Jus' like That! Legendary Welsh-Born Comic Tommy Cooper Is the Subject of a New Stage Show Starring Actor Clive Mantle. He Tells James Rampton What It's like to Play Such an Iconic Figure: Went to the Paper Shop - It Had Blown Away

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), April 13, 2010 | Go to article overview

Jus' like That! Legendary Welsh-Born Comic Tommy Cooper Is the Subject of a New Stage Show Starring Actor Clive Mantle. He Tells James Rampton What It's like to Play Such an Iconic Figure: Went to the Paper Shop - It Had Blown Away


Byline: James Rampton

When Clive Mantle was given Tommy Cooper's famous fez to try on he says he felt a "bolt-throughthe-spine" moment.

It's perhaps not surprising, given Caerphilly-born Cooper's stature as one of Britain's all-time comedy greats.

And Clive, best known for his role as Dr Mike Barratt in Casualty, has had to get used to wearing a fez and conjuring up some magic for his title role of Jus' Like That! A Night Out With Tommy Cooper.

The compelling, funny and moving play about the hugely popular, yet troubled comedian arrives, for one night only in Cooper's country of birth, at the New Theatre, Cardiff, on Monday.

The show, written by John Fisher, who worked for many years with Cooper, features all the best gags and magic tricks that helped make him one of our favourite comedians.

It also shows the darker side of a man who had a turbulent relationship with the bottle.

Mantle says he's thrilled to play the part.

"It's such a big privilege playing Tommy - I genuinely love the man," he says. "He is one of the funniest comedians this country has ever produced. So this whole tour for me is just an immense thrill."

Audiences are just as thrilled because - 26 years after the late, great comedian died of a heart attackin front of a live TV audience on stage at Her Majesty's Theatre in London - Tommy remains toweringly popular.

Clive reckons the show works so well because it evokes strong memories of the peerless performer.

"We're not trying to denigrate Tommy," says the 52-year-old, who's happily married to Zoe and is the father of a five-year-old boy, Harry.

"We're reminding people what an outstanding comedian * Clive (left), he was. First off, he was just a brilliant physical comedian.

"Hewantedtobenimble, dainty andprecise,butheknewhewasn't and caught on to the fact that if he tried to be like that and failed, it was really funny.

"Tommy also had another string to hisbow,themagic.Hecottoned onto the fact that ifhedid75%of his tricks wrong, people would roar with laughter. But to satisfy hisowninner child, every so often he'd get one right.

"Audiences would revel in that - the buffoon who almost by accident gets it right. Sowhile other performers had one or two elements in their act, Tommy had three."

Having trained with Geoffrey Durham (The Great Soprendo), Clive has mastered many of Tommy's magic tricks and can now make pigeons appear and bottles disappear. …

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