Impact Interviews Nathan Barley

It’s like Christmas when someone grants an interview to Impact, but when it’s actually someone reasonably well-known we touch cloth – or rather James Sanderson did. Nicholas Burns is best known for playing Nathan Barley, but has also appeared in The Mighty Boosh, The I.T. Crowd, Nighty Night and a host of theatre productions. He is now starring as the Hotness in ITV’s No Heroics and Tom in the Neil La Bute
play Fat Pig…

When you first devised Nathan Barley, did you ever think it would be such a cult hit?
Well, no, we didn’t really, we didn’t know what kind of impact it would have, but it really has a very devoted, small cult following. I can’t walk around certain areas in London without people shouting Nathan-like idiocy at me, which is quite bizarre at times, but good fun. It is something I am really proud of and really loved doing.

Were you worried at all that you would be typecast as Nathan, do you think he has closed any doors for you?
I don’t think so, he is quite different to a lot of the parts I have played. I don’t think he has but who knows, it’s not really for me to say. I hope I am far enough away from Nathan that people can see there is other stuff going on and that I can play other characters. I hope it hasn’t typecast me – the part I am playing at the moment is very different.

What is your favourite comedy

I used to watch Blackadder and The Young Ones when I was growing up, those where my first comedy loves. In recent years I have been a big fan of Chris Morris’s stuff, the Office and the Mighty Boosh. Over in the US things like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development.

Are you more comfortable treading the boards or in an Air-Conditioned studio in London?
They are very rarely Air-Conditioned! I love doing both, they are just completely different and offer real variety. Before this play I hadn’t done one in 3 years. It’s nice to be back doing something that I did when I started out.

What attracted you to Neil La Bute’s Fat Pig?
They came to me and asked me about playing the part of Tom. I went to see it and then read the play. It was a great play, a good part and threw up interesting ideas. I thought, lets have a go. It is a real challenge, I haven’t played an American professionally before and Tom never leaves the stage so it really is an exercise in focus. I thought it was the right thing to do at this moment in time.

Barley and Benidorm both seem to take the piss out of idiots, people with websites and working class holidaymakers respectively. Is this a hidden agenda?

I think Barley does take the piss out of those people, but I am not sure that Benidorm does. I don’t think it’s sneery, it just presents a funny situation for a comedy. Barley absolutely definitely did, it was lampooning all those idiots who have websites who do nothing apart from produce videos and graffiti shit. They think they are Banksy or some kind of urban guerrilla. Those are the people who absolutely deserve to have the piss ripped out of them.

What is the easiest way to get on TV?
Be a bit mental and go on the X-Factor. If you are really bad at singing and completely deluded about your ability, they will definitely broadcast your performance.

If you could do it all again, what
would you do differently?

I don’t think I would do anything differently. I think I have been very lucky to play some really great parts and I hope I continue to be.

James Sanderson


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