Eighties’ funnyman Russ Abbot is back on our screens playing a man who’s reached retirement in BBC1’s new comedy drama, Boomers. But, as Russ reveals, he’s not ready to quit work himself just yet…
Tell us what your new comedy drama, Boomers, is all about?
“It’s about three couples, all old friends, who’ve retired to the same seaside resort of Thurnemouth, Norfolk. There’s a bit of a love/hate relationship between them all in that they feel stuck with each other now – if there’s an event they’ll all get an invite yet no one particularly wants to go! But they are good friends really.”
What’s your character John like?
“John’s a bit of a Jack the Lad, who’s married to Maureen, played by the lovely Stephanie Beacham. John and Maureen are very happy – mainly because he just does as he’s told! John helps look after Maureen’s mother Joan (June Whitfield) to keep the peace. But if there’s a chance to have some fun, John will be the one organising it.”
What’s it been like having former Dynasty star Stephanie as your screen wife?
“She’s a wonderful actress and a very glamorous lady and, of course, I’m rather handsome myself, so I think we suit each other! Maureen’s a very powerful woman, so Stephanie’s perfect for the role. I just tag along and bring the fun out of her.”
Your sketch show, Russ Abbot’s Madhouse, was very popular in the Eighties. Are you looking forward to being back on primetime TV?
“Oh, absolutely! To be honest, I never wanted to leave primetime TV; it’s just that the right kind of show never came along. But when I read the script for Boomers I thought it was great, then I saw the cast, which also includes Alison Steadman, Philip Jackson, Paula Wilcox and James Smith, and I couldn’t wait to get involved.”
Did you enjoy being a popstar back in the day?
“Well, everyone remembers my song Atmosphere, but I was approached to do that – someone basically just told me: ‘We think you can sing this song’. I guess it was commercial and I was ‘hot’ at the time, but I certainly didn’t go looking for a pop career!”
Do you think it’s important for a programme like Boomers to show that people are not ‘past it’ once they reach retirement age?
“Yes, because that’s so true of a lot of older people these days – they’re going on holidays and doing all sorts of active things. I’m 66 now and still enjoy a round of golf and playing the drums. As a jobbing actor, you can retire for a few months then go back to work. But I don’t think I’ll ever retire completely.”
Boomers screens on Fridays at 9pm on BBC1.