A chat with Fatboy
In our latest exclusive interview, John caught up with Ricky Norwood to find out more about him and his nomination for Best Newcomer in the National Television Awards
Ricky Norwood first appeared on our screens in the first series of the online spinoff EastEnders: E20, playing Arthur ‘Fatboy’ Chubb and is one of the two remaining original “gang of four” that transferred to the regular show.
He has been nominated for the National Television Awards in the “Best Newcomer” category, and we caught up with him this week to find out a bit more ...
Welcome Ricky. How do you feel about being nominated for Best Newcomer in the National Television Awards?
I’m flabbergasted, and really can’t believe it. It’s an honour to be nominated for an NTA – it’s an award that goes across all of television, and doesn’t just concentrate on the soaps. It’s an amazing, crowning achievement of the year.
What do you think of the competition you’re up against in the category?
It’s a very strong set of contenders who are up for the award – it’s going to be a very tough competition. I wish them all the luck in the world because I know what they’re going through and how nervous they are. All of us are newcomers in our established shows that are loved by the Nation. Whoever wins will be “the one”, and I wish them all well.
Does voting go right up to the wire?
Absolutely, it’s all the way up to the awards. Everyone on the set is wishing me luck as well, and giving me hell at the same time. Adam Woodyatt has told me that if I don’t win I shouldn’t bother coming in to work! :-D I’m really starting to feel the pressure a bit!
To vote for Ricky in the NTAs, visit www.nationaltvawards.com
Let’s talk about you. How did you get into acting and your role in E20?
I started performance through dancing, enjoying the stage and the performance in itself. I went to an after-school drama school when I was 11 at Stratford Theatre Royal, and met some great people such as Kate Williams (who was in EastEnders last year playing Liz Turner). She gave some fantastic acting tips that I took through to college and that I’m still using until this day now.
I love performing – street dance was my first passion. In drama I soon came to realise that in acting you can be yourself when you’re off-stage but turn into a completely different person and become whoever you want to be – a mild-manner quiet boy at home, but a loud lairy rapper on stage, and other crazy stuff like that!
I got as many fingers in the entertainment pie as possible – I was writing for myself, hosting and presenting, and I started a production company with two of my friends. And then I found an agent as a result of all of this.
I’ve done a couple of “normal” jobs in the past, but I found that once I’d had a taste of performing it was hard to come away from it. I worked at Dixons for a while, but gave that up to become an usher at the Theatre Royal – less money, but back in the business and getting a chance to meet the other actors to absorb things.
Expression is a form of therapy for me – I can put my troubles away and put my head into someone else’s brain for a bit.
Has Fatboy changed much to suit the audience of the BBC1 show?
No, I don’t think he’s changed as such, but he’s developed and is continuing to develop. The more you see of him the more you discover. He’s not a one-dimensional character, you can’t pigeon-hole to say he’s a slime-ball, or anything like that. You get to see these different sides to him through the way he has scenes with other characters, like with Dot, or the fantastic scene in the Queen Vic recently with Kat, when he and Mercy brought them a cake after Kat “lost” her baby.
Do you know what other personas Arthur has used in the past?
Well, he grew up in a well-off type of house, and used to emulate guys he saw on the television, that sort of thing. He was an awkward kind of child and so adopted these different personas. The one he’s found that protects him in the big bad world was the “street mask”.
Living around this sort of thing you see that in the school yard it’s typically the “haves” who get picked on, instead of the “have nots”. You see it all over the country, in London, Birmingham, Manchester or wherever. You see gangs or groups forming with a particular creed or manner to them, and it’s natural to want to be accepted and be in the circle.
How much input do you get into Fatboy’s speech? Do you change the script?
Well I get the script that comes down on high, which includes some Fatboy lines in it; “Baby girl” is a phrase that appears a lot. The majority of the time I’ll take the text, see what’s wanted from it and then give as much as what was written but with a Fatboy slant to it. Fatboy has a unique rhythm when he speaks – it’s all in the tempo, the pitch – it’s all over the place.
So to make it sound viable I do change the script. And I’m very privileged that they trust me to do it.
Who do you enjoy working with on set, and is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you really want to?
That’s a really hard one! I love working with Tameka Empson [Kim], Jessie Wallace [Kat] and Shane Richie [Alfie]. Charlie Hawkins [Darren] and Himesh Patel [Tamwar] are great as well. There’s a fantastic chemistry within the cast at the moment. It’s brilliant being there.
I’ve recently seen Charlie Brooks [Janine] on-set. It’s totally surreal to see her change from lovely Charlie Brooks into the mad woman that is Janine at the drop of a hat and to watch that happen in front of your eyes is totally crazy.
Getting to work with June Brown is fantastic and great fun. Whoever had the idea of putting those two together in scenes needs a clap. It shows another side to Fatboy – he becomes more Arthur-like and you see his caring nature and heart appear. The comedy is there though as well when the odd slang word appears in their chat so that Dot doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.
I was lucky to have scenes with Barbara Windsor and Lacey Turner before they both left the show, and it’s brilliant to work with Steve McFadden. It’s a great job and so exciting!
I’d love to work with Lindsey Coulson a little bit more, and have some more scenes with Rudolph Walker. We had a couple with him in E20, and another couple in EastEnders and he’s such a great person to be around.
Working on EastEnders is always a new experience, and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.
So go on, tease us. What’s coming up for Fatboy?
Alright then. Well he’s going to learn to fly a helicopter and ....
Nah seriously, there’s loads of stuff in the pipeline for Fatboy at the moment. One of the things I love though is to surprise the audience; there are certain things and scenes that you don’t expect to come from Fatboy. And I love it when people stop me in the street and say that they love the such-and-such a scene and that it was a surprise. The scenes with Dot went down really well.
I’m really excited though about what’s coming up.
If you weren’t playing Fatboy, which character would you like to play?
A couple of them, from modern times it’d have to be Jack Bauer from 24. You’ve got to love Jack.
And an older one – Columbo! When I was growing up my Nan used to make me watch the show and I kind of grew up with it. I love to watch the repeats, and getting to say, “Just more one thing ...” would be great.
“Just one more thing”. Is there any question you wish we’d asked, and how would you have answered it?
Would I like to stay for a lot longer? The answer to that is Yes – the longer I can stay and develop, the better for me!
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Ricky!
To vote for Ricky in the National Television Awards, please visit www.nationaltvawards.com