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October 2018

Scooby Doo: ‘Meddling’

Scooby Doo: ‘Meddling’ 800 485 sashadmin

A Cartoon Calling

I remember watching American cartoons like Top Cat, Penelope Pitstop, Woody Woodpecker and Scooby Doo when I was a kid growing up in England.

Top Cat’s theme tune always stuck in my head, especially the line after ‘close friends get to call him T.C.’ I finally worked out that the lyric after was ‘pro-vi-ding its with dig-ni-tyyy.’ (I broach the subject in the first episode of my new podcast series with voice director Andrea Romano). Penelope Pitstop had a panoply of catchphrases from a cast of characters. Woody had his stuttery and buttery signature laugh, and Scooby Doo had the villain who would have gotten away with it if it ‘wasn’t for those meddling kids.’

Little did I know, watching the ‘tele’ after school in my humble hometown in north west England, that one day I’d join the cast of Scooby Doo to speak this classic catchphrase at the Warner Brothers recording studios in Hollywood.

My 1st Take

The surreality of that Warners session, some fifteen years ago, still makes me smile. Sitting with Casey Kasem and Frank Welker hearing them bring Shaggy and Scooby come to life, actually being in the same room with them, was a beautiful blast of intoxicating nostalgia.

As I recall, the session flowed with comfortable professionalism, interspersed with moments of fun and laughter. As it got closer to the ‘meddling kids’ line I had a mixture of nervous excitement well up inside me. Thankfully I was able to deliver an acceptable performance of it without stumbling over the words.

Over the ensuing years I’d be invited to speak the iconic cartoon catchphrase twice more and recently had the privilege of delivering it a fourth time, although I had no idea until a few minutes before I performed it.

Take 4

A few weeks ago I joined the cast of Scooby Doo to record the movie Scooby in King Arthur’s Court. Upon arrival at the studio I greeted the brilliant voice director Collette Sunderman with a hug, was introduced to the producers before I headed into the voice over booth. The engineer adjusted my microphone placement as I settled into my chair and I opened the script on the music stand in front of me.

“We’ll check levels in a moment Greg,” said Collette politely (as always) from the control room. “We’re going to start at line 29.” I scanned the page for line 29 and read it…

“And, I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kids and that mangy mutt of yours.”

This would become the fourth time I’d had the honor of delivering this iconic cartoon catchphrase on a Scooby Doo show. This is the kind of delicious career treat that the world of animation voice can regularly serve up at any moment, merely by turning the page of a script.

When you’re offered a role on a iconic cartoon show, your agent doesn’t call and say “Oh, by the way, you get to utter the classic catchphrase from the show.” Sometimes you find out only moments before recording it.

Dexter: The Definitive Moment

Dexter: The Definitive Moment 718 436 sashadmin

On Location

Lying stark naked on the floor of my trailer rehearsing my next scene up with Michael C. Hall the door swings open and John Lithgow walks in. “Oh my,” he exclaims, “Either I’m in the wrong trailer or…or…” John’s not often found without words. This is one of those occasions.

I pick myself up off the carpet, cover my body with a bathrobe and say what any self-respecting Englishman would given the circumstances… “Stay for a cup of tea?”

John and I exchange pleasantries while sipping tea for half an hour before I politely excuse myself to get back to preparing for the definitive moment of being serially killed on the Showtime television series Dexter.

In the Works

After final touches in the hair and makeup trailer I head to set, a derelict warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. It’s a particularly hot afternoon.

On Set

I remove my bathrobe and the props and wardrobe department start tightly wrapping my entire body in cellophane before I’m lifted onto a cold stone slab. My body temperature is rising and I start sweating profusely which causes the cellophane to keep coming unstuck.

Rehearsals Up

Michael and I discuss the scene with the director and go over his blocking before running the lines, then the crew is invited in to watch the scene. After rehearsal I’d normally return to my trailer to prepare for a scene while the crew make adjustments to lighting and camera placement, although today I decide to stay on set as part of my process. Trapped, overheating, naked, vulnerable and afraid. I want to feel as uncomfortable as possible for when camera starts rolling, and lying naked tightly wrapped in cellophane on a cold stone slab in a derelict warehouse on location in downtown LA surrounded by a busy television crew helps my sense preparedness.

1st Team is Up

Michael arrives back on set, senses my ‘uncomfortable readiness’ and asks if I’d like to start shooting right away (as opposed to another rehearsal). I accept his thoughtful invitation with a restricted and somewhat sweaty nod of the head. After a quick check on where he’ll slice open my cheek with the scalpel and the best angle to raise up the meat cleaver before the fatal blow to chop off my head at the end of the scene, we’re ready to shoot.

Pictures Up

First positions are called for, as well as quiet on the set. Sound speeds. Camera rolls. Action is called. The first take goes quite well, although there’s a few technical hitches. We shoot the master one more time before moving in for coverage. The crew are professional and collaborative and move fast and efficiently. Like most successful tv shows, they have their flow down and express good camaraderie to boot. Time is money, and in the eight days it takes to shoot a one hour episode of television a small mistake can set you way back behind schedule, especially on location when there’s less control of the elements.


Michael and the director graciously ask if I’d like to do my close ups first. I decline, citing my desire to be as uncomfortable as possible when we turn around on me. On the second (and final) take of my close-up I lose myself in the art in flow and spit in Michael’s face when he’s inches away from me. Then, at the definitive moment Michael raises the meat cleaver and makes the downward motion to chop my head off…

…And “CUT”

My head is pounding, my face scratched but unscarred as the crew rush in after the final take and hastily remove the cellophane and my body breaths a huge sigh of relief.

Being serially killed on Dexter was a serious business. All in a day’s work.