Kent Life interviews Joe Pasquale

Joe Pasquale in character as Sherlock Holmes with Ben Langley as Dr Watson

Joe Pasquale in character as Sherlock Holmes with Ben Langley as Dr Watson - Credit: Archant

From being crowned King of the Jungle in I’m a Celebrity… to his latest role as a comic Sherlock Holmes, Higham resident Joe Pasquale continues to surprise

Joe Pasquale might be best known for his distinctive voice, not least when shows like Twin Squeaks and Live and Squeaky capitalise on his trademark high-pitched tones. But explore further and you’ll find there is a whole other layer to the Kent funny man. The comedian, actor and television presenter belies his 52 years and sits as a rarity in the sometimes rather sterile world of ‘celebrity’ - a talent who has the rare gift of being able to turn his hand (and voice) to anything he likes.

That said, growing up in Essex, Pasquale’s ability to entertain remained somewhat dormant. Perhaps stints when he worked at the Department of Transport, Smithfields’ market and Ford’s factory in Dagenham were not the ideal backdrops for the harvesting of his talent.

“I knew the future wasn’t welding, that’s for sure,” Pasquale laughs. “I was always going to be more than a welder, I just kept applying for the wrong jobs.

“The truth be known, I was pretty shy growing up. I sat in a crowd and was happy there. I didn’t want too much fuss.

“I think as I grew older I began to reach out a bit more, discover who I was as an individual rather than a group of mates or one of four children in the family, and that’s when things started to happen.

“I think most of us are like that. It’s almost a lightbulb moment that arrives at a certain point in our lives.”

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For Pasquale, that moment came when he began appearing at holiday camps around Britain. He already had a wealth of experiences to draw upon and, combined with a quirky routine and instantly memorable voice, went on to star at the New Faces talent competition in 1987.

Wind forward a quarter of a decade and Joe is a constant in the entertainment world. Aside from a number of hugely popular stage shows, the comedian has also fronted ITV’s reboot of The Price is Right and been a favourite contestant on its Dancing on Ice competition.

And one of his biggest achievements was, of course, being crowned King of the Jungle in the fourth series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

“The jungle was a strange turning point for me,” he continues. “It gave me an angle outside comedy and opened some doors I hadn’t expected.

“I think past winners have been guilty of exaggerating the status of the show – yes, it’s a special experience once you’re in there, but it’s just a TV programme. But for me, it really did seem to take my work in a new direction.”

Having made his West End debut recently as King Arthur in Spamalot, and after playing the character of Leo Bloom for Mel Brooks’ hit The Producers, Pasquale is now embarking on a gruelling three-month, 68-date tour in Ha Ha Holmes! and The Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s a show that’s already receiving rave reviews – something he is, of course, accustomed to.

“I do look out for reviews, they’re important. I never take them too seriously but it’s nice to get feedback. I think anyone serious about their profession needs to listen to others,” he says.

“It’s a great show and playing Holmes is really outside of what I’ve done recently – it’s actually a character with a bit of kudos. But yes, this is a great play that draws the audience in and envelops them in the plot, and it’s a lot of fun.

“I’ve come to really like the rigidity of acting, it’s very different to stand-up where you have the ability to play around with things a lot more. It took a bit of getting used to at first, but now I like the trust you can invest in the script.”>>

This latest move epitomises Pasquale’s growing reputation as a risk-taker, both professionally and in life.

“I think ‘risk’ might be a bit strong, but I do love the challenge. I’m like that in all aspects of my life – I’ve run marathons, hiked up an active volcano in Guatemala, I fly aeroplanes and I do boxing, so it’s about pushing myself and trying new things. I think we should all be like that.”

And the Higham resident repels the notion that this might be the playing out of a midlife crisis. “I can see why some people may think that,” he chuckles.

“To me, it’s having a bit of time and freedom to explore things that have always fascinated me.

“That’s a luxury, I know, but I hope people also realise that I’m giving a bit of that time back now by embarking on this nationwide tour.”

That tour schedule led saw the show visit Margate on 9 October and it arrives back in Kent on 5 November in Tunbridge Wells.

“Being on the road is constant change, and quite exhausting, but we have some fantastic people involved – from writer Ben Langley, who is also Dr Watson, and Andrew Fettes – and the whole of the cast and crew, so it feels like a party. I don’t buy into the idea that every venue and every audience is different, but each performance varies and that’s a real thrill.

“And coming back to Kent, no matter what it’s for, is always really special. I’ve lived here for over 20 years, and that means I can drop in local references, ‘in’ gags and other bits that the locals get.

“We try to do that for every performance, but it’s certainly easier on home soil. It’s a deeper connection with the audience and you can really feel them investing in you as much as the character himself.

“And I do adore Kent. It’s a beautiful county, with some really warm people. For me, it’s about the freedom – you are connected to London but this is a life in the countryside. I love walking the dogs, and adore spending time on the coast.

“It’s really embracing – why would I want to live anywhere else?” n

Joe Pasquale in Kent

See Joe Pasquale on stage in Ha Ha Holmes! and The Hound of the Baskervilles:

3 November, 7.30pm at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley, Tickets £18-£24, 0844 871 7620 or visit: www.atgtickets.com/shows/ha-ha-holmes/the-churchill-theatre-bromley

5 November 2013, 7.30pm at The Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells TN1 2LU. Tickets £20, 01892 530 613 or visit: www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk/a-ha-holmes-and-the-hound-of-the-baskervilles (see panel right)

15 November, 7.30pm, The Orchard Theatre, Dartford Tickets £21, 01322 220000 or visit: www.orchardtheatre.co.uk

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