He shot to fame more than 30 years ago as the stand-up comedian with the squeaky voice, but since then, Kent comedian Joe Pasquale, has established a diverse career on stage and screen. His latest role is as Sherlock Holmes, but with a twist, as he told Kathryn Tye.
Fictional detective Sherlock Holmes may have been created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle back in 1887, but he is more popular than ever.
In recent years he has been portrayed in an acclaimed BBC TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, in two Hollywood films starring Robert Downey Jr. and in US crime drama Elementary starring Jonny Lee Miller.
And now he is the subject of a new comedy stage show, Ha Ha Holmes! and the Hound of the Baskervilles, starring Joe Pasquale as the super sleuth.
Joe, 52, said: “After the recent resurgence of films and TV series, which introduced a new generation to Sherlock Holmes, I think that the time is right for a send-up. The last time a comedy version was done was back in the 1970s by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in the spoof Hound of the Baskervilles. I don’t think anyone has touched it as a comedy since then.”
The stage show follows the plot of Conan Doyle’s classic story The Hound of the Baskervilles, which sees the detective investigate claims of a giant beast terrorising a community, but with a lot of comedic additions and even some songs.
The father-of-five, who lives in Higham near Rochester, said: “It is a musical as well. I do a duet with the beast singing Lionel Richie’s Hello at one point. It is not to be taken seriously at all.”
It is not Joe’s first foray into musical theatre, as he just finished a stint as King Arthur in Monty Python musical Spamalot in London’s West End, and has appeared in other shows during the past few years including The Producers.
He said: “I can sing. I don’t sound like Michael Ball but I can hold a tune.
“But I’m not afraid to try anything. I don’t think you can in this business. If you start knocking stuff back, people might not ask you next time. I say yes to everything and if I can’t do it, I learn how to do it.
“One moment I’m doing voiceovers for a cartoon, the next I’m doing a play or musical, then stand-up, then panto. The diversity is what keeps me going.”
Joe’s willingness to try new things was demonstrated at the start of this year, when he signed up to take part in ITV’s Dancing on Ice, coming sixth with professional partner Vicky Ogden.
He said: “I had never done ice skating before, and I fell on my behind 30 times in the first half hour, but each day you get a little bit better.
“I took it seriously to a point, as I didn’t want to injure myself, but when you are up against people half your age you know you aren’t going to win. What you want to do is enjoy yourself. I still go down to skate at Gillingham’s ice rink every week, though I don’t wear the lycra outfits!”
Joe admits that turning 50 was a big factor in encouraging him to embrace new things in his career and personal life. “I didn’t think I would get that far, so I thought I had better start doing something. I was afraid of flying so I learnt to fly and got my pilots licence. I had never been in a fight so I took up boxing, and I did the London Marathon two years ago as I had never done any running before.”
He is also currently studying for a degree in geology with the Open University, doing his homework while on the road with the Ha Ha Holmes! tour.
He said: “Over the past 30 years in this business I have found myself wasting a lot of time, and I thought I am going to use it constructively now.
“Most of this job is spent in the car and in Travelodges, as you are on the road for around 40,000 miles a year. I keep sane on the road now doing my homework.”
He added: “I was lucky that I didn’t start in the industry until I was in my early 20s, so it gives you a bit of grounding on what is real and what’s not real. I just enjoy what I do and don’t take it that seriously. There are a lot more things that are important in the world than running about dressed as King Arthur with someone behind you banging coconuts together.”
Ha Ha Holmes! and the Hound of the Baskervilles will be at the Theatre Royal, Margate, on Wednesday, October 9. It starts at 7.30pm. Tickets £20. Call 01843 292795. The show will also be at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley on Sunday, November 3, Tunbridge Wells’ Assembly Hall Theatre on Tuesday, November 5 and Dartford’s Orchard Theatre on Friday, November 15.