Christo­pher Ti­mothy talks Eas­ten­ders

Eas­ten­ders star Christo­pher Ti­mothy on a ca­reer which made him both Frank Spencer’s stooge and Bri­tain’s most fa­mous vet…

TV Times - - My TV Times Week - Eas­ten­ders Mon, Tue, THURS, FRI BBC1 / 7.30PM, 8.00PM Johnathon hughes

Christo­pher Ti­mothy may be re­tired on screen as Wal­ford pen­sioner Ted Mur­ray, but, at 76, the ac­tor won’t even con­tem­plate re­tire­ment. In fact, as we chat be­tween scenes, he’s un­fazed by the soap’s hec­tic film­ing sched­ule, sug­gest­ing this is clearly a man who still rel­ishes a chal­lenge!

Eas­ten­ders has scored a cast­ing coup in sign­ing the star, but it was the chance to work with fel­low telly favourite Mag­gie Steed, 70, who plays Ted’s wife Joyce, that sealed the deal.

‘I’ve ad­mired her for years, but we’d never met,’ says Christo­pher. ‘When I knew

she’d been cast, I screamed, “Yippee!” She’s a de­light.’

Hap­pily mar­ried, Ted and Joyce have been re­housed on the Square be­cause the block of flats they lived in for 40 years is be­ing de­mol­ished, but it’s clear there’s more to the Mur­rays than meets the eye.

Al­though Christo­pher is keep­ing quiet about the cou­ple’s dark se­cret, he’s only too happy to rem­i­nisce about his own past, as he takes us back to where it all be­gan...

‘I wanted to act from the age of seven,’ says the star, who was born in Bala, North Wales, and has seven chil­dren and three grand­chil­dren. ‘I re­mem­ber sit­ting in the cin­ema watch­ing an old Dirk Bog­a­rde film, and notic­ing the re­ac­tion au­di­ences had to the ac­tors. I thought it would be fan­tas­tic to re-cre­ate that.

‘I left school with one O-level and got a job at a gen­tle­men’s out­fit­ters. Even­tu­ally, my dad, who worked for the BBC, told me if I wanted to act I’d bet­ter get off my back­side!’

Christo­pher’s fa­ther, An­drew, was a fa­mous BBC an­nouncer, and set his son on the road to star­dom.

‘He ar­ranged some meet­ings at the BBC to dis­cuss get­ting into act­ing,’ re­calls Christo­pher. ‘I was ad­vised to go to drama school, and af­ter that I did a play in New York. That got me started.’

By the early 1960s, Christo­pher was part of Lau­rence Olivier’s Na­tional The­atre com­pany, rub­bing shoul­ders with Bri­tain’s finest thes­pi­ans.

‘There was Mag­gie Smith, Al­bert Fin­ney, Ian Mck­ellen… amaz­ing peo­ple to learn from.

I was par­tic­u­larly in awe of Mag­gie – and se­cretly in love with her!’

Christo­pher soon went from stage to screen, and he ap­peared in nu­mer­ous hit TV shows such as Z Cars, The Liver Birds and Some Mother’s Do ’Ave ’Em – thanks to a rec­om­men­da­tion from its star.

‘Michael Craw­ford saw me in a TV play and sug­gested me for the part. I was thrilled, but as the play was on BBC2 on Christ­mas Day against More­cambe and Wise on BBC1, hardly any­one watched it!’

Christo­pher’s big break came in 1978 when he played James Her­riot in All Crea­tures Great and Small, based on the Her­riot books about be­ing a coun­try vet. With its mix of gen­tle sto­ries, like­able char­ac­ters, beau­ti­ful scenery and cute an­i­mals, the BBC se­ries was a smash hit and ran for 12 years.

‘James Her­riot was a pen name for Alf Wight, a se­ri­ously good story-teller,’ adds Christo­pher, who lives in Sus­sex with An­nie, his wife of 35 years. ‘The tales per­fectly fit­ted a weekly for­mat. It may have over­shad­owed some of my other work, but I’m still very proud of the show. It was a joy­ous job and I feel lucky to have done it.

‘Last year the cast reunited to mark what would’ve been Alf ’s 100th birth­day. It was lovely to see Robert Hardy, Peter Dav­i­son and Carol Drinkwa­ter. Of course, Lynda Belling­ham [who re­placed Carol as James’s wife, Helen, and died in 2014] was sadly missed.’

An­other mem­o­rable role came in 2000 when Christo­pher starred in day­time soap Doc­tors as GP Mac Mcguire. ‘I had a ball and got to di­rect, which was fan­tas­tic. ’

Re­flect­ing on his many ca­reer highlights, easy-go­ing Christo­pher ad­mits he’s as pas­sion­ate about his pro­fes­sion as ever and has no re­grets – ex­cept per­haps one.

‘I never got the chance to turn on the Black­pool il­lu­mi­na­tions! They asked me years ago in the early days of All Crea­tures and Small, but the BBC wouldn’t re­lease me for the day. I was gut­ted. For­get knight­hoods – turn­ing on the lights at Black­pool, that’s the ul­ti­mate ac­co­lade!’

Beret funny: In Some Moth­ers Do ’Ave ’Em Set­tling in: Ted and Joyce in Eas­ten­ders

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.