I’d love a Torchwood TV revival says The Full Monty UK tour’s Kai Owen
- Credit: Contributed
Actor Kai Owen talks about returning to the role of Dave in the UK tour of The Full Monty, walking on the dark side for Hollyoaks and whether we’ll ever see the return of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.
I’m meant to be asking Kai about returning to The Full Monty, visiting several theatres across the region between September and next April.
But with Doctor Who back on the telly next month and his old Torchwood lead writer Chris Chibnall in charge I have to ask if we could be seeing him back in the who-verse.
Q: Would you be up for playing Rhys again?
At the drop of the hat... I’m still in touch with Eve (Myles, who played his wife, the kick-ass agent Gwen Cooper) who’s just having a wonderful time at the moment with Keeping Faith, she’s been amazing. I think if there was a gap in the diary and Russell T Davies came calling we all would jump at the chance. It was a wonderful job and I miss it. I’m fortunate I get to do comic-cons and conventions all over the world. Every now and again we all hook up and it’s just like old times. I’m a big fan of Doctor Who and can’t wait to see Jodie Whitaker do her stuff, I think it’s going to be amazing.
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I remember seeing the back of the hoodie (during Whittaker’s reveal), the Doctor walking with their back to the screen and I thought “oh it’s a man” and I thought it was going to be who I didn’t want it to be. I won’t say any names but I thought I was going to go “oh no”. Then when Jodie was introduced I was like ‘YES, absolutely brilliant, cracking stuff’. She’s a great actress and she’s got alongside her a great guy in charge, I love Chris.
He did some big episodes for Rhys and Gwen and Jack and everybody so who knows, he may go “oh let’s just bring them nutters back for an hour”. What is absolutely amazing is the fan base is still there and growing. I’m always overwhelmed by the reaction to Torchwood and it’s something I’ll always be proud of. I loved being part of the Big Finish Productions (audio plays). If it’s not going to be on telly the best place for it to be is with those guys, but it would be nice for Mr T Davies to say “let’s just have just one little outing”.
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Q: You recently played child abuser Pete Buchanan in Hollyoaks, a very different role from Rhys and The Full Monty’s Dave?
I was playing opposite a great cast and it was a powerful storyline. The writing was so good, it was handled really well. I felt very passionate about what I did... it was a real joy to tell the story. We met some victims of abuse before we started filming and we had a lot of support from the NSPCC. I saw the wonderful work they and Childline do. They need so much support and being a father myself of a young lad... it’s the innocence of childhood that’s getting robbed and I hope to do more for the NSPCC in the future,
Q: You’re back playing Dave in the UK tour of The Full Monty; is taking on lighter roles like that a kind of detox from playing roles like Pete?
Maybe subconsciously. I’d never ever played anything like that before... it’s a great challenge... I’ve always played the loveable, normal sort of bloke really. In Torchwood I was quite jolly, quite nice, extremely identifiable with, he was the heart of the show. Rhys was extremely close to me as a person. Pete couldn’t be further away from me thankfully... when an opportunity to do something like Dave and have a proper laugh it’s quite nice. He’s Gaz’s best mate, the factories have all closed down, he’s skint and let himself go a bit so he’s struggling with a few body issues and his mojo has gone.
Q: Did you have to put weight on for the role?
I’m a big lad anyway but he’s got to be a bit more out of shape than I usually keep myself. I like to run a lot, I’ve just done the London Marathon... (but) any excuse really for a few extra curries, a few extra kebabs and pizzas; it’s not too bad is it? It won’t be a great deal, I’ll put a stone on, maybe lose another. I stopped training about two months before (the tour) to stick some weight back on and then as soon as the run comes to an end I’ll start stripping it off, I quite look forward to that (laughs).
Q: What’s it like rehearsing / performing the finale for the first time?
It’s more nerve-racking in rehearsals... you feel more exposed. It’s done very sensitively, with the director, the choreographer and the six lads doing it, none of the rest of the cast are allowed in. When you’re on stage you’re nervous because you’re thinking about the dance the first time, “I’ve got to get this... oh God, here we go, I’m taking my thong off I’m taking my thong off” and then you’re going to turn round and chuck it... It’s quite, I won’t say liberating but the reaction we get every night, I’ve never had a buzz like it... that brilliant Tom Jones track comes on (hums You Can Leave Your Hat On) and the audience go completely crazy because they’ve come with us on an amazing journey and they’re willing us to do it. It get’s a bit rowdy as the week goes on, let’s just say that. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Q: Why see the show?
This country is going through a bit of a dark period and the news can be bad, can be sad. The Full Monty proves even in the toughest times, humour, goodwill and positivity can shine through and with a bit of community, a bit of heart and a bit of passion spirits can be lifted. You’ll get pure escapism that everybody needs. It’s a beautiful story, the most successful British comedy film and the best climax you’ll ever see.
• See The Full Monty at Cambridge Arts Theatre, September 17–22; Norwich Theatre Royal, November 26-December 1; and Southend’s Cliffs Theatre, April 1–6.