Road trip for gripe van man Angelos

Angelos Epithemiou
Angelos Epithemiou
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First tour of duty from a shooting star

WITH his burger van wisdom and mysterious carrier bag Angelos Epithemiou has become a favourite with fans of Shooting Stars.

Shooting stars: Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer

Shooting stars: Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer

But it seems he of the anorak and specs isn’t as excited about going on his first solo tour away from the BBC comedy quiz as you might think.

“No, not really, but I’ve got to do it,” he says ahead of his Sheffield University Octagon show on February 19.

“They’ve made me do it. The bigwigs and the top men, the money men and I suspect the government are involved at some level. I’d rather be at home with me feet up, with a Magnum watching Crimewatch. But I’ll get by, I have to because I’m getting blinking paid for it. So I have to do it, but I don’t have to enjoy it, do I?”

Surely, being on a stage engaging with fans has got be better than standing in a van preparing fast food for revellers, though?

“Well, it’s not as good,” declares Angelos, discovered by Shooting Stars host Bob Mortimer when he presented him with a catering award. “When I was flipping burgers etc when I’d had enough I could just bring the shutter down and I could have a cup of tea and watch New Tricks. For this show I’ve got to do an hour and a half with one toilet break and that is it.”

And maybe grab a burger from someone else’s van outside the venue? It seems not.

“I look at them and think ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’. The state of the industry at the moment is a joke. It’s the quality of the meat...what I used to serve on my van, well, it was s***, but it’s got worse since then.

“I don’t know what you’d call it. I haven’t got a name for it but it looks like it’s from outer space. I wouldn’t touch it. I wouldn’t touch the stuff I served, so I wouldn’t touch no-one elses. Absolute muck.”

Angelos - the creation of Dan Skinner whose CV takes in The Office, My Family, The Armstrong & Miller Show and Coupling – joined Shooting Stars as a panellist and scores man.

Having become a star since you’d have expected him to have swapped his Sainsburys carrier bag for a manbag or at least bought a re-usable from Waitrose.

“I’d rather get a Londis bag. That’s where I get all my stuff really. You can go in there and just before all that food is about to go out of date you can buy all that stuff up for next to nothing.”

So we’re guessing no fancy showbiz suits or limo to the stage door for this man either?

“I’ve got my old fancy top which I bought from Rome, where I get all my clothes and I consider them to be fancy enough, thank you very much. What you see is what you get.

“I’m in someone else’s van, stuck in the back on top of a box. I’ve got quite a few props to bring along. I’ve got a leg, a blow up thing, a Christmas present and rubbish I pick up from the side of the road and bung in the show. It’s as cheap as chips. I watch the pennies.”

So the show is a no-expense spent affair, then. After all, Angelos tends to keep abreast of the economy.

“I like to keep my good eye – because my other eye’s b***ered – on the Dow Jones. But the advice I would give to anyone at this time because of the recession and stuff, is don’t spend any money, ever.

“Apart from on my show that is, because you’ll go away with a smile on your face and you’ll be like ‘I think I can get a job now I’ve seen him do it up there’. I’m an inspiration to a generation.

“But don’t take my word, you should have a word with the Chancellor because he knows what’s going on. Especially up north because it’s hard up here, I know that.

“It’s a bit easier for me, especially when you’re a superstar. The other day someone says to me ‘Angelos, would you please open this supermarket?’ I was, ‘Yes, I will, no problemo’. And then he chucked the keys at me and said ‘Can you open it up at four tomorrow morning and let the bakers in, I’m going on holiday’. I did it, though.”

So what can we expect from his Saturday night in Sheffield? “It’s three jokes, two dances and an impression and that’s dragged out to about an hour and a half. And there’s a quiz. The person that wins gets a tour of the backstage area with me and that is a prize what money cannot buy. Apart from if you pay me and I’ll take you back there.

“Also I do a little thoughts from my head at the end of the show just to try and help you get through life. It’s action packed. You won’t get more than I’m giving you for the money.”

Finally, with Britain boasting one of the highest rates of obesity among women, does he feel any responsibility about serving junk food for years?

“There was this one bird used to come round the burger van and I fancied her so much I used to give her free food. After about two years of that she put on loads of weight and I didn’t fancy her any more. I wasn’t interested. So I feel responsible for her. You can’t have a go at me about any of the others, nothing to do with me.”

Could he not have just asked her out before it got that far or was he a little embarrassed?

“It’s not embarrassing for someone like me,” he says of the ladies generally. “I’d just go up there and go ‘You, me, up the cafe now’. Actually, it doesn’t work much, but I’m after Kate Moss at the moment so they’ve got to be pretty special. I’d just fry her an egg and see how we got on from there. She’d like that.”

Angelos is one of three names bound for the Octagon as part of the Students Union’s Comedy Season.

That includes the Sheffield Student Comedy Festival (Feb 25-27), open to all and bringing together the best in young and student comedy from across the country for a weekend.

Following his own BBC2 comedy series, Stephen K Amos appears on March 5 with The Best Medicine while one-liner king Tim Vine, star of BBC1’s Not Going Out, brings The Joke-amotive show on May 11.