Former Young One enters the world of Wodehouse


Christopher Ryan suspects he is going to be very much at home in the world of P G Wodehouse which he inhabits on tour in Jeeves & Wooster in In Perfect Nonsense (Chichester Festival Theatre, March 2-7).

“I got rid of my TV about 13 or 14 years ago when all the reality things started,” says former Young One Christopher. “I was dealing with other personal things in my life at the time, and I thought ‘I don’t need a TV.’ I didn’t have the time.

“I suppose it means I miss so many things. People tell me there are wonderful things on television, like this wonderful new British Sherlock Holmes, but I have got a digital radio and so I can enjoy things like Round the Horne and Paul Temple.

“I don’t have a computer either. I don’t have email. I have got an old mobile phone that I had to have in 2005. Apparently it has got a camera on it, but I haven’t used it. I suppose I am just right for the world of Wodehouse... probably Dickens even!

“But I can only deal with so much. I don’t like pressure and certainly not unnecessary pressure. Obviously a certain amount of stress is part of life, but I don’t go looking for it.”

And people respect that: “I think I am accepted as I am. Maybe if I am feeling more settled, I will get myself a laptop, but I will be doing this show until June, eight shows a week, so I will be pretty busy!”

It does mean he hasn’t seen The Young Ones (1982 to 1984 in two six-part series) since he appeared in it. Christopher featured alongside Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer and Alexei Sayle in the cult series.

“But it’s all a very long time ago now. 32 years. I saw them when they were first shown, but I haven’t seen them since.”

But from memory, he suspects – even though on the surface Wodehouse and The Young Ones are very different things – there is a degree of cross-over.

“I suppose it is that British sense of fun, that British sense of the ridiculous, that idea of taking things to the extreme.”

And he will certainly be doing that in Jeeves & Wooster in which he will play the butler Seppings, a chap required to take on a multitude of characters on stage as Wooster decides to re-enact one of his bonkers adventures.

When a country house weekend takes a turn for the worse, Bertie Wooster is unwittingly called on to play matchmaker, but also to steal a silver cow creamer from Totleigh Towers. Naturally, the ever-dependable Jeeves is there to prevent Bertie from making a fool of himself in front of a cast of Wodehouse’s finest characters.

Enjoy an evening of raucous comedy in the company of Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, Sir Watkin Bassett, Dahlia Travers, Roderick Spode and Constable Oates – many of them played by Christopher.

“I saw the show in June when I was asked to come along to read for a part. There is a lot to it! But what was appealing was the part, the fact it is a challenge and the fantastic writing of P G Wodehouse.

“It’s a very English world he has created, like Sherlock Holmes or like Dickens. These characters in Wodehouse are not quite real. They are heightened in a way so that they have their own realities and their own truths – and their own great humour!”