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Radio Times May 2005 Interview with Andrew Duncan

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Joined: 09 Feb 2006
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Location: Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 6:38 pm    Post subject: Radio Times May 2005 Interview with Andrew Duncan Reply with quote

In a May 2005 Radio Times interview with Andrew Duncan, Paul said, "I wouldn't swap the way I was brought up. It was lovely, feverish, passionate and guilt ridden. As a Catholic kid you believe in an avenging God and mortal sin." About his father, he said, "He wore a white coat and did shift work, and as he was dying [at 60 from heart disease] he warned us, 'Never do shift work.'"

And in a interview about The Monocled Mutineer, he said that after leaving school, he started work in a local social-services office but hated the job and only took it to appease his parents after he'd been chucked out of the sixth form.

"You know how it is--you get to 16 and suddenly all these exams and things come along, just at the wrong time when you're more interested in the various extracurricular activities that are knocking about.

"I couldn't stand this office job--all I was doing all day was sitting in a chair putting on loads of weight. I stuck it for about six months, then packed it in.

"After that I went to live in London. Joe, my older brother, had been down there about a year doing music so I went down and stayed with him."

I think Paul comes off as cocky when he describes himself growing up. Here's bit from the Roots feature in Night and Day magazine from 2001:

"I was born in Liverpool in 1959. Our house was part of an old Edwardian enclave that had seen better days. That said, the whole of the city was the same. I'm not given to nostalgia but I have been back to that house once or twice and the experience did affect me. My father worked in a metal factory and on his death he said to me: 'Never do shift work.' He hated doing it because during every other week he wouldn't see his children.

"Mine was a loud but happy childhood. I think the house you live in as an adult tends to resemble the one you grew up in, as my house in Bristol definitely does. It is always filled with people, just as ours was when we were little.

"My three brothers and I shared a bedroom in which there were two sets of bunk beds. Joe is huge, so all he had to do was lie down to watch television and that was it--the rest of us were squashed around him. I looked up to him (it was hard not to, given that he is 6ft) because he seemed so much older than me, even though there were only two years between us, and because he shielded me from so much.

"We were all altar boys or members of the choir in the local Roman Catholic church, and we attended Roman Catholic schools. My parents used to say to us: 'We'll push you until you're 16 and then let you follow your own instincts.' That was their method, and I thought it exemplary. Of course, there were times when we, as teenagers, drove them mad, but their attitude made us what we are. My sister worked hard and became an academic without any prompting from them.

"I look at my brothers and see a doggedness in our family that is quite unique. Our optimism helped us all make a living. My parents taught us to be confident, develop a thick skin and maintain a sense of humour. With that combination you can more than get by.

"There wasn't any conflict at home that spurred me on. Things kept going well and kept happening for me. Sometimes you just can't escape your good luck and my brothers would all agree with that. We had a little table in our hallway that was weighed down with all our sporting trophies.

"I never struggled. I was talented, sporty and popular; all the things I now want my children to be. School can be a trial and, though I had a great time there, I haven't forgotten the children who were often terrified and those who were beaten up. I used to copy Joe--he was big and had gravitas--even when I was in my mid-teens and still looked about 12.

"Liverpool was packed with people in the Sixties. We could see the river from our bedroom and I remember enormous ships with inspiring names such as The Empress of China, being moored in the docks. My dad would often take us to look at them and I decided then that I wanted to be a sailor. I would gaze at the outstretched sea and wonder about the world that lay out there.

"It was a period of great prosperity. The Beatles were everywhere and there was a mounting sense of excitement. It's hard to believe now that Liverpool was like that. I thought I was growing up in the best town in the world--and I was.

"I had always loved acting in school plays. I was a pretty little boy and I looked younger than I was, so I frequently played girls. In those days we often performed Tom Stoppard plays. I was relieved when we did The Real Inspector Hound because I played a boy for the first time. Then my drama teacher asked me to read Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and tell him what I thought. I remember striding up to him and saying: 'There is no way I am kissing one of my friends.' I assumed I would be asked to play Cleopatra.

"There was a convent school across the road, and though we weren't allowed to fraternise with the girls, they made an exception in this case and asked one to play Cleopatra. I remember thinking, 'I like this acting thing'. It was great fun putting on Tantastic fake tan, which was the colour of gravy powder.

"I usually had a close friend at school. I could be gregarious when pushed but tended to feel more at ease with one good friend, as it was so crowded at home. My friend Brian and I would visit nearby Victorian districts together and salvage a few souvenirs--stair rods, handles and door knobs--from houses that were going to be pulled down. You could get whole sets of ceramic bathroom tiles. The one day we were arrested as we tried to get a handle from the door of a derelict shop. Unbeknown to us, the building backed on to a police station.

"In court, my father behaved impeccably, but he was furious with me all the way there and all the way back. He had always told me and my brothers: 'Whatever you do, boys, don't bring the police to the door. Do not bring them home.' Five years ago I was pulled over for drink driving and, as I failed the breathalyser, the officers had to take me to the police station to test me again. They asked me whether I had a previous conviction to which I replied no, and then they pulled out this theft charge from all those years ago. It was meant to be a conditional discharge!"

I guess from what I've read, I've never thought Paul was whitewashing his background. And at Gally during an interview, he kept saying he was a parvenu, thus admitting that he had risen in economic and social status as an adult.

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