IS THAT YOUR FINAL ANSWER?
James Graham’s thrilling and provocative drama, Quiz comes to Newcastle Theatre Royal Wed 4 – Sat 7 Oct 2023.
In 2001, in a shockingly shameless scam, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire was duped out of £1,000,000 – or was it?
Rory Bremner, Britain’s top satirical impressionist and renowned comedian, stars as Chris Tarrant in the thrilling and entertaining ride through the infamous Coughing Major scandal.
We caught up with Rory to talk about the scandal that engulfed the world’s most popular TV quiz show.
You’ve only starred in one other play before, Noël Coward’s Relative Values, what made you say yes to this? And what are you looking forward to most about touring this production?
Loved Relative Values – for someone used to stand-up, it’s great to be part of a team. With Quiz I’m really looking forward to the challenge of playing a character over a whole play, not just a short sketch. Also, Chris says he hates my impression of him, which makes it even more fun!
You’re an impressionist, what is it that helps you most get into a character when there is often so much information out there about a person in the public eye?
Always the voice. Once you get that the rest often follows. It’s an instinctive thing with impressionists. But playing a character is going to involve some acting. Luckily both the writer and the director are as good as they come. That’s really exciting and makes me want to raise my game.
How familiar were you with the scandal of ‘The Coughing Major’? Had you seen the play when it was on in the West End back in 2018, or seen the ITV adaptation which aired in 2020?
I knew about it and enjoyed the TV version with Michael Sheen (who’s cornered the market in playing well-known figures on film- I must meet his agent) and Matthew McFadyen, who’s terrific in everything he does- especially Succession. His character Tom Wambsgans reminds me of Peter Mandelson. I’d love to see him play that part. I’ve deliberately avoided watching Quiz again though as Daniel Evans (the director) told me not to. It’s the first note he gave me and I’m doing what I’m told! I’m also not starting too soon as it’s enough for my wife to live with Chris Tarrant for four months. Six would be too much!
If you could star in a play centred around the life of another of your well-known impressions, who would you like bring to the stage most? Or which do you think audiences would have the largest appetite for?
Maybe Boris or Trump. I enjoy doing them but I can’t stand either of them so it might drive me mad. I helped Kenneth Branagh and Dominic West with Boris and Prince Charles respectively. We spent most of the time laughing.
Who would be at the top of your list of impressions you wish you’d done (or have yet to do!)?
Playing myself. That’s the hardest one of all and I still haven’t nailed it yet.
Quiz plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Wed 4 – Sat 7 Oct 2023. Tickets can be purchased at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010