Suddenly this very thin, very nimble, not very tall and very good-humored man appeared in the drinking and dozing zone of the Cologne hipster hotel. He was just alone in the interview room, now he’s standing there in a silver vest in the deserted waiting area for journalists.
Stars don’t actually do that, they are happy to stay behind closed doors, protected from unpleasant speeches. But Matt Edwards is so pleased that a real, analog human has emerged after all those Zoom and Skype faces. Someone he can amaze with card tricks.
Matt Edwards, 37, is a very strange star in general. One that nobody here knows yet, but who has become a star with the role he has taken on, so to speak with a tap on his black bowler hat, as if through casting magic. When he was approached, he had from Pan Tau never heard of, the series never ran on TV in England. But in Germany in two countries: The adventures of Mr. Tau was called the socialist variant.
What is immediately noticeable at the meeting: Edwards moves at least twice as fast as all other people. This also applies to his facial expressions. But the other people aren’t comedy wizards either, and they’re called Matt Edwards.
Now he’s Pan Tau, yeah of the Pan dew. An elegantly dressed gentleman who knew almost everyone who was, say, between six and 14 years old in the 1970s, at least as well as Hildegard Knef and Franz Beckenbauer. A gentleman who said nothing, always smiled in a friendly manner without giving a single stupid grin, and helped children in a magical way.
Pan Tau is a modern fairy tale character, brought about by television
Every now and then he tapped his round bowler hat and then ran his hand along the brim of his hat, a magical hint, underlaid with a musical motif. Pan Tau is a modern fairy tale character, produced by television, the trustworthy product of a dream factory that was not in Hollywood, but in socialist Czechoslovakia. It also enjoyed a lot of recognition in the West, and so it came across the iron curtain to collaborations like that of the WDR with the Prague film studios Barrandov and the birth of a series that told of an elegant magician. He had come with a spaceship that looked more like Jim Knopf’s locomotive and if he wanted he could make himself as small as a Barbie doll.
For six years Pan Tau helped children cope better with the complicated, sometimes very unjust adult world. Unlike Harry Potter, he did not use his magical powers to use supernatural powers against overpowering opponents. Rather, he helped the children to see things they had not seen before and then to take all necessary steps themselves. This is how the new Pan Tau will proceed, his spaceship is in the showcase of a school. From there he sets off in 14 episodes. The children he helps are older this time. Because no bad associations should be triggered “if we let an older man with small children turn the corner”, explains director Franziska Meyer Price during the phone call.
The shrewd charm of this series was not magic, but above all – besides the playful scripts – linked to the man who embodied him in 33 episodes: the Czech actor and mime Otto Šimánek, who died in 1992.
When the team around producer Gabriele M. Walther started looking for a new Mr. Tau, it was clear that the casting of the title character would be decisive. The search was correspondingly complex. Now director Meyer Price reports in a good mood, but there must have been queasy moments. “We didn’t find anyone in Germany,” says Meyer Price. So they started looking all over Europe, which includes the use of YouTube. She calls the discovery of an English magician by the name of Matt Edwards, who performs his tricks in halls with 3000 spectators with all grimaces and slapstick slapstick of a real rampage pig, a stroke of luck.
“Too clowney. Not elegant!”
No sooner had Edwards entered the room during the casting than Meyer Price knew: It is him. Edwards doesn’t speak German? Pan Tau never says anything anyway. But then the work began to silence a man who loves to present magic with witty narration and slapstick. Edwards, who is now chatting cheerfully, had to learn to be still, and the entertainer, who knows how to win over full halls with big gestures for the back row, had to massively reduce facial expressions and gestures for the camera. A lively clown became a gentleman. How was it? “Very tough!”
And Matt Edwards immediately demonstrates how theatrical a sad expression must be for 3,000 people: With a long pleading look at the ceiling, the head not slightly lowered as in real life, but rather high. Totally strange, he says, amused. “I had to learn a whole new language to watch television.” Franziska Meyer Price traveled to England for ten days as a teacher in the matter of minimizing body language, which still has to be striking. “Too clowney. Not elegant!” He shouts again and again as he demonstrates the phases of his expression theory for the television camera. They practiced up to ten hours a day. “It’s been ten long days.” Until he has also mastered the finger exercise that everyone who has seen Pan Tau once and which is more difficult than it seems: dibibidibiti dutuuuuuuuu.
“It’s the melody,” he says. “You just have to type the melody on your hat and you know how to do it.”
But these are little things for a man who knew from the age of six that he wanted to be a wizard. Edwards grew up in small Needham Market, north-east of London – as the delicate variant of a three-year-old brother who has to be twice as strong and broad as he is. At least that’s how he told it: “The exact opposite of me.” Nobody in the family had anything to do with sorcery or performing. Matt Edwards stays tuned anyway. At 14 he is regularly on stage. By the time he graduated from school at 16, he had performed at hundreds of children’s birthday parties and learned his jester lesson every day: “As entertainers, we ask people to like us. The audience is not there for me. I am there for the people. It is not easy to always say: Here are some things to show you, please, please like them. ” He smiles broadly, very broadly. Too clowney? Anyway, that’s entertainment. Children as an audience? “Much harder to fool than adults, they are much more careful.”
Edwards then first tells about his parents
At 16, Edwards moved to the Spanish seaside resort of Salou, which was empty in winter and full of English in summer. For twelve years he performed in hotels, bingo shows, quizzes, magic. One evening his best friend, who brought him to Spain, reveals all the tricks to the audience shortly before his performance, suddenly he has to improvise. He starts telling jokes, explaining why everything went wrong. People don’t stop laughing. No matter how true this beautiful story is, Edwards can pull it out with the dreamlike assurance of the mischievous narrator. “I love to mingle with the audience, to interact in contact.” And that he wants to make people happy, with Pan Tau also a little hope for a friendlier world – that’s when the professional, trained in countless events, speaks.
Matt Edwards, the man who knows he relies on people to like him, has learned how to get positive attention over many years – sometimes doing three children’s birthday parties in a day. But that is perhaps only part of the explanation why he has actually become a likable new Pan Tau in episodes that take place in some major European city and do not use the old episodes. When Edwards talks about how he became a wizard, he tells a lot about his parents, especially his father, a police officer who always “gave him fantastic support and always encouraged him.” Never a word of doubt as to whether sorcery really could provide a solid foundation for a future.
His father drove him to every event. His parents said, do this when he told them his plan not to go to high school, and they paid him a flight to Spain to entertain English tourists drenched in the sun and sangria. But what about his brother, the bodyguard with the shaved head and the tattoos? “We shared everything and slept in one bed for many years. He loves my shows.” He tells how he showed his parents and brother the series a few days ago and walked out of the room so that they can enjoy watching it without feeling obliged to praise it in his presence. “My father said afterwards: ‘I forgot it’s you.'”
When you think of old Pan Tau, the first thing that comes to mind is the word “friendly” and, in a not at all stupid sense, also the word “good-natured”. Perhaps his successor had to come from that part of the English-speaking universe where a family without ifs or buts helped their child to become what it always wanted to be: a magician.
And then Matt Edwards conjures the eight of clubs, which his visitor has put back face down in the pile, folded out of his mouth. He is happy about the astonishment of the duped. how did he do that?
But do you really want to know? You never wanted that at Pan Tau.
Pan Tau. Das Erste, Sunday, 10:10 am, all episodes in the media library.