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Mathew Horne

April 2013

WHEN the lead actress pulled out with just four days to go until filming was due to start, Mathew Horne suggested the director should call an old friend of his.
But this wasn’t just anyone.
“I said to him ‘why don’t you ask Kylie?’ and he laughed and said ‘as if!” recalls Horne.
“So I just rang her up and said ‘look, I’m doing this film and there’s a part for you in it. I know you’re busy...’
“She’s often quite busy,” he adds with a laugh.
The international pop star, who Horne has worked with half-a-dozen times in the past, was in Berlin at the time and scheduled to fly home to perform at Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
“It was in the hands of fate really because she had just three days free and they happened to be when we were filming. It worked out perfectly. And I can’t imagine anyone else doing that part now.”
It was for Hey Diddly Dee, a one-hour drama for Sky Arts as part a new season of Playhouse Presents.
The likes of Anna Friel, Matt Smith, Idris Elba, Johnny Vegas, Kathy Burke, Suranne Jones, and Vanessa Redgrave are appearing throughout the ten-week run, which begins on Thursday with Hey Diddly Dee.
Joining Horne and Minogue are Peter Serafinowicz, David Harewood, Lee Boardman and Trent Poly alumni Paul Kaye.
“It’s about an amateur theatre group who are putting on a really bad show about Andy Warhol, played by Peter Serafinowicz,” says Horne.
“He’s like a grand dame who has fallen from grace so he’s quite bitter and aggressive. He’s having an on-off relationship with Kylie’s character. And I play his understudy who ends up usurping him, although Kylie’s character tries to scupper me.
“It’s a strange, irreverent, retro piece.”
Horne, who first got into acting while at the Minster School in Southwell, worked with the writer and director Marc Warren on the Boy George drama, Worried About The Boy, playing Culture Club drummer Jon Moss, so he knew a lot of the crew but it was his first meeting with Kaye and Serafinowicz.
Kylie he’s known for years, since he and Gavin & Stacey co-star James Corden presented the Brit Awards with her in 2009. The same year she appeared in their BBC3 sketch show Horne & Corden.
The boy from Burton Joyce now classes the pop icon as a friend.
“It’s kind of a strange old friendship that I don’t like to think about too much, because it’s too weird,” he laughs.
The pair do socialise when time allows it and he will go and see her in concert, even though he’s more a fan of indie guitar bands.
“She gets me over to Paris and places to see her shows.
“And because we’ve worked together quite a bit, she trusts my judgment. She listens to me, which is great,” he laughs. “I think something like this is good for her because she can spend a few days not being Kylie. She’s part of a team of people making something together, mucking in and getting on with it.
“I think she quite likes that. And it takes the pressure off for a few days. When I’m watching her on set, she’s very low key, she’s no bother, she’ll get involved, she’s mucking in... and I think she likes it not being all about Kylie Minogue.”
This week he’s been filming a second series of BBC3 comedy Bad Education, with star and co-writer Jack Whitehall.
“The kids are keeping the energy up but they do make me feel like an old man,” says Horne, who plays headmaster Fraser.
Filming is in a studio in Wimbledon, in contrast to the first series.
“We were under the Heathrow flightpath for that, which caused us a few problems. We had about 13 seconds of silence before another plane came over.”
Working with Whitehall, an arena status comedian, hasn’t re-ignited Horne’s passion for stand-up comedy, which he started doing after leaving Manchester University, from where he graduated with a drama degree.
“I don’t have any desire to be a stand-up any more,” he insists.
Horne and fellow graduate Bruce McKinnon toured as a double act for three years and played Nottingham’s Just The Tonic when it was based at the Old Vic in Fletcher Gate.
When Catherine Tate saw the act at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2001, it kickstarted Horne’s acting career.
He joined the cast of her sketch show as (“Am I bovvered?”) Lauren’s boyfriend and the grandson of Tate’s foul-mouthed pensioner. Fans of the show included Liam Gallagher, Richard E. Grant and Robbie Williams, who once shouted “Am I bovvered?” at him from his car in a London street.
After appearing in Teachers, Horne became a household name with the BAFTA-winning Gavin & Stacey.
“However ubiquitous Gavin & Stacey is, it’s been four years since we did it,” he says of his biggest role.
“I don’t think people will ever stop asking if we are going to do more until we do some more. Then they’ll go ‘oh I wish you hadn’t done that, you ruined it’,” he laughs.
But he then adds: “We may well do it and I’d love to but it’s got to be right.”
After the sketch show, Horne & Corden, and his and Corden’s film debut Lesbian Vampire Killers (he’s since returned to the big screen in Horrid Henry: The Movie), Horne has been working a lot in theatre, appearing in Entertaining Mr Sloane and Charley’s Aunt.
“I’m weighing up a few more options because I really want to get back into the theatre,” he says.
Horne still lives in London but there is no girlfriend. Not even a cat.
“I’m not allowed pets and I shouldn’t be allowed girlfriends,” he laughs.
He returns to Nottingham to see his parents, a retired lace factory boss and a nursery nurse, for family birthdays and for gigs at Rock City.
“I haven’t been back since Christmas,” he admits, although he plans to visit for the Dot to Dot festival in May.
Horne is a big music fan and runs a club night in Shoreditch.
“I packed in the DJing because I got fed up with the late nights. I am 34 now, Simon. But I still love music. I’m loving the new Suede album. I saw them at the Barfly recently and they were just brilliant. And the Foals album is great. There’s so much good stuff around at the moment.”
He meets up with fellow Nottingham actor Vicky McClure, currently appearing in ITV drama Broadchurch, when he’s home.
“Our paths do cross quite a bit in London but because Vicky’s moved back to Nottingham now, I tend to hook up with her for a drink when I go back. We go down the Social (now The Bodega) and have a drink. It’s quite funny because people say ‘what are you two doing hanging out together?’”
He adds: “I like catching up with her, she’s great.”
This year he’s appeared in Miss Marple and Death In Paradise, which was filmed on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe (“It was like one day on set and three days off, on the beach, for two weeks – I got a bit of stick for that”). Now he wants to concentrate on theatre and working with his own production company.
“I want to get into writing some stuff myself. And there are a few projects I’m developing as producer.”
He adds: “It’s all good. I’m getting older... and less wise.”
Playhouse Presents Hey Diddly Dee is on Sky Arts 1 on Thursday at 9pm.


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