Play born from fancy dress party

Looby Loo - No Strings Attached is being performed by New Apollo Theatre Company from April 25-28.
Looby Loo - No Strings Attached is being performed by New Apollo Theatre Company from April 25-28.
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An eventful evening out with his wife lead to Julian Rimmer putting together a unique original play - Looby Loo – No Strings Attached.

It’s based on the Watch With Mother children’s programme in the 1950s, the stars of the show were recognisable everywhere and today are a part of popular culture.

But what exactly would happen if they were still here today, when they were just six years old in the series?

That’s exactly what writer Julian Rimmer thought while at a fancy dress party with his wife, and next week New Apollo is putting on a play about the characters at The Cellars at Eastney and The Florence Arms.

Julian, who has worked with BBC Radio and Radio Free Europe, says: ‘It was a while ago and my wife and I were invited to a fancy dress party and the theme was the ‘50s. Of course we left it too late and all we could get was Looby Loo and Andy Pandy.

‘Everyone went as teddy boys and she drank way too much. I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t with her because I was dressed as Andy Pandy and she was Looby Loo!’

He adds: ‘So there we were with Looby Loo being ill and a very angry looking Andy Pandy in the car.’

But the evening gave Julian an idea what would have happened if the characters had grown up and were now in their 50s.

He says: ‘It’s based on the Velveteen Rabbit books which is about a toy rabbit that is loved so much it becomes real. It’s a wonderful story about how would they exist in today’s world and what sort of work would they do.’

Looby Loo has become bitter about being side lined in favour of modern realistic childrens’ programming and has taken to strong beer. All that keeps her from cracking under the strain of being a TV has-been is the companionship of her old friend Andy Pandy – so they hatch a plan to make a comeback on digital TV.

With Julian’s wife, Lizzie, being good friends with Christopher Marlowe and Colin Luke at New Apollo, they decided to put on the play.

The play will feature Elizabeth Elvin (Lizzie) as Looby Loo, who was recently in Edinburgh and Los Angeles playing Doris Day’s Mother. Andy Pandy will be played by actor Christopher Marlow, while Time Lowe will take the part of Teddy, and Eddie Hill will be a confused Auntie.

New Apollo is even looking at performing the production at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year.

The production will be at The Cellars at Eastney from April 25-26, and The Florence Arms, Southsea from April 27-28.

Tickets cost £12 from The Celllars at Eastney on (023) 9282 6249 or go to thecellars.co.uk.