Ralf is appearing in Richard Bean’s play The Nap, which is premiering in the home of the world snooker championships.
Ralf said: “It’s about a young talented snooker player coming through the ranks. He is played by (Skins star) Jack O’Connell and I play his agent. I think my character is alright but a bit of an idiot.
“If he wasn’t from Manchester he’d be an Essex wide boy. He is the sort of agent who has snooker players and stand-up comedians as clients, one of those guys.
“It’s a lot of fun, a joyful thing. Richard Bean’s writing is so extraordinarily and relentlessly funny. The biggest challenge I’m having in rehearsals is to not have too much fun with it!
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“It’s funny but a play with a story that we need to tell.”
Jack’s character Dylan is a young up-and-coming snooker star making a name for himself at the World Championships. Ralf said he has had a difficult background and there are lots of people trying to get their claws into him.
“He has to navigate that as best as possible but luckily in a very funny way. If Jimmy McGovern had written the play, it would have been very dark and horrible but luckily Richard Bean wrote it.”
Ralf, who came to TV fame at 18 when he played Antony in The Royle Family, said he’s had a taste of what Dylan is coping with: “I definitely have come across that. I’m 36 now and I’ve come through it..
“You do find that suddenly people are around you. It’s amazing how many people want to give you advice and want a piece of you.
“For me it was very low level but for footballers in particular when they get in the first team, everything changes.
“For me it was peer pressure and peer approval, people saying, ‘Go on, do that’. If I do this I might look cool in front of the lads.”
Ralf said that his memories of making The Royle Family are “laughing most of the time. My memories are turn up for work at 8, laugh for several hours, have lunch and go back to laugh for several hours, then go home and spend the evening remembering all those things that made you laugh during the day.”
He does remember being miffed that Ricky Tomlinson, who played his screen dad, would still expect him to make cups of tea during the breaks!
Ralf said that lots of fans of quirky BBC Three hit comedy Two Pints of Lager stop him to talk about that show.
The Nap premieres at the Crucible from March 11 to April 2. Box office: at the theatre, call 0114 249 6000 or at Sheffield Theatres