Some questions I was asked about the programme for a forthcoming book.
1. What can you remember about first getting involved with Hardwicke House?
I don’t think I was on the list that the casting director drew up, but one of my best friends was up for a part in the series and said he thought there was a part that I’d be a good fit for – the well-intentioned but naive new teacher, Peter Philpott. I phoned my agent and they managed to get me an interview. Sadly my friend didn’t get the part he was up for.
2. For me, the cast are the real highlight of Hardwicke House, so what was it like working with people such as Roy Kinnear aka Mr Sitcom?
It was fantastic to work with such an incredible cast. Roy Kinnear was an absolute legend and I loved his dry sense of humour. I was a huge fan of Roger Sloman too – I regularly rewatch the BBC play “Nuts in May” , which I managed to record on one of its reruns. Most of my scenes were with Granville Saxton, and I loved working with him – if the series had run its course (and the second series, which we were already contracted for) I’m sure he would have become a household name. I had some fascinating chats with Gavin Richards about the Dario Fo play Accidental Death of an Anarchist which he adapted and starred in (and which I had played at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton).
3. What can you remember about the recording sessions? I’m led to believe it was in a disused school in Nottingham.
The series was shot on single camera. It was a lot of fun and we had a lot of laughs. The kids were great. Yes, it was shot in a disused school. I went on to play another teacher , Mr Seagrove, in two series of the ITV children’s series Big Meg, Little Meg – my memories of the two programmes get a bit confused!
4. The series was cancelled after just two episodes due to the mini-scandal it caused, so how disappointing was this for you as a performer?
Unfortunately ITV put the two programmes at 7.30 and 8.00pm when the producers had intended it to go out at 10pm. It wasn’t suitable for the early time slot which meant that a lot of people were offended by it. The comedy was extreme at times and the education system was not portrayed favourably. I had already signed for the second series so had turned down other work. I enjoyed rewatching the show recently and there are some great scenes, but looking at it again I now don’t think it really works.
5. Any other memories?
There were some fun journeys backto London on the train with other members of the cast – I remember Kevin Allen, in particular, being a little bit “mischievous”.