George Sunday/Theroman Season One – Five
The star of Father Ted brought the puzzled superhero Thermoman to wonderful life.
Ardal O’Hanlon said he didn’t much enjoy wearing Thermoman’s lycra suit: “It’s a bugger to get on and off,” he revealed on the BBC web site (Original link here). “You’d think I’d be used to it after all this time but it still takes me 10 minutes just to get my arms in.”
Despite the concept of the show – a superhero in suburban Britain – Ardal felt the show wasn’t really about George being a superhero and all his amazing super powers.
“They are all incidentals really,” he feels. “It’s really about this guy trying to figure out the ways of living in a different world and taking the things people say to him just too literally.”
“I was never really into superheroes as a child,” Ardal revealed. “We weren’t allowed to watch much television in our house so I wasn’t a television or a movie buff nor were we encouraged to read comic books. My mother fed us books but it was mainly proper classic children’s literature like the CS Lewis books. Much later, as a teenager, I saw some of the 1960s Batman series, but wasn’t particularly enthralled by it. My heroes tended to be footballers, the Pope and JFK.”
Ardal grew up in Carrickmacross, Ireland. “I worked in Markeys restaurant when I was about seven,” he revealed in an interview for the Carrickmacross web site.
“On Saturday mornings, Frank Markey, my brother Rory and myself used to extract peas from their pods in the kitchen, tons of them. We got a pound between us and a bottle of red lemonade each. I think this is true although I can’t be sure. Most of my memories usually turn out to be somebody else’s memories.”
Ardal wrote a novel, The Talk of the Town in 1998.
• BBC Online Chat Transcript: 14 June 2002
• BBC Profile of Ardal: www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/profiles/ardal_o_hanlon.shtml
George Sunday/Theroman Season Six
James Dreyfus replaced Ardal O’Hanlon as superhero Thermoman in the BBC1 series My Hero for season six.
Dreyfus, star of BBC1’s Gimme Gimme Gimme and who also starred in Thin Blue Line, is stitched into the role at the start of the sixth season when Thermoman gambles away his old body during a poker game.
Dreyfus signed up after O’Hanlon decided to move on to new projects after five seasons.
In addition to several TV comedy credits, Dreyfus appeared in the West End show The Producers and feature films such as Notting Hill, Fat Slags and Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.
He also voiced Willo the Wisp in the modern version of the animated show (click here for the official web site, www.willothewisp.co.uk). He won a British Comedy Award as Top TV newcomer for his work on Thin Blue Line back in 1996.
• Will O the Wisp Official web site: www.willothewisp.co.uk
• Buy Gimme Gimme Gimme from Amazon.co.uk: Click Here
• Buy The Thin Blue Line from Amazon.co.uk: Click Here
Dawkins is faced with the task of explaining the world to her confused alien husband, with varying degrees of success.
From her Official Bio: Born in 1970 and educated in London, Emily trained at the Webber Douglas Academy, graduating in 1991 as a Carleton Hobbs finalist.
She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1991, and over the next two years played in Romeo & Juliet, Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Julius Caesar, King Baby and A Woman Killed with Kindness. Further seasons with the RSC brought a world tour of Love’s Labours Lost, Twelfth Night and A Christmas Carol, among other theatre work.
In 1995, her first TV job was in Cracker, which led to many roles including parts in Jane Eyre, Casualty, Wycliffe, Grafters, The Glass, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Messiah II, Midsomer Murders and My Hero.
Emily has a charming, bubbly personality, reflected in her vocal style. She’s proficient at Yorkshire and Manchester accents, and has a lovely singing voice – having spent three years in a pop group – a sure sign of a mis-spent youth!
As a youngster Emily was no great fan of superheroes. “I was never into Batman or anything like that,” she once said. “I never wanted to be rescued but instead I wanted to be one of Charlie’s Angels.”
At the age of 17, Emily was lead singer of a rock band called In Spite of All That. “We wrote our own stuff and did gigs all over the place and we actually recorded an album which I’ve never heard,” she says.
“I was in the band for three years including the time I went to drama school. I had to make a decision between acting and singing because the music was getting more serious.
“I chose acting because you can still get parts in EastEnders when you are 90 but you can’t really be in the pop charts!”
Emily is married to art director Adam Astie. They have a three-year-old son and are expecting a baby in November 2003.
Fan Mail can be sent to: c/o PFD, Drury House, 34-43 Russell Street London, WC2B 5HA
The abrasive receptionist at the surgery where Janet works. One of the show’s secret weapons!
Stage credits include Betty, written by Kathy Burke, at the Vaudeville, London in 2002.
Dr Piers Crispin
Astonishingly versatile with credits including My Hero, Mock the Week, TV to Go, Spitting Image, Carrott Confidential, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, You Me & Him, The Punt & Dennis Show and A Word in Your Era.
Hugh can do most accents and has a huge wardrobe of character voices as well as having just the right voice for hard or soft sell. Hugh’s popular radio shows, The Now Show and It’s Been a Bad Week and can be heard on BBC Radio 4.
Hugh was a member of the world-famous Cambridge Footlights in 1983.
“Dr Piers is an self-obsessed, incredibly vain egomaniac with no interest in anything except himself,” said Hugh Dennis of his on screen character. “He’s a brilliant part to play!”
In an interview with Express Newspapers, Piers was described as ‘a soulless and superficial medic motivated entirely by his quest for celebrity to the detriment of his patients’ wellbeing.’
