An Interview with Actor, Writer and Producer, Daniel Taylor

About Daniel Taylor

Daniel Taylor is known for playing Sammy in Blood Brothers (West End and national tour). Read our previously published review of that tour date in Coventry here. Also Mickey in Alan Bleasdale’s production of Down the Dock Road (Royal Court, Liverpool). In Autumn 2016, Taylor toured the UK, US and Canada in the title role of stage production Lennon: Through A Glass Onion.

About The Tommy Cooper Show

Daniel Taylor is currently touring the UK with his own production The Tommy Cooper Show, a three-hander based on the life of the late comedian. Co-written by Taylor himself, along with playwright Ian Carroll, The Tommy Cooper Show takes us on a journey from Cooper’s days in the army right up to the height of his national TV stardom. The Tommy Cooper Show remains a celebration of what made Cooper such a national treasure who brought joy and laughter to the British public. Note: The production has the blessing of Tommy Cooper’s estate and his daughter Vicky. The show returns to Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn on Sat 4 Feb 2017

We held a Q&A session with Daniel Taylor to find out more about The Tommy Cooper Show

Can you give us a brief rundown of the show and what to expect?

It’s first and foremost a celebration of Tommy’s life and the events that led to his television stardom and the people who shaped him. It goes right back to his time in the army, and meeting his wife, Gwen, who he affectionately named ‘Dove’. Gwen is played by the lovely Sharon Byatt (Blood Brothers, My Kingdom, Bread). We also take a look at the relationship Tommy has with his long-suffering manager Miff Ferrie. Tommy really was quite a handful for both of them at times.
We acknowledge the trying times, and the impact Tommy had on those around him, but the show isn’t a negative piece. It’s not what the play is about. It’s about bringing to life an incredibly funny man, as best I can, and celebrating his rise to fame and the people who supported him throughout. Expect lots of Tommy’s trademark tricks gone wrong, and lots of laughs.

The show is produced and co-written by yourself. Why did you decide to put on a show about Tommy Cooper?

At the time I had the idea, I was working with Ian Carroll. I just decided I wanted to do something different. Ian wrote the script, and I developed it from there. There’s just something I find so intriguing about the character of Tommy Cooper. I think I play him with ease – if that doesn’t sound too egotistical. I just feel very comfortable in his skin, we share a sense of humour.

Tommy Cooper was famous for his magic tricks gone wrong, what was it like to play the ‘hapless magician’?

It’s a fascinating part of Tommy’s character, and that’s not how he started out. He was into magic tricks from a young age, his Aunt Lucie gave him his first magic kit at the age of 8. He was a very well respected magician, and a member of the Magic Circle.
There are a few different stories about how he realised he could make people laugh by getting the tricks wrong. The story I like is one from performance in his early days at in the shipyards in Southampton. He was performing the trick of the upturned milk – Instead of remaining magically in the bottle when overturned, the milk split everywhere. Tommy was absolutely mortified, but the audience were in hysterics.
His biggest break of course was in television. Up until then, he faced numerous rejections. He had an extraordinary attitude towards work, and was meticulous in planning every trick, and crucially, planning exactly how to get them wrong to get a reaction from the audience.

Do you have any favourite jokes or routines?

I always get asked this, and once I start I can’t stop. The ‘Glass Bottle, Bottle Glass’ routine is a classic that lots of people will remember. Of course, I love ‘Spoon Jar, Jar Spoon’. I love doing the ‘Hats’ routine – because it’s just chaos. I love the chaos of it!
As for jokes… how about?
I backed a horse at 20:1. It came in at 20 past four.
I went to see the doctor today, I had to – he’s not been well.
I went to see the doctor today and said ‘doctor, I’ve broken my arm in three places’. He said ‘Well stay away from those places.’
Just like that!

You seem to be developing a habit of playing much-loved icons of entertainment, last year playing John himself in Lennon: Through A Glass Onion. What was it like playing such an iconic, but controversial figure?

It means a great deal. It’s a role I love – I’m very grateful to have got the chance to play one of my heroes in a job and a business that I love.
I grew up listening to Lennon’s music. Personally I wouldn’t say he was controversial, at least not intentionally. He was simply honest. He wasn’t necessarily right, of course, but he spoke his mind. Lennon’s opinions are controversial because they didn’t sit well with all people, but he believed in what he was saying and he felt it needed to be said. He tried to use being in the limelight in a positive way, and was probably very naive about how his opinions would be received.

Finally, why should people come to see the show?

Come and have a good laugh with us – it’s a great night out. Tommy’s humour is timeless and suitable for all ages, so bring the kids. It’s also an opportunity to reminisce for all the oldies (like myself!). It’s good light-hearted entertainment for the whole family, and we aim to make you laugh from the beginning to the end.


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