This is the VICE Interview. Each week we ask a different famous and/ or interesting person the same set of questions in a bid to peek deep into their psyche.
Ralf Little got famous at age 18, when he sacked off a future career in medicine to star as the affable Antony in classic cult sitcom The Royle Family. Now, almost two decades on in his mid-30s, he's still proudest of being a Royle, but can also add producer and writer to his name. Having finally accepted he'd never become a professional footballer (he was never actually that great), Ralf co-founded production company LittleRock Pictures in 2014.
The decision to spend some time working behind the camera turned out to be a good one. LittleRock Pictures produced Channel 5 mockumentary Borderline, which takes a comical look at one of the UK's most contentious issues in a post-Brexit world: immigration.
Just before his new show airs, we caught up with Ralf to chat about his mum's Sunday roast, break-ups, and the art of pontificating about liberal issues on Twitter for the sake of fighting the good fight.
Why did you break up with your first girlfriend?
I broke up with my first girlfriend because I had made the decision to move to London. I was in Bolton at the time and we'd been going out for a couple of years, and then I was moving to London and I didn't really fancy the idea of a long-distance relationship, and that's it, really. I did it in a really cowardly way though. I said to her, "Maybe we should have a break, see how it goes when I move to London." That's one of the few things I regret, actually. Then, from the comfort of being 200 miles away I said, "Well, I'm not really sure this is going to work actually." She was not happy but we bumped into each other again about three or four years ago and she was really cool and really funny. We're kind of good mates now, which is weird because I've always been very suspicious of people who are mates with their exes. I guess it's okay though, because it's been about 15 years. Plus I apologised to her, so that helped.
What conspiracy theory do you believe?
None. Zilch, nada, not one. I'm a liberal atheist with scientific leanings. I'm not a conspiracy theory man, I'm afraid.
What was your first email address?
It was firstname.lastname@example.org and I got it when I was about 20. People used to laugh, because I'd tell them what my email address was and they'd go, "It's hardly disguised, is it?" But I was always of the belief that if anybody wanted to stalk me, it would take some guesswork to just chance upon that email address. Now all you've got to do is go on Twitter and you can contact me anyway. It's really interesting to see how the world has changed – once upon a time you had to keep your email address secret so people wouldn't message you. Now we have whole global platforms for that very thing. I had to change it after a point, though. I probably read VICE or a similar publication that said, "Look, it's time to move on from Hotmail." I probably did it so I could be cooler or something.
What would be your last meal?
Probably my mum's Sunday roast. Nobody can do gravy like my mum. I've tried, I don't mind a bit of cooking, but nobody can do gravy like my mum, so it would have to be that. And with a bit of luck, that would mean I could hang with my mum too.
If you were a wrestler, what song would you come into the ring to?
Something ironic and comical, like "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" or "It's Raining Men" or something like that. I would just find it really funny to come out to a really camp song.
What film or TV show makes you cry?
I don't cry very readily at all. That said, The Iron Giant made me cry. It's an animation based very loosely on the Ted Hughes book and it's just a gorgeous, beautifully animated film; one of those movies that's really a kid film, but actually there's more to it if you look closer. It's brilliant. It always brings a tear to my eye because it's just really moving. There's a twist at the end as well, but I won't say what.
Without Googling, explain how global warming basically works.
Um greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere and they trap heat and, uh, it's caused because we're changing the components of the atmosphere. Largely, not so much because of the cars, but apparently mostly because of our taste for beef! There you have it.
You are having a conversation with a family friend, and they say something unequivocally racist. What do you do?
I would say something; I'd have to stop them. I wish I could say this was me, but I have a friend who drunkenly tried to perform a citizens' arrest on a black cab driver because he was inciting civil unrest or something. He said something racist and she went, "I'm sorry but that's not acceptable. Pull over, I'm performing a citizens arrest on you for inciting racial hatred." She had to just get out and get another taxi but you've got to admire her principles, especially when she was walking home in the rain. I don't know what I'd say, but it would probably be something like, "I'm sorry, can I just stop you there, because that doesn't work. We can't have that, and here are the reasons why." And then I'd probably launch into a really self-righteous lecture, which I'm good at, and you'd know that if you follow my Twitter account. I get people, usually trolls, calling me a liberal luvvy, which will never be an insult to me.
What have you done in your career that you are most proud of?
It's still The Royle Family, to be honest. I think it transcended class, gender, age, and when I watch it, I watch it just like a fan, because I didn't write or produce it – I was just lucky enough to be dragged along for the ride of a lifetime.
What have you done in your life that you most regret?
Splitting up with my girlfriend is still the biggest one in hindsight. I don't have a lot of regrets. I've enjoyed myself quite a lot, but I usually try to be quite decent.
If you had to give up sex or kissing, which would it be?
Well, it depends what mood I'm in. This is a really funny one, because you're forcing me to consider what I want my public persona to look like. If you want to sound really nice and romantic and have everyone go, "Oh, how lovely" then you say kissing. But if you want to be really honest, you say sex. So, I'm going to say I'd give up kissing – he says, lying through his teeth.
Borderline airs Tuesday 2nd August, 10pm, Channel 5
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