COMEDY legends Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer have taken 25 years to come up with their latest project – Vulcan 7 – and they’re premiering it in Guildford.
The duo who shot to fame as punk Vyvyan and hippy Neil in The Young Ones went on to help create The Comic Strip Presents and many other comedy staples, but Ade says they couldn’t have imagined how it would all pan out back in the 1980s.
“That was never a consideration, we were only ever trying to have fun,” he insists. “The people we were trying to amuse first were ourselves and everything that came off the back of that was just very good fortune really.”
The pair, along with Rik Mayall and Christopher Ryan, changed the course of TV sitcoms in 1982 with the anarchic Young Ones based in a student house, and have remained close ever since.
“I reckon Nigel and I last worked together on the Comic Strip about six years ago, when we did a Famous Five spoof, Five Go to Rehab,” recalls Ade. “But we’ve known each other for years. We sort of grew up together. “We met just as we were coming out of university so we were both still living the student lifestyle along with the rest of the Comic Strip, so it’s sort of been our family.”
Vulcan 7 introduces us to Gary Savage and Hugh Delavois, who were students at RADA together. Now in their 60s, they meet in an Icelandic wasteland, on the set of a fantasy movie.
“We’ve been looking for a play for about 25 years!” says Ade. “That’s no exaggeration – we’ve been sending each other scripts and we just never found anything that was right. So, about two years ago, we decided we could write something better ourselves. And we wrote Vulcan 7. It’s come together very happily.
“While we were writing this, we spent a lot of time discussing places and situations we have known as actors. I’ve done things like Star Wars recently, and I got an eye on how long people hang around. You have to be ready to deliver your bit, ‘probably within the next hour or seven hours, we’re not quite sure yet’.”
Hugh (Nigel) has had a plodding career but has landed the role of Vulcan’s butler – a small but regular role – and he’s making his seventh film for the franchise. Gary (Adrian) is a one-time Hollywood A-lister who has fallen on lean times, and is playing a guest monster with one word in the script.
“We chose to focus on the actor’s life because we know a lot about it,” explains Ade. “Vulcan 7 is a comedy about how people measure themselves up against each other, particularly when they’ve known each other for a very long time.
“It’s also about people being obsessed with what they do which is a metaphor for any kind of job really – it’s just we know more about the acting job.”
It also helped working with long-time collaborator Nigel.
Having written loads of material, including TV series Bottom with the late Mayall, he says: “I’ve had a lot of writing partnerships and I enjoy it as a form: you have someone to bounce off.
“I write on my own as well and it can be very easy to get stuck and distracted. If no one’s giving you anything to work with, it’s very easy to focus on polishing the piano.
“But for a partnership to work and you to inspire each other, you have to find the right person. Writers Galton and Simpson said that within any partnership, you have one sitter and one pacer. I’ve always been the sitter,”
Vulcan 7 will debut at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, from Wednesday 19 September until Saturday 29 September.