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The Queen guitarist makes his full acting debut in kids’ show Andy and the Band. He’s not bad – better than Vanilla Ice in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The world is filled with rock stars who want to be actors. Ringo Starr in The Magic Christian. David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth. Mick Jagger in Ned Kelly. Roger Daltrey in Murder: Ultimate Grounds for Divorce. Basically, throw a brick at any band, and you’re more than likely to concuss a frustrated actor.
However, one rock star has so far resisted the urge. True, Brian May has a jam-packed IMDb page thanks to appearances in everything from the video for Queen’s We Will Rock You to the video for 5ive + Queen’s We Will Rock You. However, the closest he has ever come to actually acting was when he performed a song as “Massed peasant chorus” in a long-forgotten, animated Pinocchio adaptation.
But this changes now. Thrillingly, at the age of 74, May has finally and truly become an actor. And even more thrillingly, guess which vehicle he has chosen to embark upon this amazing career change? That’s right, the CBBC comedy series Andy and the Band.
Parents will be more than aware of the Andy in question. For years now, Andy Day has all but dominated CBeebies and CBBC. There’s the show where he plays an accident-prone museum worker who has access to a time machine. There’s the show where he plays a safari park worker who can shrink himself. There’s the show where he just plays with some toy dinosaurs. Basically, Andy is great.
But you’re not going to easily convince a septuagenarian rock guitarist to shrink himself down to the size of a meerkat very easily, which is why Andy also made Andy and the Band. It’s a series where Andy’s real-life band, Andy and the Odd Socks, embark upon a series of larky Monkees-style adventures that culminate in the performance of a song. It’s very good. You should watch it.
However, only one episode contains an appearance by the Queen guitarist, and that is Planet Rock (on CCBC on 27 January, available on iPlayer on 24 January). Although May doesn’t appear for the first half of the show, he makes an enormous impression as the Godfather of Rock.
A slightly stilted-looking humanoid alien who lives alone on an alien planet made out of rock, the Godfather of Rock exists to pass on words of wise encouragement to his visitors. The Godfather is visited by his godson, who happens to be a member of the Odd Socks. The godson has an issue pertaining to his ability to play air guitar. May promptly solves the problem and then they all play a song together.
Thematically, the character that May seems to be inhabiting most closely in the episode is Rufus, the figure played by George Carlin in the first two Bill & Ted movies. He is elusive yet wise, his evident years of excess softened by his unwavering belief in the power of rock. He seems to exist in a permanent state of surprise, too, either because he has made himself open to all the manifest possibilities of the world, or because he isn’t very good at acting yet.
But for a first attempt, May’s acting isn’t that bad. As performances go, it’s certainly better than Vanilla Ice in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Jessica Simpson in The Dukes of Hazzard, or Madonna. This was a tricky assignment, and he pulled it off. Now, let’s hope he follows it up with the long-awaited Murder: Ultimate Grounds for Divorce 2.