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Sid Kipper

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I understand that the circumstances of your birth were rather unusual. Can you elaborate?

Oh, I've never had no problem elaborating, so I can do that any time I like. And it weren't the birth that was unusual but the contraception. But you already know that, or you wouldn't have asked the next question.

It must have been a shock for you to discover that Henry wasn't your 'real' father? Did this trauma prompt you to go solo?

Well, now, you seem to know more than I do, but appearances can be defective. No-one know for sure who my father is, although mother ought to have an idea but she's not saying. She reckon what you don't know can't hurt you, although I didn't know that bloke who mugged me in North Walsham, and that certainly smarted.

As for why I went solo it was due to father retiring - well, we retired him - and then he died. So that put paid to any come backs. Since then I've done 16 years, 7 albums, 4 books, 2 radio series and 8 stage shows, so I don't really see why people keep going on about him.

You were lucky enough to be born into a musical family. Have the walnut shells always been a traditional instrument in Trunch?

Musical? You don't seem to know much about folk singing. Folk singing is about words, not music. The music is just there to help the medicine go down, which is a bit peculiar when you think about it, because medicine was always made to taste horrid so you'd know it was doing you good.

As for walnut shells, they're nothing to do with music either. They're to do with rhythm, and you wouldn't ask a drummer about music, would you? Well, you wouldn't if you wanted a sensible answer. In the past they were played all over Norfolk. They even got mentioned in the Domesday Book. Not favourably I'll admit, but mentioned nonetheless. And neverthemore, neither.

How did you first get into show business?

Well, it was the saddlefront pigs. We used to show them at local shows. We stopped ages ago though, after uncle George was awarded Biggest Pig At The Show in Knapton. We thought we should sign off at the top, due to the alternative being to sign off at the bottom, and then you wouldn't want to use the pencil again, would you?

What do you say to people who suggest that St. Just-near-Trunch isn't a real place?

I suggest they sign off at the bottom.

Prewd and Prejudice was co-written with Chris Sugden. How does your collaboration work exactly?

I've never noticed it working exactly. It more sort of works roughly. Basically I tell him what to write, and he writes what he wants. That way you get the best of both words. Of course Cod Pieces, which is more short stories and that, has some things exactly as they were before he got his hands on them, but Crab Wars he did most of, except the St. Just bits. Man of Convictions, which is my uncle George's autobiography, was writ by my uncle George, so neither of us done that, although we did ed it.

A while back you had a part in the TV production of David Copperfield. How was that experience?

Well, being a star, and having my own caravan, and my own make-up woman and all that - well, that come pretty natural. Having to play a rough fisherman took a bit of acting. I'm self-taught as an actor which weren't easy, due to me not knowing nothing about what I was teaching myself.

Have you had a chance to watch Stephen Fry's Kingdom? If so, have you been concerned about the atrocious Norfolk accents?

I knew Mr Fry was posh, but I didn't know he had a kingdom! Still, when you've eaten Mrs Dace's rock cakes nothing comes as much of a surprise. I tell you what I did see, though - I saw that Larkrise, due to me thinking it was a nature programme. Now that had lovely Norfolk accents, the only backdraw being it was supposed to have happened in Oxfordshire. I bet those Oxfordshire people were pretty fed up about that.

Obviously you're a multi-talented megastar embracing: singing, playing, story-telling, writing, joke-cracking and acting. Which of these do you consider your 'piece de resistance'?

Actually I don't play hard to get on any of them things. But you do have to watch out for getting type-casted. You know how it is: you do something once, and people think that's all you can do. I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked to accidentally trip, flail about, and rip Molly Mornay's blouse off again.

Norfolk has obviously been behind most of what you do. How would you define its influence?

Not all of Norfolk hasn't been behind it. A lot of Norfolk has been in front, trying to stop me. They reckon we ought to be telling the rest of the world how up to the minute and progressive we are, instead of going on about the past. But if we didn't have the past, what would hold the present up? They never think about that. Stick to the Norfolk motto, I say, and Do Different.

I understand that you and Keith Skipper are planning a new extravaganza in the autumn about Norfolk heroes?

Not this autumn - next autumn. 2009. You have to plan ahead in this business. What happened was we both got fed up with people mistaking us for each other, even though it's obvious he's the bald one, so we thought we'd give people the chance to see us together. It was either that or a civil partnership, but he's already happily married, and I'm happily unmarried, so we thought Cromer pier was the better option. He knows about Norfolk heroes, and I'm condescended from a lot of them, so that's what we're doing.

Are you planning to retire any time soon? Maybe take advantage of house prices at Happisburgh?

I think I owe it to my public to keep on writing and performing as long as they pay me. And my privates, come to that, what with gropies and so on. As for Happisburgh, well, if I retired it'd be to spend more time at home, not go somewhere foreign.

What do you think they'll write on your gravestone?

Well, it won't bother me much, 'cause I'll be in no position to read it, will I? But I'd settle for the Kipper family motto - 'Two-face and Gutless'.

For more of Sid's shenanigans visit his website. Or to book Sid, ring his agent Elaine Cooper on 01377 217080.




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