Onion Talking: Noel Fielding [Part 1: Let’s Dance!]
This weekend sees Noel Fielding take on one of the biggest challenges he’s ever faced: a live dance-off on BBC1 show Let’s Dance in aid of Comic Relief.
Noel was kind enough to talk exclusively to The Velvet Onion this morning before another long slot of rehearsals.
The first part of our interview, which focuses on this weekend’s performance is below. Part two, in which Noel outlines a little about his plans for the future will follow over the weekend… for now, let’s dance!
Hi, Noel… thanks for talking to us today: we know you’re insanely busy!
Yeah I’m on my way to the studio now, actually – I’ve got to do the dress rehearsal today, which is a bit scary. It’s the first time everyone’s been all together and can see what you’ve been doing for the last two weeks. It’s quite hard to get to that level. I’ve sort of learned what I’ve got to do, but its getting all the bits to look good in the dance at the same time. You always lose one bit, so the middle bits good but the end’s wrong or something. It’s really hard to get everything good.
Obviously when I watch my dance teacher, who is amazing, and then I see myself in the mirror I just go: “OH MY GOD!” In my head, I thought I was doing what my dance teacher was doing, and when I saw myself I was like: “Not quite…” I guess it’d be like them trying to do stand-up. It’s a ridiculously hard thing to learn in such a short space of time, and I’ve never been so tired in all my life. I’m actually knackered all the time.
How did you end up getting involved? Did they ask you, or did you offer yourself up for exhaustion?
They asked me, of course. There’s no way I would have volunteered! [he laughs] Richard Curtis sent me a really long, three page email saying it’d be really good if I could do it. He’s been doing this stuff for twenty years now, so it was a really nice, really well constructed email. There was no way anyone could’ve read it and thought: “Nah, I’m not doing that.”
Then you realise just how much work everyone else is doing for it, and he’s been doing it for so long and still manages to write films and do stuff, so I said yes and then thought: “What have I said that for? What a dick!” It was ages ago when he asked, so you think it’ll be fine, but then as it got closer I thought: “Did I really say I was doing that? What an idiot.” But its fine… it’s been really fun actually.
You’ve done bits and bobs for Comic Relief before, haven’t you?
Yeah… I think me and Julian did a gig once in the middle of the night which was pretty hilariously bad. It was presented by Russell Brand, but by the time we went on it was about half three in the morning, and the people who were in the live audience had been there since about 10 o’clock and they were furious!
I actually wanted to do The Apprentice thing, because I love that show, and I thought that’d be fun but then they said they wanted me to do the dance instead. I think they’re running out of people! I guess there’s six people in each round so it must be quite hard to find people who will do it… so they asked me!
Were you given free rein to pick a dance routine?
That was the first thing I asked about when I went in for it. I did get to choose, so I went away and looked at what’s already been done, which is pretty much all of the most famous dance routines. The big stuff that’s left you look at and think there’s absolutely no way you can learn it in two weeks, so you have to go for something quite simple. I wanted something unusual, though, and I managed to find something… which I’m not allowed to say!
Total secrecy, eh?
Definitely. It’s hilarious when you’re doing press but you’re not allowed to tell people what you’re doing… it’s really odd. You want to say but you really can’t. But the thing I’ve managed to find I’m really excited about, and they were really excited about too, which is good. It’s quite unusual, and I’m not sure how it will go down, but I guess it doesn’t matter really!
Do you think you could go all the way?
I really don’t know. I’ve seen what Lulu’s doing, and it’s pretty amazing, and really mindblowing stuff. I guess it depends how it goes down on the night.
I’d love to get through to the final, just because it’d be fun to come and do it on the main night because it’s been quite a lot of work getting to this stage. I’ve kinda gotten into it now, so if it’s over on Saturday it’ll be like: “That was that. Bye!”
Have you started taking it seriously then?
I’m quite competitive so I have been a bit. I’m not sure how funny it is, but if I can do it well, it’ll be really good. We’ll see.
You’ve had to make a short intro film as well. Were you allowed to run with that a bit more?
They had a few ideas for me, but I just thought I’d like to write it myself. The thing is it’s for 7o’clock on BBC1, and I’ll never ever be on telly at that time again! [he bursts out laughing] That’s not my forum in any way! Even that was a medium I’m not used to… I feel like I’m dreaming in mainstream.
I managed to write something in there for my little niece to be in, because she loves dancing. She’s really excited because she gets to be a fairy. I thought of this idea where she teaches me how to dance, which should look very funny. That was really nice for her. She got to film for a day and dance for the camera, so she’s buzzing that she’s going to be on telly. She’s only seven so that’s probably mindblowing for her. But I’ve no idea what it looks like now, because obviously the production team have cut it together and put music to it and stuff.
I saw some of the other introductions last night, and they’re all pretty broad and quite cheesy, but it is that kind of timeslot. The show is kind of like being punched in the face with rainbows. It gave me a panic attack for about five minutes when I first watched it. But the people on it are so good… that teacher and the young girl from Waterloo Road were really funny, I thought, because they were such an unlikely double act and what they did was hilarious. Russell did really well too. He looked like The Fonz in that outfit. I’ve never really thought he looked like The Fonz before, but dressed as a woman I suddenly couldn’t think of anything else. It was quite disturbing what he did, but I think it was a good choice. Him pretending to be a sexy black woman… there’s a lot of stuff to do with that.
Are you in drag yourself?
[An enormous laugh jumps down the phone-line…]
Not right now, obviously!
