Entertainment UK

Emmerdale’s Tony Audenshaw says his funniest scenes are stripping in Woolpack


For  a man of a certain age, stripping off in front of millions of fans might be a daunting prospect.

But it is all in a day’s work for Emmerdale’s Tony Audenshaw who has had to bare all in the Woolpack not once but three times in his 20 years playing bumbling ladies’ man Bob Hope.

Tony is celebrating his 20th anniversary in the soap and says the show-stopping bum-baring scenes in the Woolpack are some of his all-time favourites.

“I don’t get my shirt off on the beach a lot of the time,” laughs the 56-year-old. “But I think I have done three strips in the Woolpack over the years.

“The first one was way back – it was to the Man 2 Man song Male Stripper. The idea was that at the end of the scene I had to have a bare bottom.

Bob bares it all in the Woolpack

“I had to have a cup at the front to cover me up so I stuck this cup on, got ready and then they ran out of time and never did the shot.

“The stripping came up again a couple of years ago and I wasn’t in great shape. They said you have got to get your kit off again. I mean what can you do in two weeks? The second time I did it I was in quite good shape as I had done a lot of cycling. You just have to imagine that no one is looking!”

And for that Tony would need a good imagination as Emmerdale is now vying for the title of Britain’s favourite soap, watched by millions of fans each week and winning a slew of awards.

Even Tony admits that the show, originally based around a small Yorkshire farming community, has come a long way since he first walked into the village.

He explains: “It doesn’t seem like 20 years – it seems like 20 minutes. Time flies when you are having fun though and I have had lots of fun. If you enjoy your work it is not a chore.

“What is amazing about the show is how the perception of it has changed from the time I started in it until now. For the first few years it didn’t matter how good it was, it was a bit like the Liberal party – it was always in third place behind Corrie and EastEnders.

“And now for the last seven or eight years Emmerdale has been at the top, and has earned its place.”

Bob in the Woolpack

Tony grew up in Denton, Lancashire, and fell into acting by chance thanks to his dad’s love of amateur dramatics.

He answered a phone call meant for his dad asking if he was free to join the cast of a local society’s production of Hello Dolly. As Tony had nothing else to do at the time he agreed to take to the stage and later went to drama school.

But like most actors Tony had his fair share of lean times and knockbacks before landing the role of Bob.

Married to Ruth and with two children George and Em, Tony was torn between heading to London, where most big acting jobs were, or staying closer to home and taking parts in TV ads so he could spend more time with his kids.

“You’ve got to build rhinoceros skin,” he says. “I purposely targeted TV commercials because they paid very well and you didn’t have to work all the time so I could be at home. I once dressed up as the British Coal cat.

“There was a commercial for British Coal and they had a cat sat by the fireplace. I’d be walking round a department store in Manchester dressed as this cat. In the week it would be stuffed with straw in the window but at the weekend I wore it walking round the store getting leathered by kids. It was itchy. It was an unpleasant job but it was showbiz.”

Ladies man Bob and Hazel

He would even sleep in his car while working away just to save cash – but whatever job he took he made sure it was linked to his acting dream.

He worked at Thorpe Park, first as an entertainer in character costumes, and then writing and directing shows. While working there he got the call to say he had won the role of Bob Hope.

He says: “I am very lucky. I had a week when I was up for five different jobs, they were good jobs and I remember thinking I have got to get one at least, but I didn’t get any. So Emmerdale came at a time when I was thinking ‘why am I doing this?’”

But if former co-star Deena Payne, who played Bob’s wife Viv, had her way, Tony would never have got the part. She didn’t hit it off with Tony at his audition – and told the producers so. But thankfully they ignored her.

Deena Payne & Tony Audenshaw at the British Soap Awards

Tony recalls: “I had an audition piece and it was Bob selling knickers and tights in Viv’s shop, flirting with her. It was fast business patter. They saw five different people who they matched with Deena but she didn’t like me. Thankfully they went against that and we built a great partnership.”

Bob and Viv went on to provide some of Emmerdale’s funniest and most memorable moments – often playing on the fact that Bob had been married seven times to five different women and fathered seven children.

“My first day was Bob kissing Viv because he had had a one night stand with her. So it was a bit like ‘thanks for last night’ and Viv comes out in a silk negligee” he recalls.

“We had a great story when Bob was working for Naughty Nylons. They had a catalogue where you could win a holiday.

“Well Bob never had any money but he had promised Viv a cruise. Viv had fabulous legs so he took a picture of her legs and superimposed someone else’s head on her body to try to win the cruise. They had quite a fruity sex life and were always dressing up.

“There was one quite serious episode and somebody stormed in and Bob was dressed as Indiana Jones with leather chaps, a leather jacket, leather underpants and a whip.”

Tony Audenshaw with his late wife Ruth in Sept 2016

But behind the laughs at work, Tony faced true sadness when his wife Ruth was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She died in April 2017.

He now devotes much of his spare time to raising money and awareness for charity. He joined the Emmerdale marathon team not long after starting on the show, supporting Blood Cancer UK. He has run more than 50 marathons and holds a bizarre record.

He laughs: “I used to be fast. In 2004 I did sub three hours, but I am a lot slower now. It was my job to get the charities on the telly or in the papers, so when I slowed down a bit I started doing them in fancy dress. I did Papa Smurf, Tarzan, a schoolboy, a baby and I have got couple of Guinness World records – one for doing the fastest marathon dressed as a baby.

“As I’ve got older everything aches more, it is a bit more difficult. I did my last one about 18 months ago, but I did 17 miles on Sunday which was painful but still enjoyable.”

Tony is determined to get the most out of life. “I tend to be a positive person like Bob is. If there are two weather forecasts and one is sunnier I will look at that,” he says. “I love it at work, it is brilliant. Whether I will last another 20 years, who knows?”


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *