Paul Darrow at the Sidgwick Room

Newnham College, Cambridge: 30th October 1981

Tape 2 : Side 1: Transcribed by Una McCormack, Ann Bown, and Maureen Marrs

Paul...reaction for this programme is 72% which is very high. They are very happy with 60%. 72% is very high and that's why they had to do a 4th series because. They get a rough idea, and they usually say 8.7 million, and you can pretty sure 8.5 watched it, or maybe even 9. Is that clear? What a boring answer! Yes?
Question<unintelligible, unfortunately, as it's the source of much merriment and clapping - most likely something about whether he's ever worked before>
PaulNow there, you see, I'm not going to kiss you afterwards. Um...actually, you've touched a core there because when you do a series you become very strongly identified with it and people think you can't do anything else. As it happens I did a lot. A great deal. I've been in a number of television programmes but in order to get known, to become what the business calls 'bankable', you have to do a television series so if I put my name up and say, 'Paul Darrow' and people would come and see it and that's where the money comes from. Not just for me, but to put the play on in the first place. That's why I did the series - to get known. But I had done a lot before, I was with Bristol Old Vic on and off for about 4 years, and I did some marvellous stuff there, which I thought was wonderful. I did 'Long Days Journey Into Night', I did 'The Iceman Cometh', I did 'The Rivals', I played Butley and so on and so on. I played Edmund in 'King Lear', I played Alfie and played Luther in the play by John Osborne, and I did 'Look Back In Anger' for 10 weeks touring the Netherlands. I went to Canada in 'Rebecca' and I've done over 200 televisions and so on and so on. And people said, 'I know the face, you know, don't tell me.' And I thought 'Long Days Journey Into Night'. I'm one of the few actors in the world - I mean this is astonishing - there are no more than 20 actors in the world who have been in two plays by Eugene O'Neill - you didn't know he wrote it, did you? Ummm, two plays by Eugene O'Neill. OK, not many people *want* to be in two plays by Eugene O'Neill, but I happen to think he's a great writer and I regard it as a privilege having been in those two plays. And I thought, you know, I am an 'Actor' as a result of being in those two plays and I was very good in them! <laughter>

But it didn't get me anywhere, all right, you know, I got work, I scrabbled a living because it's a very dodgy business - believe me, very dodgy! A director actually turned to me, with a nasal voice, sounding a bit like Leonard Rossiter [cue impression]: 'What you need to do is get on the telly, a series, then I can use you in my theatre.' So I thought, all right, I will and I was fortunate enough to do so and, in fact, he does want to use me, and that again is something that I'm toying with now, he wants to use me in his theatre. So it helps that way. But yes, I've done a lot. It's a soul destroying business, it's a very disappointing business.

PaulI sincerely hope not. No, I wouldn't find that at all funny. No, if it was, I would be very disappointed. I do my best in what I do and this has been very successful for me and hopefully people will have enjoyed it, in whatever way. I'm beginning to sound like Winston Churchill, aren't I? [cue impression] 'But we are going to fight...' But I would like to go on, obviously, and do interesting stuff. That's why I try and *act* the part of Avon, I don't just want to make him... It would be terribly easy, actually, to make him the sort of glamorous character and all the little girls who don't know any better would say, 'Ooh, isn't he lovely, I love him,' and then they grow older. Yes, it's the older girls who say that... If they still feel that way, that's fine, but then I'm acting a role.
QuestionWhat's your favourite medium?
PaulBecause you can perfect it and it's marvellous, it's fabulous, it's really good. It requires a certain technique and there's some marvellous film actors. My favourite actors are film actors Marlon Brando and Newman, Redford and people like that. They are very good. Burt Lancaster - wonderful actor on film. Humphrey Bogart, perhaps one of the greatest, Spencer Tracy. Fascinating to watch and also it comes in here, you see, the eyes, and you can learn more about a person by looking them in the eyes. Go on, all look in each other's eyes. It's a cliché but it's true. It wouldn't be a cliché if it wasn't true, I suppose. You can do that with film, but you can't do it in any other media.

