Julian Clary: 'My career highlight to date? Being stuck in a lift with Christopher Biggins'

We ask the actor 20 questions ahead of his opening in two-hander ”Le Grand Mort”, written by Stephen Clark, at Trafalgar Studios

Julian Clary in Le Grand Mort
Julian Clary in Le Grand Mort
© Scott Rylander

1. How would you describe Le Grand Mort in 5 words?
Funny, visceral, shocking, beautiful, challenging

2. What drew you to the role of Michael?
The late Stephen Clark wrote the play for me. This is not something that happens often in life. To bring it to life in his memory was something I felt I needed to do. I've been a camp comic and a renowned homosexual for 30 years: it is time for something meaty, to get my teeth into.

3. How has the rehearsal process been?
Apparently I have to remember the words and say them in the right order. Who knew? My co-star, James Nelson-Joyce is a wonderful, enigmatic actor and it is very exciting to be on stage with such talent.

4. You say the show 'takes you out of your comfort zone' – how does it do this?
I am required to show my vulnerability, this does not come naturally to me.

5. Has it been exciting to work on a previously unperformed play?
It has been a step into the unknown. A bit like spending the night with John Barrowman I imagine.

6. What do you think the intimate space at Trafalgar Studios will contribute to the experience?
A close look at the man-made fabrics worn by the general public.

7. What is your earliest memory in entertainment?
Charles Hawtrey and I were in the chorus of a show called Men in Skirts together in 1924.

8. What was your big break?
I did an advert for a savoury snack called "Gentleman's Relish" in 1927.

9. If you hadn't become an entertainer what would you have done?
Scaffolders always seem like they're enjoying themselves.

10. What has been your career highlight?
Being stuck in a lift with Christopher Biggins.

11. Most embarrassing moment?
Being stuck in a lift with Christopher Biggins.

12. What draws you to acting?
Being leered at by the general public.

13. Who are your idols?
Wayne Rooney and Mary Berry.

14. If you could go back in time and change one thing in your career what would it be?
Being stuck in a lift with Christopher Biggins. I still need ointment.

15. What have you seen on stage recently?
Benedict Cumberbatch in Winnie the Pooh. Not one of his best.

16. Is there a striking difference between stage and screen work?
I expect so.

17. You've been announced as part of the Palladium's Dick Whittington – what do you enjoy most about panto?
Wearing lots of make-up and overacting.

18. What do you do to unwind in your spare time?
A post-show enema.

19. What would your dream role be?
Mrs Bridges in a remake of Upstairs Downstairs.

20. What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
Don't get stuck in a lift with Christopher Biggins.

Le Grand Mort runs at the Trafalgar Studios until 28 October.