The sixty-eight year old Irish comic Roy Walker is most famed for presenting TV show ‘Catchphrase’ for fourteen years. For the very few of you who haven’t watched the best bits on YouTube, the show consisted of two contestants battling it out and guessing the well known phrases being acted out by Walker’s animated sidekick, Mr Chips.
To commemorate ten years since the end of the show which made him a household name, Walker is appearing at the Magners Paramount Brighton Comedy Festival with his new show, ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’. Speaking to The Badger, the comic talks about the heyday of his career, his life before comedy and the problems with shaking off his TV persona for his stand-up performances…
The Badger: You’ve been in show business for over forty years now, mainly performing as a stand-up comic. So does it bother you that most people recognise you for ‘Catchphrase’, something that you did for only a quarter of your career?
Roy Walker: Well, I haven’t completely
solved that problem yet, but I went to Edinburgh Fringe this year as a stand-up comic, and lots of ‘Catchphrase’ fans came in. But the press also re-discovered me, and I got, dare I say, great reviews for my comedy.
The Badger: So, would you say that comedy is more your passion than television presenting?
Roy Walker: Oh no, I like both equally well.
The Badger: Are you trying to get back into television then?
Roy Walker: Well, you never know. Who would’ve thought I’d be doing sixty or seventy university shows every year lately, and going to the Edinburgh Festival and the Brighton Festival? It’s all groundbreaking I think.
The Badger: How do you find the student circuit?
Roy Walker: You have to have plenty of courage when you run out in front of students, it’s quite a scary prospect! But anyone of that age group finding you remotely interesting is very flattering.
‘You have to have plenty of courage when you run out in front of students’
The Badger: Tell us about your latest stand-up show, ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’…
Roy Walker: I am a stand-up comedian, so I come out and do about twenty minutes to half-an-hour of stand-up. But not many people know very much about me, so I just start from the beginning: me singing as a kid in an international choir; going into the army; becoming an international athlete; joining the comedians in the ‘70s; touring around with people like Tom Jones and Barry Manilow. And then, for the last ten minutes, we play ‘Catchphrase’.
The Badger: You’re off to Brighton very soon, to perform as part of the Brighton Comedy Festival. Is Brighton a place you’re familiar with?
Roy Walker: Yes, I was there touring with Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones, so I’m looking forward to going back.
The Badger: Are you planning on going to see any other comics perform while you’re in Brighton?
Roy Walker: I’ll be looking out for quite a few of the pals I met up in Edinburgh, and I’ll be looking out for Andrew Maxwell, Jason Byrne, Jim Jeffries, and Des Bishop.