You asked the question, but I'm talking to *you*. Why am I talking to you? Because you're such a pretty girl!

QuestionWhat is your favourite film and who is your favourite screen baddie of all time?
PaulScreen baddie? I have a lot of favourite films. I very much liked 'The Magnificent Seven'. I like that very much, and obviously in a more serious vein, I like 'Citizen Kane', I think it is one of the greatest films ever made, but I like a lot of pictures, and I very much like 'Casablanca' and 'The Maltese Falcon'. I can do them both for you, if you like. My favourite baddie - umm - it's very difficult. I like Basil Rathbone, you know, but then he was a goodie a lot of the time, Sherlock Holmes. I like characters that are 'film noir' it used to be called, I don't know whether they call it that now. I like those sort of films. They are not really baddies, they're real people. Again, that's what I try to do with this guy. Bogart, for example, was excellent at those characters - those really nasty characters for which you had a great sympathy, so I suppose if you say he was a baddie, he was my favourite. He was very unpleasant in 'The Maltese Falcon'. [Cue impression]: 'But I love you, Sam!' 'Yeah, and I'll be waiting for you when you get out in about 20 years...'


Good? Thank you. You're very sweet. You started that, you must come to all my shows. Anything else? Yes?

Question<something about Captain Kirk>
PaulNo, I put on a tough impression sometimes, when I'm walking past a couple of kids and I think they might get stroppy, I give them a look, you know? No, no, of course not, I don't think so. Although I have a lot of respect for him - I created him, after all.
QuestionDo you sit down every week and watch the show on telly?
Paul[quickly!] Yes. Absolutely! I'm my favourite! Yes, I do, because it's the only way you learn. You look at yourself with a fairly critical eye. In my family you wouldn't get away with anything - my sister-in-law roars with laughter every time I come on: 'You! Trying to be tough! I've seen you in your winceyette pyjamas!'

[Much laughter]

My wife was once asked by a newspaper, 'What's it like living with a sex symbol?' and she said, 'He's forty and he snores!'

[More laughter]

So enough of that. So I watch simply to learn. And I quite enjoy the show, and I like to see what they've cut.

QuestionDo you get a lot of your best lines cut? Or did you used to before you became the central character?
PaulNo, I think because he didn't have his best lines cut that he became the central character. No, they didn't cut very much. *I* do. I like to pare it right down to the bone and if they give me these long speeches, because they seem to give me long speeches explaining what's happened, you know, 'It wasn't really telekinesis, it was a tele-ergotron, because I knew that she knew..!'


It's all rubbish. Actually it isn't rubbish, so they tell me, it's supposed to be accurate. I once had a very difficult speech very early on, and the director said to me, 'I'll cut that if you like, I don't think you'll get to say it.' And I did, I said it, it made perfect sense to me and they cottoned on to that and they said, 'Oh, Paul will say that', so I do say it. I say it very fast in case anybody is listening.


But Humphrey Bogart used to do that, he would explain, and I think that's very important do that. It's very difficult to keep the others going with you, because they tend to slow it up a bit and you want to go fast, but there you are. Yes, madam?

Question<something about Vila>
PaulAbout 5 minutes I think. Really. Vila was the sort of character who would search out the celebrity on the ship, wouldn't he, and he was a thief and somebody probably said to him, 'There's an even bigger thief over there' and he thought, 'I'd like to be with this guy.' It's the usual thing, Lord Alfred Douglas on Oscar Wilde's coattails.

[Much laughter]

Not *quite* in that, er... Oops! So, I think, about 5 minutes. Yes, madam?

QuestionWhy are the computers all male?
PaulBecause Angela Rippon [1] turned it down.


True, true - they asked her to play Zen. And she said no. So they eventually came up with a man.

[1]BBC newsreader.
PaulYes. Somebody died. Sometimes they make a mistake and sometimes during the course of rehearsals things go that shouldn't go, or are put in that shouldn't be put in that make it nonsense, and that's not easy. That's the script editor's job, to watch that, and that's why it's a very important job, and sometimes you get into a lot of trouble. But they tend to elbow the science fact to get over the characterizations or whatever. That's less important, they reckon, although they try to keep it as possible as possible. Of course, teleportation is impossible, we know that, but then how do you get from one place to another very quickly so that we can have an adventure? So we accept it. But generally some of the other things, I mean, there is such a thing as a tele-ergotron and telekinesis and all that sort of thing, if you believe in it. ESP etc. etc, yes, fairly accurate.

You're asking me a lot of questions!

Question<something about Avon's deathwish and an obsession>
PaulWell, it's not an obsession, actually, he just said it. That's all he said.
PaulAh, yes, that was in a specific context. The reason he said that was because he doesn't want to be stuck in a ship with this lot for too long. The ship, the new ship, is incapable for flying for any great length of time, so it's got to have fuel, so it's really for practical purposes. The Liberator could go on forever because it was powered by solar energy.


It was, actually. I remember that from a script. I have a terror of meetings like this, because people come up to me and say, 'You said, in episode whatever', and I'm going, 'Oh yeah?' Children are terrible. Eight-year olds will come and say, 'Avon?' There's one little boy who lives near me, this is quite a funny story, he's about eight or nine, and came up to me, and he said, 'I know who you are.' And I said, 'Do you?' And he said, 'Yes. You're Avon. But you're living here under an assumed name. But I won't tell anyone.'


I thought that was rather sweet. I met him in the butchers. His mother said, 'Oh, god, he wants to call the house the Liberator.'

QuestionDo you think that in some ways that it splits up the camaraderie of the crew, by the fact that you can now send off one or two, like Tarrant and Dayna off on their own?
PaulYes. It does. That's deliberate. It can take the pressure off any one actor. Because, to do... It may not look it, but we don't make it up as we go along, and it's a very arduous job, and I've lost a stone since we started this. Isn't that terrible?
Paul[Aside to interviewer] We are going out to dinner after this, aren't we?

So, yes, it's to take the weight off any one particular actor and, in fact, I have, I think, two episodes... In the last one, I didn't have very much to during that, so I had virtually a week off in that one, which was quite nice. And then, I think there's an episode later on where I don't have quite so much either, and then there's an episode where... Servalan doesn't appear in every episode. It's to take the weight off.

QuestionDo you ever get tired of fighting cavemen? Every series, you seem to fight these tribes.
PaulYes, it's true. I do, actually. I'm getting older now, and I sometimes get there. The last director we had, he's a very tough guy, and he said, 'OK' and he's foreign [assumes accent]: 'All right, now, vot ve do here, you're on ze cliff front,' I said, 'Yes,' and he said, 'you do ze back flip,' and I said, 'Hang on!' 'You do ze back flip, you land on both feet, and you fight off the men. Stunt arranger will arrange it.' And I said, 'Oh, well, erm, yes.' And the stunt arranger said, 'It's actually quite difficult to do a back flip from a lying down position. You need to be fairly fit.' 'Well, if we do it on a slope, can he do it?' 'Well, possibly, if he's willing to try it.' So I did it, but the bastard made me do it eight times. But you have to fight them, they're usually cavemen. They've either got to be highly sophisticated societies, haven't they, or they've got to be... So, yes, I do...
QuestionThey're getting ridiculous, the last lot with horns...
PaulThey were half-animal, half-man. I didn't actually fight any of them. Yes, madam?
PaulIt takes two weeks to rehearse, and three days in the studio, but outside filming takes some time, and... Where are *you* going?
Audience memberI'm going to London, actually.
PaulOh, you're going to London? I'm not going back tonight, I can't give you a lift, sorry.
Audience memberThanks anyway.
PaulNot at all. Bye bye. And then the special effects have to be put on, and obviously the guns that we were talking about earlier, although they do fire a charge although not too big because that would kill the person, which would be awkward if they've got to be in the next episode, and they tend to...


Oh, we've bored someone at the front. So they've got to put the special effects on, so that takes time, so all in all it takes two weeks for us plus outside filming, then another two weeks while they video edit, film edit, put on the music and so on and edit some scenes out and tighten up things, like every time I fire a gun, she wants to take a close up, this particular director, in this episode, for example, takes a close up of the gun being fired, of me looking as if I'm about to kill someone, of the fellow looking like 'Oh my god, I'm going to be killed, of the fellow actually being killed; that's four separate shots. It takes roughly twenty minutes to set up each one. So it takes quite a long time to shoot. And it's over in a flash, of course. Yes?

QuestionHave you ever seen 'Pigs in Space' on 'The Muppet Show'?


PaulNo. Somebody actually made the mistake of telling Jackie who plays Servalan that she reminded her of Miss Piggy, which didn't go down terribly well! I said, 'Actually, it's meant as a compliment, I'm sure,' but she wasn't too pleased. But, no, I haven't, well I have seen 'The Muppets' and I have seen the bit about them, but not very much. But it is very enjoyable, yes. They have been going on a long time. My favourite is the sort of vulture. I like him.

[Shout from the audience]

Is that what it is? It's an eagle? Well, it keeps coming in and it's rather creepy. It's a part I'd like to play. Yes, sir?

PaulYes, yes, the most I've ever had to do personally, others have gone longer, was eleven - eleven takes on one whole scene. I had to go through it, and I was doing all the talking. And I got very, very <unintelligible> And the reason I was asked to do it again was because I got one word wrong. And getting back to your point, it was a scientific word, which the author insisted had to be said, because it explained the science of that particular area. And I got very cross about that but, in fact, of course, he was right, if you're going to do it you've got to do it right, and I had to do it eleven times. I wasn't very pleased, but there you are.
QuestionWhat was the word?


PaulI don't remember! I really don't! Something to do with putting the ship behind the moon of a planet so that the electronic tracking device would be thrown off beam by the moon - oh, it was very complicated! The girl sitting next to me was going, 'Ooh, isn't he wonderful?' That sort of look. And I didn't really understand it, but apparently, you can throw off an electronic beam if you go very fast behind, and eclipse yourself, and then come out the other side or underneath - it's like radar, you can come in below that. Something like that. Again? Yes, madam?
QuestionIf we're going to do autographs we ought to stop now...
PaulWell, it's up to you - I'll talk all night.
QuestionWe'd like a vote at this particular point...
PaulWould we! I didn't say anything! This is real democracy here! We'll do what you say, huh? Right! Whatever you want. If everybody wants to stick around, I've got a very comfortable chair...
QuestionIt's about 10 o'clock now, and I think really we should be out of here by about 10:30. So, if we could have a vote, between those who would like to have autographs signed, or those who just want to go on talking as we want now. First for autographs?


PaulNobody! What about leaving? What about dinner! Where do we eat - we can't all get in! I'm not going to eat alone, am I?
PaulGood. Yes? We're going to your place? Chicken soup? Yes, I do. Umm. I didn't eat, you see, because I got stuck in this traffic jam and I'm starving, I'm smoking myself stupid and I'm running out of water. And we can't change it into wine, can we? Nobody wants to ask more questions? Yes sir?
QuestionHave you done any horror films?
PaulHorror films? No, I haven't. I did an episode of 'Hammer House of Horror'.
QuestionI saw that.
PaulYou saw that?
QuestionYou didn't play the chief baddie in that?
PaulNo. I'll tell you why I did that. Mo-ney. They paid a lot of money. I didn't want to do it at all. I got the script, and I said, 'This is rubbish,' And the director, who's a very good director called Don Sharp, rang me up and said, 'Actually, I can do something with this script. It's not great, but I can do something with it. This part - it's not great, but maybe you can do something with it,' and then they quoted the fee, and I said, 'I'll do it!'


So I did. I got paid more for that than I've ever been paid for anything. Really. I mean, I bought my car with it. Second-hand.

QuestionAre BBC salaries really that bad?
PaulThey're not good. They're not good.

[Someone getting up to go]

Goodbye! It's been very nice to meet you. And you're taking all your friends with you! The lady with lighter, is she leaving yet? No, you're still here. Bye, it was nice of you to come! Thank you very much. I hope it was OK. What have we missed on the box? Nothing? Don't hesitate to leave if you want to! So anybody else want to ask anything else?

QuestionWhen I heard Jacqueline Pearce talk about her role as Servalan, she implies a very sexual relationship between Servalan and Avon, especially that notorious basement scene. Do you find that out of place for some of your age group audience.
PaulSome of them I suppose, yes. She very much wants it to be an adult programme! [Laughs]

[Everyone laughs!]

We'd never get it on, we really wouldn't! And she likes that, she likes the relationship between them, she thinks that should be developed. In fact, there is a moment in one episode where it goes a bit further - just a bit.

PaulYes, yes, that was a bit dim of her, wasn't it? I don't think it was written in. She does mention it later on, she assumes he's alive. At that time, she was more concerned with something else. Because of course she's on the run a bit from the Federation now, because the liberals have got in, or the SDP, and she wants it back to the good old Tories! You know Terry Wogan describes me as if I were in Parliament as being Michael Heseltine [2]? Not bad, actually - he's a good-looking guy! [2]Michael Heseltine: Conservative politician, sometime President of the Board of Trade. After resigning in the mid 1980s, he positioned himself on the backbenches as Thatcher's main critic and a potential successor. He stood against her in the leadership contest in 1990, forcing her resignation, but ultimately lost to John Major.
QuestionWhat do you think of the political motivation behind it? Because what was striking to me about the episode where Servalan reappears was that it was very colonial, down to the teacups, good old chaps, very British Empire.
PaulYes, we actually heartily embarrassed Edward Heath [3], or rather Jackie did. We went out to a restaurant in London, and Edward Heath walked in, and Jackie said, 'That's Edward Heath - introduce me!' And I said, 'But I don't know him!' But that's never been a stumbling block for Jackie, so she said, 'Introduce me anyway!' So I thought, 'All right then.' So, I knew somebody that Edward Heath knew, so I used that to talk to him, and I introduced Jackie to him, and he'd never seen the programme, so he said, 'What part do you play?'


And Jackie said, 'I play a sort of Margaret Thatcher of Outer Space!'

[Much laughter]

And he went, 'Aaaawwwww!' And I hoped he wouldn't ask me who I played, Wedgie Benn [4], I suppose. But anyway, he thought that was very amusing. And then he said [cue impression], 'I'm afraid I haven't seen your programme,' and she said, 'You should watch it, it has more viewers than you have at the moment.' I thought, 'My God!' I didn't know where to put myself! She was very embarrassing. But he was very charming, of course, and liked her immensely, and signed his menu for her, and said [cue impression], 'Bye bye Jackie!' when we left - that sounded like Robin Day [5] then! What was the question? Politically, she's right, of course, just a touch right. And Avon's a touch right as well, very much so. In fact, I thought he'd be very right. I thought he wouldn't let the black girl on board, but... but they thought, no, that's going a bit far. I'm joking, you know! God! Oh dear! Rastafarian Congress beat me up! Yes sir? Oh god, he's come up with another one.

[3] Edward Heath: Conservative Prime Minister, 1970-74; lost the leadership of the Conservative Party to Margaret Thatcher in 1975, and has never forgiven her. Their long-standing rivalry and mutual contempt are still, enjoyably, in full swing.

[4] Anthony Wedgwood Benn, Labour politician, known as Tony. Elected an MP in 1950, Benn succeeded to a peerage in 1960 (which would make him ineligible to remain a member of the House of Commons), and his struggle to renounce his peerage, ultimately successful, forced a constitutional crisis. Benn's reputation as an extreme left-winger has sidelined him in the party since the mid 1980s, but he remains one of Britain's most enduring politicians.

