Actor, writer and voice artist Simon Greenall has enjoyed one of the most versatile careers in entertainment over the last three decades. Getting his first taste of national acclaim in 1997 playing the part of the harmless Geordie Michael in Steve Coogan’s sitcom spin-off I’m Alan Partridge, Simon found it incredibly easy to get into the mind of the character. He’d grown up surrounded by working class guys like Michael who lived for a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale on a Friday night with people who they’d grown up with and never really had any aspirations to change this. As a result of this, Michael was very easy for Simon to play as the role never expanded or changed.
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In the two series of I’m Alan Partridge, Michael is placed in jobs which become his whole world. In series one Michael was porter at a roadside hotel where Partridge is permanently living since his fall from television grace, while in series two Michael is the cashier of a twenty four hour petrol station and constantly relishes the power which both jobs offer him. They might seem like basic jobs to common folk but to him, he is the king of his own castle and as any successful comedy writer knows; simple characters are always the best and Michael is the absolute epitome of this.
In 2013 Alan finally had his moment on the big screen in Alpha Papa which reunited the whole cast and took them on location to Norfolk. Filming the final exterior scene on Cromer Pier in the middle of winter was bitterly cold for cast and crew and just one degree above the legal workable conditions. Being on a film set is extremely difficult for an actor as they have no instant response from an audience so it’s impossible to know what’s funny and what’s not. There was tremendous pressure put on both cast and crew for the film to be a success as a result of Partridge’s formidable comedy heritage and without an instant response from an audience, it was a horrible waiting game to see if their hard work had paid off. Alpha Papa was a hit and grossed 9.8 million dollars worldwide making it one of the biggest British movies of 2013.
Beyond Partridge, Simon’s career has taken him to extraordinary places doing unbelievable things and in 2008 he received a phone call inviting him for an audition to voice a talking meerkat for a series of home insurance commercials. The character of Alexander Meerkat from the Compare The Market adverts was originally meant to be a promotional gimmick premiering on New Year’s Day 2009. The immediate public response was incredible and Simon quickly found himself in a studio recording new material for Alexander. Just a year later the advertisers decided to introduce a friend for Alexander to bounce off and thus the character of Sergè was born. The success of these adverts have spawned a whole range of merchandise from key rings to cuddly toys and Simon can’t quite believe the phenomenon that these two meerkats have become though he doesn’t actually benefit from cheap home and car insurance!
Contrastingly, Simon’s versatile voice is known as the brave bear Captain Barnacles in the popular children’s series The Octonauts. The advantage of voicing a character in an animation series is that very few people are aware of the voice behind the character. The only time when people are able to make this link is when Simon purposefully decides to speak as Captain Barnacles which is usually met by surprise and hilarity. Therefore whatever generation you are, it is more than likely that you will have come into contact with the wide-ranging work of Simon Greenall, whether it’s; Partridge in the nineties, Alexander Meerkat in the noughties and beyond or Captain Barnacles for his more up to date fans. It was great to meet and interview Simon Greenall and wish him all the very best for the rest of his career.