Interview: Terry Alderton

Footballer turned comedian Terry Alderton is heading back to Norfolk. SIMON PARKIN reports how he got started in comedy at Potters and why he thinks playing Norwich is like warming up an old Aga.

He might struggle with his mobile phone signal when he's in the county but comedian Terry Alderton is still passionate about Norfolk.

Not only do his parents live in the county but this is also where his comedy career began, back in the late 1980s.

'I love Norfolk. We used to have holidays up there when I was a child, at Hunstanton and on the Norfolk Broads, and my parents always said they would move up to Norfolk when they retired, which they did,' said Terry, who as a former Southend goalkeeper famously comes from Essex.

'I'm always wishing I could get up there more — it is so quiet and relaxed.

'But Norfolk is also where I did my first ever summer season. I performed at Potter's Leisure Resort at Hopton. It was great fun and I've been back several times since to do a couple of gigs.'

Terry will, in fact, be back again as he performs another date at the Playhouse on April 8, a venue he has become a regular at and where his brand of madcap and darkly surreal observational comedy always goes down well.

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'The show is basically me a longer version of doing what I do in a comedy club,' he said. 'Of course I have some bits of material but how I get between them varies from show to show.

'But there is no real theme to it. I have done that in the past, and it is something I enjoy, but this time I just decided to let go a bit more, to be a bit freer.'

The show sees him bring them to life on stage some of the characters he has had running through his imagination for years. The result is a mixture of stand-up, uninhibited digressions, caricatures, impressions and sound effects.

As a youngster, Terry was football obsessed. He played for Southend as a youth player and turned down offers from Queens Park Rangers to join them as a professional player.

But after playing in a friendly match in which he made a great save, only to concede a freekick because he was doing a Michael Jackson moonwalk while still holding on to the ball, he decided to leave.

Since then his relationship with football has continued. He appeared on the Celebrities team on Sky1's The Match and has guested on and presented various sports television programmes.

'I try to steer clear of football these days though,' he admitted. 'I still enjoy the game and love going to watch it but I don't really want to be talking about it on television all the time.

'I always feel like I'm blagging it — I don't know as much about it as the people who are watching. I would rather be a punter now I think, and just tell jokes.'

After leaving the football club and taking an open mic slot at his local comedy club, his new career on stage was born.

He back to do gigs and enter competitions, going on to reach the semi-finals in Sky's Star Search, presented by Keith Chegwin, beating singer Chesney Hawkes in the process.

'It was then that I went off to work as a holiday camp entertainer at Potter's,' he said.

After his stint at the Hopton holiday park, Terry decided to hit the London comedy scene and it was then that he really began to make a name for himself.

His many TV appearances since those days have included two series of Five's The Comedy Store, Jack Dee's Sunday Service and the Jonathan Ross Show. He has also hosted the National Lottery.

He has also carved out an side career as an actor, starring as a firefighter in ITV1's London Burning, a yardie gangster in Guy Ritche's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and taking parts in shows Holby City and Waking the Dead.

Once the tour is over, Terry is hoping to find more film work. He would like to be seen as a modern day Peter Sellers, a comedian who can also take on and develop characters.

He has recently teamed up with Brassneck TV to produce a pilot for Being Terry Alderton, a new sketch show that explores the many voices inside the comedian's head.

'In the meantime, I'm really enjoying the tour,' he said. 'How the show goes down does depend as much on the venue as on the audience, and I'm looking forward to playing Norwich because it's a great place.

'Playing in Norfolk is always fun. You are like an old Aga up there. You may take a while to warm up but once you really get going, you really get into it.'

t Terry Alderton will be at Norwich Playhouse on April 8, �12 (�10 cons), 01603 598598,