A stunt mouse with “star quality” that’s appeared in a blockbuster Netflix show and EastEnders is making her debut in a Welsh language TV comedy series.
Tipper, the talented brown rodent, will feature in a key scene in one of the episodes in the second series of the award-winning sit-com, Rybish (Rubbish), on S4C.
Produced by Caernarfon-based Cwmni Da, filming took place at a real-life recycling centre in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
The first episode will be broadcast on S4C at 9pm on Friday, April 1.
The plotline involving Tipper is being kept under wraps but it is known that she will be seen in the Y Caban (cabin) where the six members of staff take a break from the daily grind of their working lives.
Producer and BAFTA Cymru award-nominated writer Barry Jones, known universally as Archie, said: “We wanted a real mouse so that it appeared authentic and Tipper proved to be just what was wanted. It’s not a big part but it’s still a very important part of the episode.”
Eagle-eyed animal lovers may recognise Tipper from one of her previous appearances on the BBC’s Eastenders.
Animal trainer Mark Amey said Tipper was seen scurrying about the London Underground station on the EastEnders set last year.
And he revealed Tipper has returned to Walford for another, yet to be broadcast, episode of the long running soap opera.
Tipper, whose was named by Mark because of a little white tip on her body, and her mum appeared in the hit Netflix show, Tiny Creatures, which was awarded two prestigious Emmy Awards for Outstanding Travel, Adventure and Nature Programme and Outstanding Cinematography at a ceremony in Los Angeles last summer.
Mark, who keeps and breeds exotic animals at his Hertfordshire home, said Tipper is from a long line of acting mice: “They live for about a year and a half and Tipper’s about ready for a well-earned retirement and possibly have a family of her own,” he added.
The first series of Rybish was filmed during the first Covid-19 lockdown and Cwmni Da built their own recycling centre at an old landfill site at Carmel, near Caernarfon.
According to Archie, the initial plan was to film the series at a real recycling centre.
He said: “Lockdown put an end to that idea and we built our own centre and the cast and crew created their own bubble living an old pub during the filming.
“We were delighted when Gwynedd Council said we could use the centre at Blaenau Ffestiniog. It is normally open three days a week and we were able to use it when it was closed.
“The centre staff, like the rest of the town, were very welcoming and helped us no end.
“The series has six episodes and they all relate to the same day at the centre. Obviously, we filmed over a period of weeks and the staff were really helpful in assisting us to maintain continuity,” he said.
While some scenes are shot on normal camera equipment the Caban scenes are filmed using fixed cameras.
“The actors sit in the Caban and perform their lines while the director, Sion Aaron and I sit in a gallery close by.
“We filmed the interior scenes with remote cameras hung from the ceiling, and because all the cameras were recording throughout, the actors were free to act the scene without having to worry which camera was capturing what.
“It gives the scene a fly-on-the-wall type approach which is very realistic and has worked really well,” added Archie.
Each episode features a guest star as well as the usual cast. Local people were recruited as extras who bring their unwanted items to the centre and interact with the actors.
The cast includes Dyfed Thomas, a native of Rhosllanerchrugog but who now lives just outside Llangollen with his wife, former Benny Hill actress Julie Kirk.
Dyfed plays Eurwyn, perhaps the most educated of all the characters who can recite poetry instinctively and who is a keen jigsaw player.
An actor with more than 45 years’ experience, Dyfed has focused on work behind the camera in recent years, mainly adapting novels into movie scripts.
“I’ve sold some scripts to Bollywood and in the past few years I’ve spent a lot of my time in India.
“The invitation to appear in Rybish was unexpected but I’ve really enjoyed it, especially being involved, albeit in a small way, with the creative process.
“My character, Eurwyn, is one of those traditional, ordinary and dear people who are devoted to Welsh culture. One of the quarry hut crew that could recite R Williams Parry without a problem. It’s very important to have people like that; genuine, hardworking and totally happy in their work and important that such characters exist on television to represent our unique Welsh culture and heritage.
“In playing the part, I almost feel like I’ve gone full circle in my career, returning to acting in my native Welsh and reminiscing about theatre work by being so close to the cast and crew.”
Dyfed added that after completing filming Rybish he is looking forward to taking part in another S4C programme later this year.
Rybish also features Sion Pritchard as Clive, the site manager and Betsan Ceiriog as Bobbi.
Rhodri Trefor also returns as Nigel, the worker with a theory to explain every possible aspect of everyday life and Mair Tomos Ifans reprises her role as Val, the monosyllabic gate keeper.
The sixth member of the cast is the wonderfully funny Carys Gwilym.
The series, currently in post-production, will start on S4C at 9pm on Friday, April 1.