Britain airs on weeknights at 4pm on ITV1

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