Interview: Lucy Montgomery
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER 2011 FOR THE VELVET ONION MONGRELS TAKEOVER.
Hi Lucy, welcome to TVO. Now… Mongrels has returned: what can we expect?
The scripts are very sharp and funny and there are of course lots of new songs including a Lily Allen parody from Destiny. Also, I think the puppets have been re-made too so they’re plusher and have even more fur. If that’s not a reason to watch I don’t know what is. Extra fur people, extra fur!
Has the second series upped the ante?
I think the joy of a second series is that you arrive with fully rounded characters so we hit the ground running really. I particularly enjoyed the episode where Destiny takes Nelson aside and in no uncertain terms tells him that there will be never be an “us”. I think you will shed a tear. So this time round there is laughter, nob gags and dare I say it, real emotion. But only briefly, so don’t be put off by that – it’s mainly nob gags.
You knew some of your co-stars, and director Adam Miller, before the show. What do you enjoy about working with them?
I think I knew everyone which is really nice. It’s a great atmosphere in the recording booth. I have known Rufus since I was 18 (ahem, a very, very long time). I worked with Paul Kaye on his brilliant Strutter series and we did a lot of dry humping in that, so Mongrels hasn’t really come as a shock in terms of rudeness. Katy and I got our bums out for Tittybangbang. Goodness, I seem to have done an awful lot of “blue” stuff in my career so far.
As a writer yourself, do you get much input into the scripts?
Not really, the scripts are very funny to begin with and it’s nice to do a job where someone else has done all the hard work and you just get to put on a silly voice. We have read throughs where we can suggest changes but I don’t really feel the need with this job.
Has there ever been a joke or a line that you felt has pushed the boundaries of good taste too far?
Oh God, there are loads in Mongrels but I guess that’s the show’s thing – cute, furry puppets uttering unspeakable things. We wouldn’t want them to go all Mary Whitehouse on us would we?
How did you decide upon Destiny’s voice? Were other possibilities discussed? There’s a bit of a Catherine Tate meets Stacey Solomon vibe going on there…
I think we tried her sounding a bit street, as they say, but that was too similar to Kali so in the end I went all Eastenders. I have been told I look like Stacey Solomon. I have also been told I look like an Afghan hound. In fact, worryingly, at the Mongrels screening last week someone said: “Why have you grown your hair to look like your puppet?” so it seems I am morphing into Destiny, but without the aggression and sexual promiscuity of course. That will come later.
I understand time on the actual set is limited, as you’ve done most of your work before filming begins. Would you like to be more hands on?
Well, we record all the voices beforehand in a nice warm booth with lots of tea and cake, while the crew and puppeteers spend weeks on location shivering in the cold. So no thanks – I think the voice over artists have got the better deal…
You’ve been on our radar for some time now, but people might not realise how vital a part of the comedic landscape you’ve been all these years. You started off your career alongside James Bachman & Barunka O’Shaughnessy, and went onto appear in The Mighty Boosh, The IT Crowd and AD/BC, and you were also the main star of Tittybangbang alongside lots of our familiar faces. Do you feel part of this wider family of comics who, for want of a better term, we consider to make up ‘Booshdom?
Oh yeah, a lot of us go out and get drunk together – Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Simon Farnaby, Barunka, John Hopkins – so in that way, I suppose we are a family! It’s nice when you have that cross-fertilisation of people and ideas. Long may it continue. Hopefully we can all give each jobs for the rest of our lives…
Is there anyone in Booshdom you’ve not had chance to work with yet, but would like to… or anyone you would like to work with again in more depth?
I would love to work with Julia Davis. I am a huge fan of hers. I’d be too shy to tell her to her face though so perhaps you could do the honours?
Of course, you’re also married to Fast Show legend Rhys Thomas, extending that comic family considerably! You worked together on the hugely underrated Bellamy’s People, so would you consider writing and performing together again?
Oh God, yes. We spend many nights together in our kitchen drinking, smoking and trying to come up with ideas. How sad is that?!
Recently, you’ve been making your own radio show too. Will we be hearing more of Variety Pack in the future?
I hope so. I find out in January if there’s to be a third series, so fingers crossed. I would love to do more.
What’s coming up next for you?
I’m in one of the Ab Fab Christmas Specials which I am very, very excited about. I’m not allowed to tell you much about my character, but she is very scary and even wields a knife at one point. That airs on Boxing Day, I think. I’m currently rehearsing for a production of Sondheim’s Company at the Crucible in Sheffield, which is on over Christmas. It’s got Francesca Annis, Daniel Evans and Samantha Spiro in and it’s going to be great. Come and see it!
I’m also doing voices on a new Channel 4 animation called Happy Families alongside Kayvan Novak and Daisy Haggard. It’s rude, twisted and very, very funny. Knowing how long animation takes though, that probably won’t be out until well into 2012.
Will you return for more Mongrels if given the chance?
Yes please. Woof.
Finally, a suggestion we’re asking everyone about. Given the show’s popularity, do you think a live tour could work? It’d be a work-out for all involved, we imagine, but we’re putting it out there!
Hey, that’s a good idea. We could record the voices in a nice warm booth with lots of tea and cake, and the puppeteers could go out on the road for months on end. Nice one.
Lucy Montgomery: thank you.