Just Williams

In Am­bridge, where my heart is, there are no cam­eras, ergo no need to shave or hold in my stom­ach as Justin El­liott

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - NEWS - Ac­tor Simon Williams is our new colum­nist

Simon Williams on flit­ting between Al­bert Square and Am­bridge

BY BE­ING CAST as a mys­te­ri­ously malev­o­lent posh (and there­fore vil­lain­ous) char­ac­ter in Easten­ders, I have won the ap­pro­ba­tion of my brother Hugo, the renowned poet, who loves the show and tells me that he sees it as ‘a post­mod­ern vari­able’. I’ve never been sure when his tongue is in his cheek. I tell him that I see it as Game of Thrones with cos­tumes from TK Maxx.

In the scripts to date I am re­ferred to enig­mat­i­cally as ‘The Chair­man’. I have no name, but the script depart­ment have lent a kindly ear to my re­quest, and I am now look­ing for­ward to see­ing my brother splut­ter over his post­mod­ern Pot Noo­dle when he hears that The Chair­man has been anointed: Hugo.

I have ob­vi­ously signed an NDA re­gard­ing the plot, but even with the truth drug cours­ing through my veins I couldn’t b egin to give away any se­crets – not least be­cause I re­ally haven’t a clue what’s go­ing on. I wear good suits and heavy glasses, and I don’t do smil­ing. Per­haps Hugo has come to Wal­ford to give elo­cu­tion lessons as they pre­pare for gen­tri­fi­ca­tion. Hav­ing watched the show for some time and seen the in­te­rior of most of the houses on Al­bert Square, I reckon the wily busi­ness­man could make a killing with a Far­row & Ball fran­chise – my dear, some of those wall­pa­pers are just so de trop, aren’t they?

Walk­ing into The Queen Vic for the first time was déjà vu with bells on. The cast were friendly be­yond the call of duty as they slipped ef­fort­lessly in and out of their fa­mous al­ter egos. There’s no time for any of the usual flim­flam – like mo­ti­va­tion. The ul­tra-cool Danny Dyer even uses rhyming slang in real life. Linda Henry as the savvy Shirley Carter could go toe to toe with Maggie Smith in a thrilling clash of the ma­tri­archs – Bel­gravia vs Wal­ford.

Nor­mally the lo­ca­tions I in­habit on film or tele­vi­sion are pretty grand (long gravel drives and rhodo­den­drons) and it’s easy to spot who the ac­tors are – they’re the ones in bon­nets and frock coats or at least tweed – but it’s not so easy in Al­bert Square, where cast and crew are in a per­ma­nent state of dress-down.

Mean­while, in Am­bridge, where my heart is, there are no cam­eras, ergo no need to shave or hold my stom­ach in as Justin El­liott. Best of all, I don’t have to learn the lines.

Re­cently, Justin and his fi­ancée, Lil­ian, have been given a num­ber of scenes on horse­back. Imag­ine: a win­dow­less stu­dio in the mid­dle of Birm­ing­ham, Sunny Or­monde (who plays Lil­ian) and I stand­ing in front of the mi­cro­phone with our legs astride in­vis­i­ble horses, clutch­ing our scripts for dear life as we strug­gle with our ris­ing trot. Ra­dio vérité. The sound tech­ni­cian in the booth will add the bird­song and hooves. There you have it: an ev­ery­day story of coun­try folk.

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