Born in 1946 in Windsor, Norman Lovett is best known for his comic turn as Red Dwarf's slightly senile computer, Holly. But despite having the droll, hangdog face and dry, blunt voice of a natural born comedian, Norman didn’t do anything remotely funny until he was in his 30s. Having spent all that time working various dead end jobs, he took to the stage initially as a support act for punk bands (including, on one legendary occasion, The Clash).
Telly followed a few years on with Norman bagging the role of Holly in 1988. Holly has an IQ of 6,000, which, as has been noted by the crew of the Red Dwarf, is equivalent to 6,000 PE teachers. Such brainpower is necessary for the smooth running of the ship, although it’s never made clear why, despite being a computer generated image, Holly’s head is steadily balding. Perhaps babysitting such relentless prats as Rimmer and Lister is too much for even a supercomputer to deal with.
Norman played the massively intelligent supercomputer throughout series one and two, then returned to the role for the end of series seven and the rest of eight. In 2009, Norman stated that he wouldn't be doing any more work for Red Dwarf, due to clashes with writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. He was left feeling miffed when they asked him to keep his diary open for Back to Earth but then supposedly forgot to tell him they wouldn't be needing his services after all.
Norman's been a top stand-up ever since he joined the crew on Red Dwarf, and as well as performing at many of the country's top comedy venues, he's appeared on the small screen in sitcoms like Asylum - a 1996 series which flopped terribly but did launch the careers of Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson (yep, it came before Spaced). He also had roles in telly classics such as Keeping Up Appearances and The Young Ones, even if it was just for a couple of episodes. And in the early 90s Norman actually landed his very own comedy sitcom on BBC2 called I, Lovett (a series which took the Beeb four years of deliberating to commission, mind – the pilot aired way back in 1989). I, Lovett saw him play an eccentric character called Norman (see what he did there?) who bantered with a speaking dog, spider and array of inanimate objects. Hence to say it was a very surreal sort of sitcom.
He's done some serious acting too, playing the Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol and also Mr Follett in an adaptation of Henry Fielding's ridiculously long novel Tom Jones. Other bit parts have included small roles in The Bill and working with Gordon the Gopher, which he'd rather we didn't bring up.
With his sultry tones in high demand, he's also done a lot of voice-over work including a series of Sugar Puff commercials in the 1980s. His infamous tagline being, "Sugar Puff's, you'll go monster mad for the honey." Nice.
So what's Norman up to these days, then? Well, as well as filming his second stand-up DVD the sequel to his first Bags and Biscuits, Norm's also in the middle of penning his own autobiography, which will no doubt be a hilarious romp of a read. He's also doing the rounds of the comedy festivals, and will be making his usual appearance at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.