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In Front of the Telly with Warwick Davis: 'I’m not shy of telling them when they’re stupid'
Warwick Davis talks about the forthcoming Willow TV series, daytime quiz show Tenable and classic children’s TV as he returns to screens in new kids' TV show Master Moley.
Star Wars, Harry Potter, his own sitcom, a quiz show, a Bear Grylls adventure and now the star of children’s TV series Master Moley - Warwick Davis has pretty much done it all.
And despite turning 50 this year, Warwick isn’t slowing down. Next year, he begins work on Disney's highly anticipated TV series based on the film Willow, in which he will reprise the role of the eponymous sorcerer. The series will be set 10 years after the events of the original movie, and filming will commence in Wales next year, 33 years on from the Ron Howard and George Lucas classic’s cinema release.
Currently promoting Master Moley By Royal Invitation, a 30-minute children’s TV special, we caught up with Warwick to talke about classic kids TV, the return of Willow and hilarious bloopers from his ITV quiz Tenable.
What was your favourites children’s TV show growing up?
I distinctly remember Bagpuss. Such fabulous characters and great voice work in that. I used to like, what was the one that took place on the Moon? The Clangers! I loved The Clangers. The Flumps, I loved if anyone remembers that. And Trumpton and Camberwick Green. The animation and attention to detail in those was fabulous.
What TV shows did you love to watch with your own children?
I wouldn’t say they were favourites, because they would drive me insane as kids watch things over and over. Things like Teletubbies used to cave my head in! Annabelle my daughter loved Teletubbies, but fortunately she’s now 23 and grown out of it.
And my son Harrison grew up with the Tweenies. But the funny thing about that was one day he came to work with me on acting job and I went for a costume fitting for a character I was doing and it was the same workshop where they did The Tweenies. So Harrison saw a Tweenie in real life and he was terrified. There’s nothing Tweenie about them in real life, it was about 7ft tall. And ever since then he really went off them, which was a relief to me.
You’re turning Willow into a TV series next year. Why do you think it has endured?
Because I think it was such a well-realised world with such incredible characters inhabiting it. And the theme of Willow was this unlikely hero achieving great things because he believed in them. And that resonated throughout the ages, throughout the world. Whatever your culture, wherever you come from, that stands true. I think that was behind its success.
And why are we bringing it back as a series? Because we do have this world established and huge fan base of people who have grown up with it and passed it down to their kids. Now we get to enter that world again and explore it and play in it.
Your quiz show Tenable is a true cult hit. Are you surprised?
I am very surprised. When you take part in anything you hope people will like it, but with Tenable, after one or two series, it snowballed. Wherever I went, people were saying they loved the show. It wasn’t just people who you thought would watch it. It was also kids coming home from school and watching it.
I’ve noticed also since we’ve not been going out this year, Tenable got a whole new audience of people who’ve never seen it before.
I think what’s great about the show is that you can learn stuff and I never take it too seriously. I deliver the gameplay, the rules and story of the show, but I’m also not shy of telling them when they’re stupid and when they give a silly answer. I think people like the honesty and and candidness. That’s always been my aim. Keep it fun and keep it light.
And fans love the moments where you lose it with the giggles...
Some of those lists they give me – they do it on purpose now as well. The ones about birds. There is something about me saying 'blue tit 'on telly, but I can’t do it. It’s fine in this room now, but when I’m in the studio and those words come up, I start sniggering like a schoolboy.
It doesn’t help when you have the whole camera team laughing. And then the contestants look annoyed and that makes me laugh even more. We’ve had some fun times on Tenable. I’m looking forward to making some more.
Is there anything left on your TV bucket list?
I feel very lucky to have ticked everything off. Doctor Who. Top Gear. It was going back to Willow, but that’s ticked off now. I can tick that next year when we start filming. I used to want a chat show, but there aren’t many out there right now, so I’m not holding out for that. Just to be working is a joy. I know a lot of actors don’t have work right now, it’s a real tough time for the industry and I feel extremely grateful that I’m still able to work and I’ve still got things going on right now.
What's your new series Master Moley about?
I voice Master Moley and the special tells the story of Moley and his journey from being a big-hearted mole, but one who lacks confidence.
He doesn’t really stand out in the mole world, which is hopefully something lots of people can relate to - especially kids. The key message is you don’t have to be extraordinary, but you can achieve great things.
The special introduces the whole concept of Mole Town, which exists under our feet. Moles live on every continent on the planet. They’re everywhere. No matter where you are on Earth, you could have moles beneath you. So the show has a real international flavour. It has a lot of diversity and inclusivity.