INTERVIEW BY: Des O’Connor & Melanie Sykes
DoC: Now our first guest for many years played the role of Dr. Will Preston in television’s medical drama Peak Practice. He’s soon to be back on our screens in Avenging Angels, a new 90 minute comedy drama for ITV. Please welcome Simon Shepherd.
DoC: Now, you played the dishy doc Will Preston in Peak Practice. He was a good guy, a really good guy. Now you’ve got this new guy in Avenging Angels and you play Pete Thorburne
SS: Pete Thorburne, who’s not such a good guy.
DoC: I would say he’s a bit of a tinker, not exactly Mr Pleasant is he?
SS: No he’s not and he’s a great character to play, a real tonic from Peak Practice. Very different, he’s very high energy. He’s an advertising chief and he’s a horror.
DoC: We’ve got a clip here – this is him!
Clip from Avenging Angels, showing Simon as Pete Thorburne
SS: Its a wonderful part
MS: If by nature you’re quite a nice chap it must be fantastic to get your teeth into a character like him
SS: They’re the best parts. He has all the good one liners in the office scenes. Poor old Jessica (Stevenson) just has to put up with him, she has to react to this monster. It’s a really good story.
DoC: Is it just a one off, because it’s 90 minutes or will it blossom into a series?
SS: I don’t know, it could. It’s absolutely open ended and it’s a sort of caper movie set in the advertising world. It could go into a series and I would love it to because for me it’s a smashing departure.
DoC: He looks like another JR, he does!
MS: Now we’ve got to talk about Peak Practice because you were there for 7 years and you walked away from that
SS: I walked away for 3 years in the middle
MS: Why did you leave in the first place?
SS: Because I felt Kevin Whately, Amanda Burton and I started it, they left and I did a year after that and then I suddenly thought; ‘Actually I didn’t become an actor just to play one part, however the great the part is, however great the series.’ So I nervously left and then was offered a huge amount of work, I left on the back of a film called Bliss. Then I did a film and several TV series. Then they asked me to go back.
MS: What influenced you to go back again?
SS: I’ve got four young kids! It’s a great part, and the public, god bless them! They kept on saying ‘When is Dr Will coming back?!’ Eventually it’s like an erosion, suddenly you go ‘Oh why not!’ It was great and I was thrilled to go back.
DoC: When you win awards for TV’s sexiest doctor. You can’t take it too seriously
SS: No l look at my kids and they really are going to say ‘Dad, You’re the English answer to George Clooney!’. It’s a good tag to have but you don’t take it seriously. There are lots of tags and that’s another one!
DoC: Will we be seeing anymore of Peak Practice?
SS: I think you can still get it on satellite and maybe they’ll repeat it one day but there’ll be no more new stuff, absolutely no new Peak Practice.
DoC: I guess you were always destined to be an actor because you were brought up in Stratford-Upon-Avon, right near the Theatre Royal, but not actually in the theatre.
SS: No, in the pub! In the Dirty Duck. If anyone knows Stratford, it’s just opposite the threatre. We used to live above the pub and my Dad was the proprietor of the pub for 30 years.
DoC: So you’d meet all the actors. Did you used to get a buzz from that?
SS: We used to get a buzz from the first nights. Mum and Dad would be at the hairspray, that was my Mum! And bow ties, in those days they used to wear bow ties. Mum’s black ruche dress used to come on. They’d be party atmosphere that went onto the early hours of the morning. My brother Robin and my bedroom was above the pub and you’d hear people roaring drunk and you’d think that was normal!
MS: But you’re father didn’t want you to be a publican or an actor?
SS: No, and I become an actor and my brother became a publican. That’s why I won’t tell my kids anything at all.
DoC: Acting can be a very precarious position and you’ve had highs, but along the way you’ve had some lows. You nearly lost your house once didn’t you?
SS: We have a house in Brittany. Classic mistake, you buy the house with the tax money and the tax bill comes in, and another baby’s on the way and the two income family suddenly becomes a one income family and you go ‘House, Tax, House, Tax, Bank, money please!’. And the bank actually bailed us out and then Peak Practice bailed us out even more, and it was the best job of my career, it was a wonderful job.
MS: What advice would you give to a wannabe actor?
SS: I would say is there anything else that you could possibly do! I really would, if there’s nothing else you can do then just grab it and do it. But it’s an extraordinary world, I’m very privileged to be in it.
DoC: It’s better than working isn’t it?!
SS: It’s much better than working!
DoC: Good luck with Avenging Angels – Simon Shepherd everybody!