Norman Lovett takes Red Dwarf's male Holly offline

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The funniest talking computer British comedy has seen is now finally, officially off-screen.

Comedian Norman Lovett has pulled the plug on Holly, the dead-pan virtual companion from classic sitcom Red Dwarf. But where does a man boldly go once he's already navigated the vastness of space?

How about Deptford?

Norman will re-acquaint himself with one of his early gig venues next Thursday (May 28), when the hang-dog stand-up comedian, actor and writer appears at The Albany Theatre.

He said: "It's been at least 25 years since I performed there early in my career, so it's going to be nice to go back.

"I'm going to be doing what I've been doing for 30 years - going out in front of an audience, making them laugh and enjoying it myself.

"Red Dwarf is the thing I'm known for and I don't regret it. There were some smashing jokes that still stand up today.

"To be known as Holly the talking computer is very good, but I hope to leave more than that when I go. Hopefully something to do with acting, and something I've written myself. But I'm going to keep plodding on."

Norman appeared as Holly in the first two series of the space-travelling cult show in the late-eighties, was replaced by a female alter-ego for a few years, and returned in series seven.

He's now called time on this incarnation after a fall-out before the filming of new series Back To Earth, which aired last month.

He said: "Last year, I was told I was doing something and to put aside some dates for January and February.

"I asked them to let me know before Christmas, but no one got in touch. They eventually told me the script had arrived and I wasn't in it. They must have known before that.

"When I watched it, I was glad I wasn't in it. I thought it just wasn't funny.

"In my heart, I wanted it to do well, and they'd made such as fuss about it and the new cameras with high definition. I thought 'Stop going on about that. Will it have a heartbeat? Will it have a soul?'

"I thought Craig was the best. His acting has come along a lot since he's been in Coronation Street. The rest I thought were going through the motions. Back to Earth? They want to go back to reality and back to basics.

"I said I'd never be working for them again. It's just not worth it.

"There was the movie in 2001 and the messing around that went with that as well.

"Star Trek has managed to knock out a brilliant movie, but Red Dwarf can't get their act together and sort one out."

While Norman is best known for his comedy acting, he's also dabbled in voice overs, TV writing, corporate speaking and radio since entering the stand-up circuit in his thirties during the '70s punk era.

He even supported The Clash at a gig in Derby, before getting a lift back to London with a roadie.

He said: "The fans were all very nice to me. It was a fantastic night.

"In many ways, I started because there was a movement going on which was anti the old comics. It was a lot of rubbish, because a comedian is a comedian."

The comedy world is full of snappy quip-merchants, but Norman prefers a slower pace.

He said: "If I want to talk about pairing up my socks, and what happens to those socks when they go in the washing machine, I'll do that.

"Someone told me I have funny bones. I can't be very quick on my feet. I just chat to the audience.

"If I went on Have I Got News for You I'd be completely lost. I might get a laugh but I don't know whether they'd keep it in the show.

"I was on Just a Minute once on Radio Four and I was alright on that. I think I spoke about Lidls a lot."

Norman may be a different sort of funnyman, but he bristles at the suggestion that comedy isn't what it used to be.

He said: "What amazes me is that people like that bloke that wrote Birds of a Feather and John Cleese have been saying there's no good comedy now like there was in the past.

"It wasn't all that brilliant. Some of it has dated and it looks terrible.

"To say there's no good comedy now is unfair. I thought The Office was hilarious and The IT Crowd was funny. It's much harder now with reality TV shows and there's less time and attention given to young writers.

"These people should just watch themselves."

Norman is scaling back his stand-up commitments to concentrate on writing. He is working on scripts for TV, and is throwing himself into his autobiography.

He said: "I've got quite a few 1,000 words down on my laptop, but I don't know whether the lawyers will need to be involved because I'm a very honest person and I say what I think."

Norman Lovett is performing at the Albany on Thursday May 28 from 8pm. Tickets cost £8 in advance or £10 on the door. Call 0208 692 4446 or go to thealbany.org.uk. His live Bags and Biscuits DVD is out now.

30 Comments

Folding Bike said:

Red Dwarf Back to Earth was funnier than series 8 but that isn't saying much. Norman knew that series 8 was stupid - he kept saying in the commentary (on the DVD which I returned to the shops don't you worry) that he didn't like it - the only person involved with the production who ever told the truth about series 8 being terrible. All the rest were too busy keeping their jobs safe to admit how bad it was. And Norman didn't get the Back to Earth gig as a result. Well good. He's better than them anyway. Go Norm!

Norman said:

I'm sorry, I take everything I have said about GNP back. They're actually really lovely people and their actions are totally understandable. I've just been grumpy for the past decade because I am impotent :-(

Craig Charles said:

Norm can't act.

Elephant Man said:

I would like a cheeseburger meal with a thickshake for the drink thanks.

Kirkfan said:

Star Trek was a fantastic film, two thumbs up! (and a hidden third, if you know what I mesn!)

Normaddict said:

I went to one of his live shows recently, and I taped it. It's great for getting in the mood with the missus, Norm always gets me hot and heavy.

Waiter Joe said:

Norm, you ran out on your restaurant bill last night. You owe Dungeon Master Restaurant and Bondage Palace $580. Thanks.

Broken Computer Man said:

I vomited on my laptop when I saw your picture, Norm. I want you to replace my computer.

Plagiarising man said:

Here are my original, non copied thoughts on BtE-

What amazes me is that people like that bloke that wrote Birds of a Feather and John Cleese have been saying there's no good comedy now like there was in the past.