I am, now.. of course! It’s weird, because I dressed up in such weird costumes in the Boosh that probably the weirdest thing I could’ve done was pick something really manly. That always freaks people out a bit more. I can’t say but you can probably guess…
Twitter is awash with rumours of you wearing a red dress…
I don’t know where that came from, actually! We haven’t had a dress rehearsal yet. I think someone just made that one up…
It’s a bit weird, because I have only seen glimpses of other people. Jared Christmas has got his kid coming in to watch him train, and she’s so cute, cos they wear the same tracksuit. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen is him in a blue Adidas tracksuit and his tiny two-year old in the same outfit. It’s the best visual I’ve ever seen… it literally kills me every time. And I’ve met Lulu, who was really nice. I don’t know who else is doing it, actually.
There’s quite a varied mix of contestants really. They’ve got comics, tv presenters and popstars from the past.
It’s weird, because they treat it like a real competition. When you watch the show it’s all light-hearted, but when you train you’re all in separate rooms. They treat it like you’re gladiators or something. Some people take it really seriously and others just aren’t bothered. Apparently when Christopher Biggins did it, he did one rehearsal and thought it’d be alright. He was dressed like Danny from Grease, and just the visual of him in that outfit carried him through the whole show!
It’s going to be fun, though… and it’s quite good to do things in the mainstream every now and then… remind people you’re still there.
“dreaming in mainstream”
Now there’s a name for a website.
What a scoop Didy! Lovely interview so far, can’t wait to read the rest.
So Mr Holmes – yes you really are Sherlock in disguise, no? Acutally I can see you in a deerstalker smoking a pipe! My imagination just superimposed you onto Baker Street stalking the street with a pensive look on your face! I am taking it, this was your “exciting” interview. Wowzer! I was massively excited to see it and even more to read it! It’s going to be so exciting to see Mr Fielding doing his dance routine! And of course all us Booshies will vote for him I am sure. I can’t wait to be “punched in the face by rainbows”. That is one form of violence I can embrace! Well done on the interview you intrepid fox (it’s not just a rock pub in London!) and look forward to part 2! Hugs foxy manxx
He’s the best!
OMG! i really can’t wait its going to be so amazing
Can’t wait for the rest of this interview, and the dance tomorow night! Everyone be sure to vote, its for a good cause 🙂
Utterly fantastic interview, kudos to TVO. Go Noel, I just wish us fans stateside could vote easily. I know I’ll be searching YouTube endlessly for clips. Thanks to the fab crew at the TVO for everything you do!
Thanks for the great first part of the interview – can’t wait to see the show!
I love this interview 😀 I’m bummed I can’t vote online from here in the states, but I know everyone who can will! Great job TVO!
in the US… hope someone posts it on youtube 😦
This interview was a joy to read! 🙂 Really looking forward to the second part!
I’m so keen for this.
It will be on YouTube no doubt!
TVO when there is a video should add it to the next interview, people will be going nuts.
This is a revelation in the Fielding-dom,
Just from the reversal video we were going nuts about seeing his legs- as you never do- and the fact he was wearing Nikes!
Such uproar invaded the internet by god we/they were crazy.
I think people who work for TVO have the best job in the world! How do you get your contacts to all these amazing people?! You surely must get paid for this, even if you didn’t I’m sure it wouldnt matter all that much 😉
wow long comment.
I love you guys!
Glad you’re all so keen! For the record, we are not paid a single penny for running TVO. And we don’t actively chase freebies and/or guest list places either, though obviously we’re more than happy to receive them with open arms!
It’s entirely self funded (including domain name/web hosting costs), and we all have actual jobs and real lives to maintain at the same time. Its often the case that only two or three of us are actually available at any one time, as we juggle the hectic life we lead!
But in all honesty, we wouldn’t change it for the world. I don’t want to speak for my team too much, but personally, I got paid an ever-growing fortune when I discovered Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and later, The Mighty Boosh, and realised those weird standups I’d seen on telly for years were funny enough to want to find out more about.
The friends I’ve made on this journey, including the love of my life… and the adventures I’ve had, are truly incredible, and I’ll never cease to be grateful for them. We’ve been very fortunate in that by treating our subjects with the utmost respect, and focusing on their work and not their personal lives, we’ve been able to establish a rapport with so many of them that we hope to never take for granted.
Hope that clears things up a little… and just wait till you see part two!!!
“I don’t want to speak for my team too much” – Didy can speak for me any time he wants. The man is amazing. Everyone should know this.
Although I do accept credit cards if you decide to change your mind on the payment front, Mr Didymus sir.
Aggie, you are far too kind.
Mog, silence slave creature! Get back to work or no more stale cracker crumbs for you until March! 😉
That is amazing that you all support and run this site with actual lives to live!
And if I was in your positions too I wouldn’t change it either :))
This has officially become my favourite site and I hope it never dies for any cause or sickness that might plague it.
Keep it up guys :’)
I agree with Aggie, we’re all grateful that Didy had the idea for the website and asked us to join him in the adventure! x
absolutely amazing interview. I really can’t wait to read the second part. You are geniuses really.
Oh what a daisycake of a interview I can only imagine how the second half will evolve into a pick and mix garden, but I shalt not have to wait long. Good luck to Noel fielding in his dancing quest may he enjoy and rein supreme with his dancing toes.
i just watched it cause i missed it it looks like he really tried bless him he looked so tired yesterday im really proud of him
I am dying to see that short intro he made with his niece! Does anyone know where I can find it?