“They say you always play aspects of yourself, but I really hope I’m nothing like him,” Hugh Dennis, the son of the Bishop of Norwich, told the Express before the start of the first season. Piers is inspired more by some of the doctors you see on TV, says Dennis. Unlike his character, Dennis hates the pretension of the celebrity whirlygig. He is perturbed at the prevalence of people like Piers, who use their job as a vehicle for 15 minutes of fame.
“These days there’s no profession where you can’t be a TV star, even if you’re a gardener, doctor or airport baggage handler,” he says. “There’s a whole breed of people desperate to be on TV as the defining structure of their life. Piers represents that and it’s terribly scary.”
Dennis clearly always wanted the fame his succesful career has brought him, though. “I wanted to be a weatherman in the same way as Piers wants to be a doctor – to be on the telly. I always wanted to be eminent. I’ve always been a show-off.”
Plays Thermoman’s cousin, a ‘retired’ superhero, PolarMan, who lost his job because he was corrupt and stole things (when he gets his powers back in one episode he steals the crown jewels).
Lou’s official web site includes diary entries about recording the show, as well as many ‘screen grab’ images from transmitted episodes. Lou Hirsch’s numerous credits on stage, TV and screen include voicing Baby Herman in Who Framed Roger Rabbit , We’ll Meet Again for London Weekend Television, Angels in America at the Royal National Theatre, Superman III and many more. Check out his official web site, which include pics of him and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation). He has a small part in the feature film, Thunderbirds.
Birthday: 15th November
Ella Dawkins, Janet’s Mum
In addition to My Hero, Lil’s numerous film and TV credits include films such as Keep the Aspidistra Flying and Brassed Off, with many TV appearances in shows such as Heartbeat, Absolutely Fabulous and the detective drama Hetty Wainthropp Investigates.
Put-upon Stanley lives in fear of his wife but is not adverse to the occasional rebellion, which has seen him take refuge with Tyler in Season Three’s Putting on the Writs. Stanley has daydreams about killing Ella, and is allergic to cats (My Kingdom for a Cat).
Tim’s many TV credits include Lucky Jim, Mirrorball, Pride and Prejudice, Whoops Apocalypse and several Shakespeare dramas.
He’s also appeared in Casualty, French and Saunders and The Darling Buds of May.
Thermoman’s next door neighbour, who is either mad or really can speak a smattering of schooloboy Martian and is regularly abducted by aliens. In addition to covering his sofa in bacofoil he has a pet scorpion.
Philip’s credits include TV series such as the 1999 version of Treasure Island and appearances in Midsomer Murders, Peak Practice and The Vicar of Dibley.
He’s also been seen in Sharpe, The Bill, Bergerac and Casualty.
• Tres Hanley, who played Carol in Season One, has a clip from the show on her web site
• Pat Kelman, who played the Ultron postman, has his own official web site at: www.patkelman.com
How to Contact the actors
I don’t have contact addresses but correspondence for actors in BBC shows should be sent to:
[Actor Name] [Show Title – in this case, My Hero]
BBC Television Centre
Advice on getting autographs: Many people want to write to actors, often to request autographs or photographs. Here’s some suggestion that might improve your chances of getting a response — but please note, this is not a guarantee of success!
1) Always enclose a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) with any letter, i.e. an envelope with your name and address already written on it. Of course, this is easy if you live in the country to which you are writing — if you are writing from outside the UK in the case of My Hero however, there is a solution. You need to buy an International Reply Coupon from your local post office. These can be exchanged in a UK post office against a stamp covering the postal rate (surface single letter, and now air mail letter) to answer you. This service has been in operation since 1907.
International reply coupons (IRC) follow rules edited by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and may be used almost anywhere in the world.
Make sure the envelope is big enough for a photograph if that’s what you are hoping for. When I edited Doctor Who Magazine — yes, at one time people bizarrely wanted my autograph! — we occasionally got self addressed envelopes the size of postage stamps which were impossible to get anything into (not that I wanted to traumatise anyone with a photo of me, anyway).
Self addressed envelopes save actors and their agents both time and money, which improves the chances of a reply. You might also want to enclose a picture with your letter for signing. This can be risky — after all, your letter may well go missing — but actors are more likely to take you seriously if you do this. Make sure the envelope you send your letter in and the SASE are sturdy enough to ensure the photo is not damaged.
2) Make sure the letter you send is polite, short, and to the point. People often write too much and the actor or agent will discard it. They simply don’t have time to read long letters about a fan’s life story — after all, at its height My Hero got over eight million regular viewers and you can just imagine how many fan letters that generated.
Keep the letter short, say what you want to say and if you’re asking for an autograph or picture say why you want it, along with some short comments about their acting. Mention things about the actors’ most recent work. It lets the actor know you are a real fan and don’t just know him because of My Hero.
3) Be patient. Busy actors are not only performing or preparing for a new show, they also have a home life and this means they don’t have a lot of time to reply to fan letters. Just think how long it takes you to reply to a letter from a distant Aunt or even the bank manager (actually, it’s probably not a good idea to not reply to letters from bank managers). Autograph hunters will tell you that a reply can take as little as one – two weeks and sometimes as much as a year! (If you haven’t had a reply in a year I’d suggest you re-send the letter – perhaps it got lost in the post).
4) If you’re writing to all the cast of the show, use the same letter but just change the names. It’s quicker and can be more effective.
5) Ask for any photo or autograph to be personalised. This will distinguish you from an autograph dealer, which many actors refuse point blank to help. Personalised autographs are much cooler, anyway.