Nimmo Twin tastes solo success

He's the Nimmo Twin living abroad up that London but he definitely hasn't forgotten Norfolk and has been spending Christmas back in his home county. STACIA BRIGGS caught up with Karl Minns.

Exhausted after finishing his fifth stint as programme associate on BBC3's Russell Howard's Good News show, Karl Minns was looking forward to coming home for Christmas.

Karl, whose Normal for Norfolk show with comedy partner Owen Evans was a mainstay of the Norwich Playhouse's festive season for years, moved to London in 2008 to pursue a career in television.

And, as he explains, it's proven to be an inspired decision.

'I miss Normal for Norfolk, but this opportunity that came along for me has been everything that I've been working towards since I started writing comedy,' said Karl, 41.

'I've loved every second of working in television, just as I knew I would. It's stressful, the hours are long and you're under a huge amount of pressure, but I love it.'

Karl has been working with comedian Russell Howard for all five series of the hugely-successful RHGN, has seen his first comedy drama Mouth to Mouth screened and has written for Mock the Week and Chris Addison's Show and Tell amongst other shows.

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'For Russell's show, me and two other writers work about 60 hours a week to produce a half hour show alongside a team of brilliant young researchers who watch hundreds of hours of news channels from all over the world,' he said of the programme, which regularly attracts more than a million viewers and is the number one comedy show on iPlayer.

'Russell looks through what they choose as the funniest and quirkiest stories and clips and then we write as many jokes as we possibly can and then we tell them in front of each other, which is probably the most unpleasant part of the job – you can actually watch your jokes dying a painful death.

'As soon as one show is recorded, we're starting on the next one. It's a lot of pressure, a lot of fun and I do get to be on the telly every so often in a sketch or two — I've dressed as Justin Bieber's headmaster, been a gangster who wanted cheese, a policeman singing Bohemian Rhapsody, a Russian boxing trainer…never a dull day.'

Before working with Russell, Karl wrote for Mock the Week for two and a half years.

'I got used to seeing how stories were manipulated by different news organisations; there'd be one story but five different ways of telling it,' he said.

'Worst of all are the online message boards: they're like the seventh ring of hell. You read what people have to say and within minutes you believe that life isn't worth living - the splenetic fervour with which people vent their bile never fails to amaze me.'

His own six-part series Mouth to Mouth, which followed the fortunes of a fictional girl band called Cat's Eyes, was critically acclaimed and there are plenty of plans in the pipeline, both for writing projects of his own and with other big comedy names (all under wraps, all very exciting) in 2012.

'I'm writing comedy short stories again and really enjoying it just as I did when I wrote a column for the Norwich Evening News,' said Karl.

'There are lots of ideas floating around and it's exciting, if a little nerve-wracking.'

As for the Nimmo Twins, rumours of the duo's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Normal for Norfolk has grown from a show performed in a room above a pub to selling out for weeks on end at the Norwich Playhouse and Karl has promised that he and Owen will be back in the future.

'There isn't a Normal for Norfolk show this year because I finished RHGN at the beginning of December, then have been out to keep an eye on Russell's arena tour and to put on a new Nimmo Twins show means starting to write in August or September and I just didn't have the time,' he explained.

'I do miss performing and making an audience laugh – I did my first stand-up gig in London for nine years recently and I'm planning to do more, even though it's completely terrifying.

'I always dread going on stage. Once I'm there, it's great and I'm in my element, but being in the wings or backstage is like a living death and in 17 or so years, it's not got any better.

'I have written about 15 minutes of a new Nimmo Twins show and we will be back when I have the time and the time is right. I don't want to do a show unless it's as good or better than the best one we've ever done. I'm a bit of a perfectionist.'

In addition to catching up with friends and family in Norfolk, Karl would love to see his beloved Norwich City, having been in London when the team was promoted to the Premier League.

'It's typical that as soon as I move away, Norwich get good,' he said.

'I love catching up with them on TV, but it's not the same as going to a match. Of course now they're in the Premier League, I've got no chance of getting hold of any tickets. And yes, that is a hint.'