Steve Delaney (Count Arthur Strong)
Interview with Steve Delaney
1. Who is Count Arthur Strong?
Well he’s whatever people make of him really. In a nutshell he’s an ex variety ‘star’ who’s wonderfully mistimed variety career, beginning in the late 50s, just as the variety circuit was gasping its last, has meant he’s always been chasing it. He played tiny parts in ‘Juliet Bravo’ and ‘All Creatures Bright and Beautiful’, (whatever it’s called). He lives a life based on those minor triumphs, plus some other ones he may or may not have been in. How much more does one need to know? Watch the telly series!
2. Count Arthur Strong was first created in the 1980’s, how has the character evolved since then?
He’s evolved quite a lot I think. I’ve grown into him for one thing. My approach to Arthur was never what you’d call academic and he’s evolved over a good long period of time and I’m pleased that with the great management set up I have in place from Komedia Entertainment, I had that time. Each live show I’ve done, and I’m told that’s some 350 or so performances, I’ve found out a little bit more about him, and all these bits have added to the sum total. If I look back at early footage of Arthur, from when I started, he looks like the bones of something. He has to continue to develop; otherwise it’s all about reproducing and that’s not as much fun or as interesting.
3. Did you always envisage making the transition from radio to television?
Not so much a transition from radio, but I always had a TV sitcom in my mind. I’ve absolutely loved doing seven series of the radio show and when I was doing it that’s all I was thinking about. It was a big undertaking. Writing and performing the radio series and touring every year, just about filled my diary for the last seven years so that’s been fantastic. I still hope to find the time to do some specials for BBC Radio 4. I love the good TV sitcoms, Steptoe and Son, Hancock, Fawlty Towers, and always thought Arthur would sit well in the right one.
4. What was is like working with Graham Linehan?
Which one was he…?
Seriously though... it was fantastic. I had the best time since I started ‘doing’ Arthur some 15 years ago. To have someone like Graham to lean on through it all was tremendous and there’s no one I’d rather have worked with. But don’t tell him that. He and our producer Richard Boden are a great team and just took so much of the pressure off me.
5. After creating and playing the character for the last 20 years was it difficult to share writing responsibilities with someone else for the TV series?
It was different, but different is good. I have worked alone and consistently as Arthur for a long time, and you get into routines and bad habits because you only have to think of yourself. Working with someone else may take a bit of time, and it should. It should be a thought through process. But we had a great time working together and a lot of laughs. Really, Graham has such a good understanding of Arthur that there are a lot of things I don’t have to worry about anymore. I trust him and his aims for the show totally and he knows that. That takes so much pressure off me. Plus, he is bloody good isn’t he!
6. What trait, above all, do you most admire in Arthur?
His dogged determination.
7. What do you do to get into character as Count Arthur?
Nothing - put his suit, shoes and hat on.
8. Do you share any similarities with Count Arthur?
I’ve often said that Arthur is an amalgam of all my short comings, starting with bad posture. My wife would probably be the best person to answer this question.
9. Why do you think Count Arthur inspires such a dedicated following from fans?
That, I really don’t know. I’m loath to analyse it actually. I think maybe people recognise something of themselves or someone they know in him. And maybe because he often says things in a very direct way and people admire that?
10. What do you think fans of the radio series will make of the TV show?
I hope they absolutely love it. But... some of them may not and I understand that. In comedy, what works for one person may not work for another. That’s the nature of it. It’s out of my control really.
11. At the end of a day’s filming, do you find it difficult to shake off the character of Count Arthur?
Not remotely. I’ve always had a healthy overview of what I do and although Arthur is in my thoughts often and to a degree part of me, I’ve always been able to compartmentalise what I do.