It wasn't all that brilliant. Some of it has dated and it looks terrible. To say there's no good comedy now is unfair. I thought The Office was hilarious and The IT Crowd was funny. It's much harder now with reality TV shows and there's less time and attention given to young writers.

These people should just watch themselves.

John said:

The issue with large government is how you put a cap on how much is spent? If it's acceptable to have a large welfare state, at what point do you stop and say "enough"? The welfare state can easily become prone to just being a source of government handouts to people needed to return the government to power, rather than to those who actually need it- and that defeats the need for a welfare state in the first place IMO.

Simon B said:

Most of the people posting here are being really mature and mocking a clearly depressed man. Well done.

Moe said:

I was having a picnic, and suddenly my picanic basket was stolen! I turn around and what do I see? Yes, Norman Lovett, eating my lunch just further up the hill. When I confronted him, he merely said "You stole MY lunch" and then ran away, kicking cats and birds as he went.

The Moon said:

Norm's impression of me isn't very good.

Norman said:

@ Simon B- Thankyou for your kind words. I have been a bit down recently because of my impotence, and your support means a lot to me. Hey, are you single? Perhaps you can come over and help me with my particular problem! ;-)

Jim said:

Hey Norm, it's Jim, your house sitter. I hate to tell you this way, but the parrot you bought from the pet store was actually dead at the time. The only reason it's standing up is because its feet were nailed to the perch.

The Nostrilomo said:

Your impression of me is even worse than your impression of the moon.

Simon B said:

@ Simon B- Thankyou for your kind words. I have been a bit down recently because of my impotence,

Why can't people appreciate that depression makes people seem detached and antisocial? He doesn't mean to be actually disagreeable, but depressed people do take a negative outlook and after a while it can be wearying on those around him. But it's not like you have to live with him or look after him, so cut the guy some slack. Whoopidoo he spoke his mind about Red Dwarf, but it was stuff that needed to be said. Red Dwarf 8 was awful, for crying out loud. Don't take it so fricking personally.

Ah what am I doing, trying to reason with bullies. Forget it then.

Food Confused said:

I got into an argument over whether chopsticks have to be used when eating Japanese food. I reckon they're optional, but my friend thought that you can be sent to jail if you use a fork. What are your thoughts, Norm?

TV said:

Norm and a talking dog lol.

James Picko said:

lo I remember red dwarf, who else does? They kept changing the names of the skutters though. They started off as stabbim and something else, then they became pinky and perky and then they named them all bob! Those were the days and yeah i didn't forget to say the word smeg. SMEG! Classic comedy man.

Adrian H said:

LO, Red Dwarf was classic, bud. Ah man, if I could remember something from it I'd quote it right now. Hey remember that song when Holly was all sad going through the corridors? "Do not forsake me oh my darling!" It was a great comedy though seriously, way before it became about trying to make "SMEG" into the Dwarf equivalent of Wayne's World "SCHWING" and all that. Just good and simple comedy was when Dwarf was best.

"Oh don't forget me oh my darling!" I'm gonna be singing that all day now!!

Adrian H said:

LO, Red Dwarf was classic, bud. Ah man, if I could remember something from it I'd quote it right now. Hey remember that song when Holly was all sad going through the corridors? "Do not forsake me oh my darling!" It was a great comedy though seriously, way before it became about trying to make "SMEG" into the Dwarf equivalent of Wayne's World "SCHWING" and all that. Just good and simple comedy was when Dwarf was best.

"Oh don't forget me oh my darling!" I'm gonna be singing that all day now!!

Kate 17 said:

The baby is yours, Norm.

Doug Naylor said:

I have put off visiting this article because of what has been going down, but now is the time to say this- you are a whining idiot who doesn't know what is good for him. Nobody likes you Norm, please just stop talking before you trip over your tongue.

Elephant Man said:

Where's my cheeseburger meal?? The thickshake is probably warm by now :-(

Generic Bully 1 said:

>Ah what am I doing, trying to reason with bullies. Forget it then.

Give me your lunch money.

The Truth said:

Well, let's have a look at what is on the Red Dwarf website...

"During this period, towards the end of 2008, Norman - who had been given dates to pencil in his diary in case his involvement could be worked out - insisted on a definite yes or no answer, was he in or not? As it stood, the Holly character wasn’t in the script and so the answer had to be ‘no’. Had the comedian held on, Holly might have made it back after all - while there was no room for Mac in the end, Chloë did make a top-secret return in the final shooting script, creating a gob-smacking finale."

Norman said:

am sorry Doug Naylor

Adrian H said:

LO, Red Dwarf was classic, bud. Ah man, if I could remember something from it I'd quote it right now. Hey remember that song when Holly was all sad going through the corridors? "Do not forsake me oh my darling!" It was a great comedy though seriously, way before it became about trying to make "SMEG" into the Dwarf equivalent of Wayne's World "SCHWING" and all that. Just good and simple comedy was when Dwarf was best.

"Oh don't forget me oh my darling!" I'm gonna be singing that all day now!!

Adrian H said:

LO, Red Dwarf was classic, bud. Ah man, if I could remember something from it I'd quote it right now. Hey remember that song when Holly was all sad going through the corridors? "Do not forsake me oh my darling!" It was a great comedy though seriously, way before it became about trying to make "SMEG" into the Dwarf equivalent of Wayne's World "SCHWING" and all that. Just good and simple comedy was when Dwarf was best.

"Oh don't forget me oh my darling!" I'm gonna be singing that all day now!!