Walliams’ bestselling children’s book Mr Stink comes to the screen this Christmas Eve as a charming and heartwarming telemovie with a talented cast headed by Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville.
Looking markedly different to his Downton character Lord Grantham, Bonneville plays the title character, a tramp with a good heart, a secret past, a loyal dog named Duchess and a rather noxious personal odour. When a lonely young girl invites him to spend Christmas at the family home, it promises to change everything forever.
Bonneville spoke with Guy Davis about portraying the smelly Mr Stink. You must have a great deal of confidence as an actor, Hugh, to take on a character called Mr Stink. It wasn’t a hard sell, persuading me to do it, because I’d read the script and David’s book almost simultaneously and I was just captivated by the story. I’ve been a big fan of David for some time. Mr Stink is really a very simple and beautiful Christmas fable. So tell us the story of Mr Stink. Our heroine Chloe is an outsider. Her mother is an aspiring politician who is also a huge snob. Her father is adorable but out of work and hasn’t admitted that to his wife. And her sister is this perfect princess. So Chloe is a bit of an outcast and rather lonely.
She comes across this tramp and the two of them are cut from the same cloth – he too is neglected and jeered at. They have this kinship, so she invites him to stay in the shed at the bottom of the garden over Christmas. They form a very
Hugh Bonneville and Nell Tiger Free are an
unlikely pair in touching friendship and this act of compassion on Chloe’s part changes both their lives. What do you hope viewers take away? I would hope that it’s a reminder there are people out there less fortunate than ourselves. And a small act of kindness can go a long way. Given you usually appear well- dressed onscreen, was playing this character a big change? I have to say, having a shower every night was quite spectacular with the amount of grunge that came off. The make- up process was interesting, what with them putting all manner of things in the beard.
Although normally when I do a project, at lunchtime I have to put on bibs and dressing gowns to protect the costumes. Here they were positively throwing food at me!
Mr Stink, ABC1, Tuesday, 6pm