Stephen Mangan: We make each other laugh and we wind each other up
The television actor, best known for roles in shows like Green Wing and Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years, is providing the voice of Postman Pat in the movie version of popular kids’ character. He lives in north London with his actress wife Louise Delamere and sons Harry (6) and Frank (3).
You knew you were destined for|a career in showbiz when you decided to become an altar boy. Is it fair to say you were a show-off from a young age?
Well, I thought, if you're going to be made to go to church, then you may as well be on the stage — that was literally my thinking.
That just shines a little light on my personality. Why sit in the congregation when you could be the guy with the incense? I had a costume, robes, I rang the bell. To me, it was a better way of passing the tedium of being in church.
You’re well known for your grown-up roles on TV and in film. What’s it like to take on such an iconic children’s role as Postman Pat?
It's nice, because most of the stuff I've done is unwatchable by anyone under the age of 18.
I've watched a lot of Postman Pat with my children. He's got to be the sweetest character, there's not a bad side to him, but over 90 minutes, you want Postman Pat to go on some sort of emotional journey.
There’s even a bit where he shows us his musical talents, isn’t there?
Like Susan Boyle, jaws drop to the floor when he starts singing a love song to his wife at an audition in front of Simon Cowbell.
Boyzone’s Ronan Keating stepped in for the singing, but weren’t you tempted to show us your own range?
I can sing but I'm not sure I have a jaw-droppingly amazing voice. If people think it's my
voice, all the better. I'm not going to be putting them straight.
Is making an animated film quite a solitary process?
Usually you meet the other actors and together you build something, whereas with this, I went into a basement in Soho, recorded my half of all the conversations on my own and then two years later, there's a film.
It’s a world away from the ensemble comedy Episodes, which you’re currently starring in alongside Tamsin Greig and Matt LeBlanc. Is that still good fun to make?
We make each other laugh and we wind each other up, so it's great. And Tamsin's a fantastic actress, brilliant at comedy and can make you cry. What more do you want in an acting partner?
Does the show adequately reflect the sometimes ridiculous nature of the TV industry?
As soon as you start making a programme about the making of a television programme, you realise how crazy some of the stuff is.
I went over to LA a few years ago and this man was so fulsome in his praise of me, which was quite astonishing seeing I hadn't done that much in the UK, even. He was saying, ‘You're going to be a massive star Simon'. ‘It's Stephen'.
I mean, that could go straight into Episodes.
Would you like to carry on with the show for another series?
I like that it's two or three months of the year and then I get to go and do things like Postman Pat and Jeeves And Wooster. I have an itchy brain and like to do a high turnover of stuff, so it suits me down to the ground.
I just read the next script, if I like it, I'll do it.
- Postman Pat: The Movie is in cinemas now. Episodes is on BBC Two on Wednesday nights
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