From Soap Stardom To Theatre Stage – Jasmyn Banks Interview

The National Theatre’s award-winning comedy One Man, Two Guvnors comes to the New Theatre, Cardiff from February 10-14. Now seen by over one million people worldwide, this internationally-acclaimed smash-hit is on its longest ever UK & Ireland Tour.

Nicholas Hytner’s five star production tells the hilarious story of Francis Henshall who, fired from his skiffle band, becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe. But Roscoe is really Rachel, posing as her own dead brother – who’s been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers. Francis spots the chance of an extra meal ticket and takes a job with one Stanley Stubbers – but to prevent discovery, he must keep his two guvnors apart. Simple.

Gavin Spokes takes the central role of loveable chancer, Francis Henshall. Shaun Williamson plays Charlie Clench, Emma Barton plays Dolly, Jasmyn Banks is Pauline Clench, Alicia Davies is Rachel Crabbe, Michael Dylan is Alfie, Derek Elroy plays Lloyd Boateng, Edward Hancock is Alan Dangle and Patrick Warner plays Stanley Stubbers.

Earlier this week, Andy Howells spoke to Jasmyn Banks who is best known for her role of Alice Branning in EastEnders.  Jasmyn’s other TV credits include: Little Crackers, Sadie Jones and Life of Riley while her stage work includes Hecuba for Lazarus Theatre Company and Wind in the Willows for the RSC.

Can you tell us about the role you play in One Man, Two Guvnors?

I play Pauline Clench, she’s your typical dumb blond, very confused and doesn’t have a clue what’s going on.  She’s engaged to be married and then another character comes in that she has previous arrangement with within an arranged marriage and she’s devastated and that’s how the play starts for her.

How did you get into the acting process originally?

It’s something that I wanted to do since I was about 7; I wanted to be an actress. I did whatever I could. I did acting classes got an agent and started auditioning, so far so good, I’ve been very lucky. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my moments when I’ve been out of work  but that’s how it goes for any actor.

How do you compare working on television to working in the theatre?

It’s a totally different job; working on EastEnders we were making four episodes a week, so it would sometimes be a 12 hour day, 6 days a week. Fifty actors can’t keep the main story line and I’d have times when I’d have two weeks off, someone else was in the spotlight.  Then my characters story line would get big and I’d be very busy so it was very hard work but I can’t tell you how much fun I had, I learned so much.

This job (One Man, Two Guvnors) is totally different; it’s doing the same script every night and finding new things with it. That’s a challenge in itself as is having a live audience (which is) a totally different experience to camera. With this show I’ve found many different ways to play the same person and many different ways to play a line. It’s been so much fun.

Was there any truth in the tabloid stories saying you were planning to go to Hollywood after leaving EastEnders?

I think its one of the many things people make up when you leave soaps. I did want to go out to LA and still have hopes to go out there and work, that was a very funny story that came out, and I’m not sure what it was all about, I found it very amusing but it would be fabulous.

How long will you carry on with One Man, Two Guvnors?

We carry on touring until the end of March and then hopefully I’ll start auditioning again soon.

How have you found doing comedy as opposed to serious drama?

It was actually really daunting seeing myself as a comedy actress, as slapstick comedy requires you to be completely free and really big and bold. I was really terrified of going into it, but I’ve learned so much about it, the bigger and sillier I behave the funnier I still find it.

Who makes you laugh?

That’s a really good question! Ricky Gervais – he’s really clever and funny.

Would you like to do more comedy in the future, perhaps a sitcom?

I would never say no to that, I think there’s a lot of fun to be had in comedy, I definitely would leave that door open.

You’re working with two other former EastEnders actors in One Man, Two Guvnors (Shaun Williamson and Emma Barton). Has there been an opportunity for you to exchange stories about your experiences on the show?

Yes I suppose so, we’ve worked with similar people but we were there at totally different times, but it’s nice to be able to reminisce about things that happened on set.

Finally, are you looking forward to visiting Wales?

I’ve never been to Wales and I cannot wait, I keep hearing wonderful things about Wales and how beautiful it is, I’m very excited!

  • A shortened version of this interview appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on February 6, 2015.
  • Archived: March 12, 2023.

Leave a Reply