[5] Journalist, fabled for 'hard-hitting' political interviews and unconscionable bow ties.

QuestionDid they actually steal the teleport at the start of the season? Why did it just materialize? <some more that it unintelligible, perhaps about the unlikelihood of this?>
PaulI think they did pinch it, yes. I think so. I couldn't stop that. But I think they saw it as a good way to get you very quickly into a situation of some danger. And then, of course, it can get you out. They do it slightly differently, in fact in this series they've altered it, because we thought it was getting a bit like that, or they thought that, whoever they are. Yes?
QuestionI always wondered when you were teleporting down why you're all facing the same way, because if there's something behind you...
PaulBecause then you get to do that flash movement!

[Much laughter and clapping]

Yes sir?

QuestionAre there any famous people who want to do the programme?
PaulYes, yes there are. There's a queue to get in as a guest artist. Really, believe me, there are. One director actually suggested it to John Geilgud [cue impression] 'Oh, really, I don't really see myself in that, but I'd love to do it.' He wasn't available at that particular instant. And actually some of the guest parts aren't that good. Basically, it's the regulars. Later on, as I say, we've had a few. One part was offered to Colin Blakely, who's a very fine actor, and he couldn't do it. He wanted to, he told me, 'I'd like to that. My kids love it and it would be a bit of fun' but we've had one or two interesting people in it, we've had Paul Daneman in the past, and Ronnie Lacey who's now in 'Raider of the Lost Ark'. They all do terribly well when they do 'Blake's 7'. Julian Glover's been in it who's now in a Bond film and so on and, as I say, we've had Roy Kinnear, who's gone at it in a slightly different way, and Stratford Johns, who's a very good actor... Who else have we got? Who have we got in the current one? David Collings, anyone seen him?, a very good actor, he's a guest artist in this. My wife is in the last one...
QuestionDoes anyone watch it who's famous?
PaulYes, Paul Schofield spoke to me yesterday. 'Hello!' he said, 'You're a lad, aren't you?' No, he didn't say that. But he spoke to me, yes! Yes, a lot of them, they love it. It's fun, it's very relaxing, particularly if you're a theatre actor, which we all are, if you're working in the theatre and you're not on... Roughly at that time, if the show goes up at eight o'clock. If you're not on till half past eight, and you've got to play King Lear or something, and you watch the first twenty minutes of 'Blake's 7' it's very relaxing. Yes?
QuestionWhat do you do in between series?
PaulI've worked on one or two other things, I did this 'Hammer House of Horror', and I did a show called 'Drake's Venture' which lasted two hours and it took us three months to shoot that. I did a play at Coventry, I did a play at Derby, I did four chat shows on the movies for Western Television, I did a radio series lasting seven episodes, I did a radio play, various other things. They soon mount up. I have done other things, you see!
QuestionHave you done any Pinter?
PaulPinter? I would very much like to do. I never have, no. I'd like to be directed by him, as well, I believe he's very good. My favourite playwright is John Osborne, and I go anywhere to be in any of his plays. And indeed I have. As I said earlier, I toured the Netherlands in 'Look Back in Anger' and I played 'Luther'. And I've done 'A Patriot For Me' and various others. I like him very much. But you're right, yes, I'd like to work with Pinter, and in his work. Yes?
PaulMmm. Oh yes, Clint Eastwood is coming over here to do a movie and I very much want to meet him. He's going to direct it, he's not going to be in it, it won't be a Western, but I'd like to work with him. I'd love to do a Western. This is the closest thing an Englishman really gets to a Western, isn't it? Although Kenneth Moore did one, and Sean Connery did one. Most actors would like to do a Western at some time or another. The hat and the boots, you know? And all the cool remarks. 'How much for the horse?' 'A thousand dollars.' See if you can guess the film. Gary Cooper says to Burt Lancaster, 'How much for the horse?' and Burt Lancaster replies, 'Thousand dollars, friend.' 'A thousand dollars? That's <unintelligible>'


