Luke McGibney: boyhood in Ireland, and now Basil-hood (again)

Celebrating April’s Ireland tour at the Civic Theatre – our 10th anniversary!

Due to insatiable demand, Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is returning to Ireland for the second time this year! Almost all dates sold out when we popped over the Irish Sea in April, and nearly half have already sold out for the upcoming tour…

This should come as no surprise – the show has been selling out ever since our debut tour of The Emerald Isle in 2009. Subsequent tours have been reviewed as ‘absolutely spot-on’ (Irish Times, 2010), and ‘the wackiest and happiest experience you’ll ever have’ (Cork Evening Echo, 2011) – and we just cannot get enough.

Our very own Basil of Irish heritage, Luke McGibney, will be spearheading the upcoming Ireland tour, his fourth. Luke is a stalwart among our ranks of Basils – his appearances on tour earlier in the year to Australia won 5-star reviews like this one: ‘such a perfect portrayal of the character’ (BroadwayBaby).

We sat down with Luke for a chat about Irish ties, Irish theatre and much more…

ITI: Hi Luke – many thanks for joining us. Can you give us a little background on your theatrical career, how you started and some personal highlights?

LM: I trained at the Oxford School of Drama, but was a late starter. Prior to this I was a Marketing Director for EMAP, a large media company. My stage debut was at The Royal Court Theatre in The Barred, a prison play about the issues of reform.

Personal highlights have been my nomination by The Royal Television Society for best actor in Remora’s film, Creative England.

ITI: Fantastic! And how long have you been with ITI now? Your Basil is an absolute classic and you’ve certainly toured the hemispheres! Give us a quick summary of your favourite moments on the FT rollercoaster…

LM: I have been a Basil for four years, and career highlights have been touring Ireland three times and Australia twice. As I was brought up in Ireland, this was a real privilege. One of my most memorable moments was a simple thanks from a member of the audience – the man and his family had not laughed for some time since he’d lost his mother. Fawlty Towers was his late mother’s favourite TV show and so they came to our show in honour of her. It took me back as to how a performance, and our show, can have such an impact.

ITI: What draws you to the character of Basil Faulty? How to do you keep things fresh on long tours?

LM: Basil is very complicated. He is fundamentally very insecure and vulnerable, hence his actions are quite the opposite to cover this all up. The challenge to make sure Basil is not one-track-minded ‘angry’. Every night I try and find something new to work on or perfect – plus I’m lucky that my fellow actors love to shake things up. They’re a talented bunch!

ITI: You were brought up as a child in Ballinteer, Co. Dublin. Tell us a bit about that, and how you are feeling about performing in Ireland on the upcoming Faulty tour.

LM: It is always a pleasure and a privilege and this time around is especially so as my family are all coming along! I think Irish crowds are the best in the world – they really get involved and keep you on your toes. As a child, going to Bray or Greystones swimming was fun. Dublin Zoo was amazing (and still is) – back then you could feed so many of the animals. It was gas!

ITI: Whilst you’ve been island hopping and touring, members of your family who are based in Ireland have done some pretty cool things! Your grandad was a great rugby player, I understand. Can you tell us a bit more?

LM: He played school-boy Rugby for Ireland and then played for Wanderers cricket and rugby semi-professionally. My mother was a competitive jumper for a number of years. In our family sport has always been a big thing.

ITI: You still often travel between Leixlip and your Nottingham home. Are there any notable differences between the two countries in which you are based? And what are your experiences of Irish theatre?

LM: In regards to theatre, Irish is raw – they naturally have no fear hence why there are so many great Irish actors. They also can be a lot more grounded (sorry England). My last Irish play Body and Blood was an example of that down-to-earth concept, and just cracking on with the work.

ITI: Many thanks for your time Luke, enjoy your Irish return!

LM: Thanks a million for your time guys!

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience tours Ireland from 23 Nov-15 Dec 2019, with 19 dates on the road. Click here for where we’re appearing.

If you would like to read more about our Ireland tours over the years, read this from our Ireland promoter, David Teevan of ten42.

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