KEN CAMPBELL FEATURE
to referring to events in Coronation Street or that time John Peel turned up on The Archers. On the telly as in real life. Campbell has an indefinable air of mischief—about-to-happen. He doesn’t need to do anything — and there’s strictly no improvisation on the Brookside set — he just needs to give that little smirk that says, ‘Here is a man whose agenda is not only hidden, but downright bizarre’. In truth, Campbell is as much in the dark as we are. ‘I don’t know more than you,’ he says. explaining that Oscar is officially ‘in Spain’ until October. ‘I’m curious about my wife, Barbara. I keep talking about Babs, but there’s nobody cast to play her. I said to Mal Young, who’s the genius behind it at the moment, ‘This Babs then, is she fat, is she thin?” “What do you think?” he said. I said, “The way it’s going at the moment, I think she’s
' a bloke and dead.” He said, “Well if it exists, it
won‘t be dead, because we’ve got enough corpses at the moment.”
Neither are there any plans to bump Oscar off just yet. so expect him back on your screens soon. In the meantime. you can catch Campbell at the Traverse, en route to the National Theatre,
with the completion of his ‘epic comic triplology’, a collection of three semi- autobiographical narratives about bizarre
coincidences, astral planing and tribes who worship Ken Dodd. The new piece, Jamais Va, is about the opposite of deja vu: ‘Jamais vu,’ he explains, ‘is when you go home and you say Christ I’ve never been here before! ’ This kind of
‘People sometimes say I’m mad, I’m not mad,
it’s just that I’ve read different booksﬂ
‘sit-down tragedy’ is what Campbell specialises in these days, ever since, as he tells it, an angel took away his desire to do straight theatre one night in Nottingham as he starred in The Alchemist. ‘I’d lost the trance that you need to be in in long drama,’ says Campbell and for some reason you feel you know what he’s talking about. ‘Then the angel came back a bit later and said, “Small parts for TV”. It wasn’t stage-fright, it was play-fright.’
There’s no bitterness here. Campbell is perfectly at home delivering his deceptively well-structured rambles and turning up at unexpected moments in films like Letter to Brezhnev and A Fish Called Wanda. The result of his alternative Gants Hill reading-list is a philosophy that sends him happily running counter to the mob, believing nothing, but supposing anything. ‘What is going on, really?’ he speculates. ‘That was one of the brilliant things that The Illuminatus authors did: go and buy all the newspapers today, spead them all out and then say, “It’s all going well and according to plan!” That’s how great conspiracy theories are born. Whose plan? What plan? My philosphy is Fortean perhaps. There’s nothing ﬁnal. It’s quantum. You say, “Is it here or is it there?” . . . Well, it’s both.’ E]
Jamais Vu, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 24—Sat 25 Sept; Furtive Nudist and Pigspurt also on Sat 25 Sept.
Pigspurt is published by Met/men priced £6.99 on 27 Sept.
Ahove: Campbell as Oscar Dean In Brookslle.
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The List 24 September—7 October I993 11