It's 'Vera Cruz', it's a Robert Aldrich film, made in 1954. Later on when he's riding the horse, the <unintelligible> come riding over the hill and they start shooting at him, and Gary Cooper says, 'Why are they shooting at me?' and he says, 'That's his horse you're riding!' All these lovely lines, wonderful lines. 'The Magnificent Seven' was full of them, wasn't it? 'Did you get elected?' 'No, but I got nominated real good.' And his cigar is broken, you know, things like that. Wonderful.

QuestionDid you always want to be an actor?
PaulNo, I wanted to be a sugar planter.


That sounded terribly romantic, you know, ride around on a horse in Cuba or something. But I soon got over that, and my father wanted me to be a lawyer, a barrister. And, in fact, I worked for a firm of solicitors for a little while, while I was waiting to go to RADA. But when I was about thirteen, I used to go to films a lot, I'm an only child, and I spent a lot of time on my own, and I used to go to the movies a lot. I know a lot about the movies, that's why I did those movie chat shows. And I thought, 'This is wonderful, I'd like to be involved with those,' and it seemed to be that being an actor was a good way of getting in. And so I decided to be an actor. Eventually I would like to produce, direct, do all those things. Write music. Design the costumes. Play all the parts. Even the horse. And so, in a way, you could say almost I always wanted to be one. It's a very depressing business in many ways, but it can be very joyful as well.

QuestionHave you ever wanted to give it up?
PaulNever wanted to. Sometimes it's wanted to give me up. But I've been very lucky, touch wood, because the majority of actors are out of work, as I talk to you now I'm working, 70% of actors are out of work. As far as earnings are concerned, and I don't earn all that much, I'm in the top 10%, which is terrifying. And people do write to me and say, 'I want to be an actress or an actor, or something' and I write back and say, 'Don't.' And anyway if you want to, you may or you may not. I think being an actor is because you're 90% dissatisfied with your own personality. It's great fun, acting, but you've got to work to do it. Yes?
Question<something about musicals>
PaulNo, I can't sing. Put it this way, he's Pavarotti compared to me, really. I can do a fair Elvis imitation, but that's about it. You want a medley. I was a great fan of his, still am. Great man.
QuestionI heard that there were vague rumours that Paul Shelley, who some of you might remember from 'Secret Army' and from a guest appearance in 'Blake's 7' [6], would perhaps come back as your brother, as a Federation officer. What happened to that, and would you have liked that?[6] As Provine in 'Countdown'.
PaulNo, I killed that one. He was too good! Yes, it was an idea, because Paul and I apparently look a bit alike. And he was good in that episode, wasn't he, and he and I have known each other a long time. We were at the Bristol Old Vic together, and he said, 'This is fun,' but he said, 'I don't think I'd like to get stuck in it because then there'd be two of us, wouldn't there? We'd be fighting over who's going to have the best lines.' So I don't think he wanted to do it, and it would be tricky, because we'd be very similar characters, wouldn't we? Sooner and later you're going to have the episode 'Gunfight at Jupiter Junction', aren't you? We're running out of questions.
PaulOne of my greatest regrets is that I never went to University. I would have loved to. Now I look back, and I think you're... maybe you don't think you are, you're very fortunate, and it's a marvellous thing. I went to a very good school. Michael Keating's gag is, 'I went to a very good school, it was approved.' My father said to me, 'I'm going to send you to a public school,' and I thought when I was 10, 'Public school? That means anyone can go, sounds like a public lavatory or something.' But I later learned that, of course, it was quite advantageous to have been to a public school, so I went to one, yes.
Question<something like 'what would you have liked to study?'>
PaulHistory. And English. Yes. Is that yours? I speak English, and I have a history. I'm very interested in military history, particularly the Napoleonic Wars, and the American Civil War. I want to write a book about the American Civil War. But so many people have, no-one will buy it. But really, it's when you become a very successful actor. Paul Newman said, now he's become a very big, successful actor, all he really wants to do is race motor cars. And I think that's possibly what might happen, but I haven't got anywhere near where Paul Newman's got, so I've got a long way to go, but hopefully if I ever do, then maybe I'll end up doing something else. It's sad, isn't it? What we were saying earlier on, or rather what I was saying in answer to your question, about finally he gets the spaceship and it blows up in his face, and he doesn't really care anyway because he's achieved it, life's become a great success and you don't really want it and you want to do something else. And it gives you the power to do it. McQueen, Steve McQueen is a friend of a friend of mine, he's a photographer, and he said all Steve ever wanted to do was ride the bike. And they were having kittens during every lunchtime on filming because he'd be going, 'Right! Here we go!' And the film would be over if he crashed it. [Pause] It's getting very sombre here! It's twenty past ten, I don't want to say anything, but my stomach's rumbling! Shall we have, say, a couple of last questions? Or no questions? Ah! Yes sir! Ma'am? I can't tell!
QuestionWhat does Avon think of Soolin?
PaulWhat does Avon think of Soolin? Switch that off! Not a lot. Not much. No. But then he can't, really, cos he doesn't really know her, does he? She doesn't really do anything at the moment. A little later on I think she saves his life. But then, he saves hers, so... She, actually, it's a bit unfair. It's very difficult to come into a series in the fourth year. She was a replacement, you see, for Cally. She wasn't going to be, she was going to come in later on, as another character, with Cally there as well. But when Cally, Jan rather, decided not to do, they had to accelerate her entrance, and consequently she doesn't have very much to do, and they fell between two stools, they didn't know what to get, what sort of lady to get, so it's been difficult for her. So his attitude to her is much as it is to the others. Also, she's very young. He doesn't like girls, he likes women. Sir?


