Friday, 4 March 2011

Changing Deckchairs.

The best Agent I ever had (and indeed made the huge mistake of leaving, not just once, but twice) was the lovely Bryan Drew. He took me straight from RADA and was the only one who ever had a plan for my career and without him I would never have had the success I had - I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. In the business we say that changing Agents is like changing deckchairs on the Titanic - but in Bryan's case he was certainly the most comfortable, generous, honest and helpful support I ever encountered.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Stephen Poliakoff

With all the new recent works by Stephen Poliakoff I was reminded of the fact that I met him almost thirty years ago for a possible part in his celebrated production of “Caught On A Train”. I remember a very pleasant meeting/audition with him and then, the next day, he phoned my Agent to say that I was his second choice and if his first choice wasn’t available then the part would be mine! I later found out his first choice was Michael Kitchen (with whom I’d shared a flat while we were students together at RADA) and he played the part beautifully. But what was fascinating was that when Mr Poliakoff was telling me about the play he told me that the lady would be played by Renée Asherson – the fact that it was ultimately actually played by Dame Peggy Ashcroft made me feel a whole lot better about being second choice too!!

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Can you guess what’s coming?

When I first went to RADA our music teacher introduced us to a couple of protégés for whom he personally had high hopes. They would keep appearing at his behest with new songs and numbers for us to try out and, to be honest, we found it all rather a chore!
One of the little shows we had to put together was a musical story about characters from the bible all sung in rhyming couplets. I played King Herod and it’s memorable for me only because it was the first time I ever dried during a performance (there were many, many more times to follow!) I sang the penultimate line from one particularly unmemorable song and then half way through the last one realised that it had to rhyme and I couldn’t remember what on earth it was meant to be. I gurgled and ground to a pathetic halt with a raspberry sound and was never quite the same ever again.
We later realised that we had been guinea pigs in the formative years of one of the World’s greatest ever musical teams and Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber had been working on what ultimately became Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Funny, isn't it . . .

One of the parts my agent sent me up for in the early days when I’d only recently left RADA was for the series “A Horseman Riding By” with the BBC. A couple of days later they told my agent that they had a short list of just two of us and couldn’t decide which way to go – so they literally tossed a coin to see! Nigel Havers got it instead of me and so started his most successful career. Funny, isn’t it, the way things happen.

Monday, 28 May 2007

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Sunday, 27 May 2007

Lord Laurence Olivier

This last week has seen celebrated 100 years since the birthday of Laurence Olivier. When I was a lad he was my Hero with a very capital H. At the age of 11 I went to the cinema three times in one week and saw ‘Hamlet’, ‘Henry V’ and ‘Richard III’ and I was never quite the same thereafter - I decided totally that that was what I wanted – to be an Actor. It’s true, I did have some success and my appetite whetted when playing King Herod in the Nativity at school when I was just 7 – but Sir Laurence was my defining moment.

I well remember the very first time I saw him live. It was at the Old Vic (a theatre I was to come to love many years later from the other side of the footlights too when I played
Ratty in Alan Bennett’s “Wind in the Willows”) when I was 18 and managed to get a ticket for “Uncle Vanya” with Olivier, Max Adrian, Michael Redgrave, Sybil Thorndike, Rosemary Harris, Robert Lang etc. etc. It was a wonderful evening and when I waited at the stage door and managed to get autographs from Sir Laurence, Michael Redgrave and Rosemary Harris my evening was totally complete.