I was fifty years old in March but for the last thirty years, this was the most asked question to me by family members, close friends, and random drunks in dodgy bars at 10:30 at night when I told them I was an actor. It's a question that all actors who aren't on a long-running soap have all get asked. For people outside our small world, it's the pinnacle of success, the apex mountain of acting, and most importantly it's a secure job doing what you love.
I've never been on Eastenders I'm afraid and I've never starred in a movie or played the lead in a West end show. I've never had my face on the back of a bus. I've never been recognised in the street, except in the '90s when everyone confused me with Ex-England footballer Graham Le Seux. But I have done many things that I've loved and been proud of.
I've toured the world doing what I adore. I filmed in countries from Dubai to Bucharest. I've toured a show on a bus with a baby singing Chris Rea's Road to Hell. I've performed in some of the most beautiful venues both inside and outside and I'm especially proud of the work I've done. I've worked with brilliantly, talented people who I love and admire. One of them is Bernadette my partner for 18 years strong. Like I said....I've done many things.
Now you might be thinking this sounds like an obituary or a retirement speech. When's he going to announce that he's taking up something else like photographing Fishman's wives in rural settings? No, I'm still going until they put out a court order for me to stop. Even then I might contest it.
When people think of being 50 and a performer there are conflicting thoughts. Some people think I should be now at my stage be performing at the national theatre, or writing for HBO, or directing for Dreamworks. The age weighs heavy because there is a tendency to be lost in people's expectations of success. I don't own a house, never going to inherit anything except hair loss, and a tendency to always be two hours early when traveling anywhere abroad. I'm not poor, but I'm not "comfortable" as people expect people to be in their middle ages. But I am also very happy, do some lovely work with some brilliant people and am always busy
Sometimes this " Why can't you get on Eastenders yet?' feeling is reflected when you apply for jobs or funding or even turn up for auditions at times. People in organisations look confused, start examing my IMBD pages furiously worried that they've missed something. I think it would be great to not forget this generation of middle age/older artists who are not millionaires, working in Marvel movies or dancing on reality TV shows.
I loved making things at home in the last couple of years starting before Covid with PITCHES which has won a few awards and be shown around the world to my recent piece of silliness SELF TAPE. Making stuff yourself without any gatekeepers and getting something to an audience quickly is something I love and will carry on doing.
Regarding Eastenders, there is a cautionary note. When I auditioned once for The Bill (a Long-running UK TV show) to play a murderer they saw me and I thought it went well. The next week they announced that after 27 years they are going to stop filming forever. So if I ever did get near Albert Square be aware that I might just be the harbinger of doom.
If you want a taste what Eastenders is missing out on then have a look at SELF TAPE