PaulVery good question! I'd have to think about that one. No, I don't know. You mean on his gravestone, rather than his last line? Yes. WC Fields has a wonderful one on his gravestone, 'Well, it's better than playing Philadelphia.' He would probably have something like that, I suppose. I don't know. It's a very good question. Maybe we should have something like that as a competition, what would be his epitaph. Maybe 'I did it my way' or something like that, I don't know. 'And wished I hadn't.'


What did you say? You got a big laugh there. What did you say? I might want to use it! Write it down!

QuestionOne last question, anyone?
QuestionHow would you like to see Avon end? Die? Or carry on? Or take over the Federation?
PaulDie. Yes. Gunned down. In the back. Yes?
Question<something about comparing 'Star Trek' and 'Blake's 7'>
PaulActually, do you know that the Federation is such a bad place? If you look at it from the Federation's point of view, all right, Servalan's a hard case and rather ruthless, but, if the Federation's a fairly reasonable organization, these men and women are criminals, they're terrorists. And I've never forgotten that. And that's why I play Avon the way I do. He's a killer and a terrorist, and from a certain point of view, he should be put down, as it were. On the other hand, he's heroic, because the Federation's supposed to be a bad place. Although I would suggest that perhaps it isn't. I mean, he's never actually said anything against the Federation, Avon, if you think about it. He was part of it. He just tried to do them out of a lot of money. That was all. He was perfectly prepared to live within the organizations, so maybe it's not as bad as all that. Although 'The Guardian' [7] did write an article about it when it first came out equating the Federation to Nazi Germany and so on, and we were the Dirty Dozen, which was the original idea. Terry very much wanted us to be the Dirty Dozen in Space. Very nasty pieces of work. And then, I think, they chickened out on that and thought, 'Well, no, we can't have too many nasty people, we'll allow, perhaps, one' and you're looking at him. OK? Well, thank you very much!

[Much applause]

[7] National broadsheet newspaper, mostly left-wing.

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Last updated on 17th of July 1999.