Haven My SI­MON WILLIAMS

Now in East­End­ers, the ac­tor, 71, in the sit­ting room of his 19th-cen­tury farm­house in Ox­ford­shire...

Daily Mail Weekend Magazine - - NEWS -

1 FOUR-LEGGED FRIEND I can’t live with­out a dog, and two years ago, a month af­ter the death of our last one, my wife Lucy and I got Gussie, a cock­apoo, from ken­nels in South Wales. He’s quite stub­born, but a mar­vel­lous com­pan­ion and keeps me com­pany when I’m in the sit­ting room of our five-bed­room home. We’ve lived here 30 years and this room holds so many mem­o­ries of my fam­ily, as well as hav­ing a lovely view of the sur­round­ing coun­try­side. 2 LIGHT DRAMA My fa­ther, the ac­tor Hugh Williams, was a great fan of Shake­speare and had this or­na­ment fea­tur­ing the bard turned into a desk lamp, which has great sen­ti­men­tal value to me. Dad died un­ex­pect­edly in 1969, aged 65, while we were both ap­pear­ing in the play His, Hers And Theirs, which he co-wrote with my mother Mar­garet. The photo on the wall [far left] is a pub­lic­ity still show­ing the two of us in the pro­duc­tion. I trea­sure the pic­ture – there’s a lot of love com­ing out of his face. 3 RA­DIO STAR My wife Lucy gave me this cock­erel fig­ure for fun to cel­e­brate my land­ing the role of busi­ness­man Justin El­liott in The Archers in 2014. The ac­tor who was go­ing to play him pulled out at the last minute and the edi­tor called and asked, ‘Are you avail­able on Sun­day to do a few episodes?’ I must have been in nearly 100 now. I doubt Justin is ev­ery­one’s cup of tea – but, good or bad, you al­ways have to try to love your char­ac­ter. 4 LUCKY BREAK My whole wardrobe is made up of bor­rowed bits and pieces from act­ing jobs I’ve done, in­clud­ing this silk scarf, leather gloves and fake bow tie – I never learnt to tie one – that my char­ac­ter James Bellamy wore in the orig­i­nal Up­stairs Down­stairs, which ran on ITV from 1971-75. I was just 23 and land­ing a part in a drama with 18 mil­lion viewers was amaz­ing luck. I almost turned it down be­cause I didn’t think a TV se­ries about a fam­ily and their ser­vants would be a hit! 5 CLASS ACT My ac­tress wife Lucy’s mother was Celia John­son, star of the film Brief En­counter. She ap­peared with my fa­ther in a num­ber of plays, and this is a photo of them as El­iz­a­beth and Darcy in a 1930s pro­duc­tion of Pride And Prej­u­dice. Lucy re­cently found some won­der­ful letters be­tween Celia and her travel writer fa­ther Peter Flem­ing – brother of Bond creator Ian – which she’s turned into a show, Post­ing Letters To The Moon. 6 SOAP VIL­LAIN I’ve been play­ing the shad­owy prop­erty de­vel­oper Hugo Brown­ing in East­End­ers – and watched DVDs and tapes like this for re­search. Be­fore join­ing, I thought the reg­u­lar cast mem­bers might be a bit stand­off­ish, but ev­ery­one has been so wel­com­ing and play­ing a scene in the Queen Vic with Danny Dyer was magic. I’m ap­pear­ing in con­nec­tion with a par­tic­u­lar sto­ry­line and once that comes to an end I sus­pect that will be the end of Hugo. Still, it’s nice to have played a posh vil­lain in Al­bert Square!

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