inspired you to become an actor, and where did you gain your earliest
I was inspired by old films like
Ivanhoe, Robin Hood, and war films , also Laurel and Hardy, Danny Kaye. I started
acting in primary school and I was
hooked. My first professional role was
in a play called Lies for the BBC aged 15.
from being an actor, you’re also an accomplished singer with a couple of albums
to your credit as well. How did
you get started with that? What styles and genres do you like to work
Singing and music was also a big part
of my childhood and I’ve managed to combine that along with my acting. I'm a
big fan of Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Tony Bennett, and I listened to a lot of Soul
music and Funk. Steely Dan however are my favourite band. Soul and Swing are
the genres I work in
of the roles you’re best known for is playing Barry Scouser from Harry Enfield
& Chums back in the 1990s. As a fan
of the series myself, I’m curious about what memories do you have of working
the show and the sketches you did? Any
interesting anecdotes you can share?
Harry Enfield's Scousers was great fun
to do especially when the Scousers go to D’at Lundon! My favourite sketch,
we filmed a part of it at
Brands Hatch and met Damon Hill. who was then World Champion. We also got to go
around the circuit in a black cab, I bet there aren't many who have done that.
the years, you’ve appeared in various British soap operas from one off and
recurring roles to being a regular player in Brookside and Holby City. Given
the commitment to the roles, how
different is it working on a week-to-week serial to other roles with a finite
Working on a continual drama is a hard
slog sometimes, long hours etc it can feel like you’re on a treadmill. In my
experience doing one off dramas the pace is often slower giving the actor
longer to prepare which helps with performance. If you can work on a soap with
its hectic schedules you can do anything.
toured extensively with Stage Shows such as Priscilla:
Queen of the Desert and more recently, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5. How does this
compare to your work on screen and as a voiceover?
Theatre is where I started and it’s the
most enjoyable for me personally, you can’t beat a live audience. I have been
very lucky to have combined a stage career along with my TV work.
Angelis and Michael Brandon stood down from their roles as the Thomas
Storytellers in 2012, what attracted you to the role?
Thomas is such an iconic character so
to be asked to audition was very exciting. So when I was offered the role I was
elated. As the Storyteller, I have a big
responsibility to get it right and I’m very proud to be a part of a great team.
role of Thomas’ storyteller has been held by some really accomplished talents
down the years – with Ringo Starr, Alec Baldwin and Pierce Brosnan being among
the A-list stars to take up the mantle.
What were your thoughts on taking on such an iconic role?
Following in the footsteps of some big
names was amazing, I never thought I would land the role of the Storyteller.
you tell us about the audition process to win the role of Thomas’s storyteller?
The audition process was a long one. First,
I had to record an episode along with several other actors and as the months
passed the we got whittled down to three actors. then I recorded more episodes
which were sent to test audiences in America and the UK and fortunately for me
my voice came out as the most suited, and I was offered the job.
familiar were you with the series before you joined the voice cast?
I think most people have come across
Thomas at some point in their lives, so yes I was aware of him. My two Grandsons
were Thomas fans when they
were younger, which is great.
the first person since Ringo Starr to be the series’ main storyteller for all
English speaking territories. How do you
feel about reaching such a wide audience?
As I said earlier, Thomas is so iconic
and has a global following, so it gives me a buzz to know I am reading to
millions of Thomas fans around the world.
you describe what a typical day is like recording your lines for an episode in
the studio? Do you use a video of the
episode as a means to cue your lines and set the mood and tone for your
A normal day might start at 9am until
say 2pm and I may record 3 or 4 episodes sometimes to picture and sometimes
without. I much prefer recording to
picture but this isn't always possible as they may still be editing and so on.
format of the series has changed several times throughout its lifetime on
screen, from being the domain of a single storyteller to a full voice
cast. Would you have liked to have been
the sole voice for the series as your predecessors have been, or are you more
comfortable just telling the story?
I am happy being the Storyteller and
giving the engines their own voice adds colour, in my opinion.
you like to provide a character voice for the series, and have you been asked
to do so yet?
I would like to play one of the characters...
maybe a new engine.
the existing cast, are there any characters you would have liked to have
provided a voice for?
The voice artists all do a great job
with their respective engines. It’s a
great cast to be part of.
you have any particular favourite stories or characters from the series?
I enjoy doing the Christmas episodes
and the full length feature films are great fun and have more of an epic feel
to them. Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure
is a personal favourite. As for
favourite characters, I’d have to say Cranky the Crane. I think we can
all relate to how he feels
that Michael Angelis had been in the role for twenty years before you, and
Ringo Starr had set the style in the beginning – were you encouraged to put your
own spin on the storytelling of the series or to emulate your predecessors?
I tried to keep an essence of previous
Storytellers, while adding my own interpretation. as long as HIT and the fans
are happy that's all you can ask for.
role of Thomas’s Storyteller is one that’s got a strong association with
Liverpool – largely thanks to Ringo Starr and Michael Angelis. What’s
your thoughts on Thomas’s association with your home city?
Obviously being a Scouser helped me
land the part, I am fiercely proud of my city and it’s connection to something
as iconic as Thomas. Maybe I could voice
a Scouse engine called Ringo? Now that
would be fun!
what I can gather from your CV, Thomas & Friends is your first role in a
children’s TV Series, how does it differ to working on other shows you’ve done?
I have worked on a few children's
series in the past. Wilderness Edge, The Lodge, but nothing like Thomas.
a real enthusiasm in your storytelling style, which really adds to the whole
experience, and from interviews you’ve done, it’s clear you’re enjoying being
part of Team Thomas – what have been the biggest highlights for you?
It is a pleasure to record the show and
the atmosphere in the studio is great. I
genuinely care about how my voice comes across, my enthusiasm is real and I’m so
pleased if that comes across in the show. My biggest highlight was seeing my
screen for the first time. Told By Mark
love hearing stories from Behind the Scenes – do you have any funny or special
moments to recall or share from your time in the recording studio with your
fellow cast members?
Unfortunately I don't get to see other
cast members very often, so I don’t have any tales to tell.
would you say is the special appeal of Thomas & Friends that keeps on
bringing you back to the role year after year?
Thomas has an old world charm. Who
doesn't love steam engines? there isn't another series like it. and hopefully
he'll be around for 70 more years.
you prefer voice acting or feel more comfortable appearing in front of a camera
or on stage?
Theatre is probably my favourite as I
said earlier, but I enjoy everything I’m fortunate to be offered.
you say that your involvement with Thomas and Friends has had a positive impact
upon your career as an actor?
Whenever I mention Thomas, people
smile. So I hope Thomas has had a
very early on in your work with Thomas, you have been very friendly and
welcoming with the fans, and we’ve always enjoyed a great dialogue with you –
do you feel it’s helped with your work on the series?
It's always nice to connect with your
audience as without them you wouldn't have a job, so I always say hello if I
to his departure, Michael Angelis was the storyteller for a series of Thomas
& Friends audiobooks, narrating the Rev. Awdry’s Railway Series stories –
is this something you’ve been approached about yet? If not, would you
be open to it?
A lot of my work on Thomas includes the
You Tube Channel and Apps, games etc so if I was asked to do books I would be
I’ve mentioned previously, you’re a talented singer. Have you ever
been approached by the
Producers to collaborate with the series’ musical composers on a Thomas song
for the series or a special?
There was talk of me singing on one of
the songs but we haven't discussed it further. Again if I’m asked I’d love to.
you have any other projects in the pipeline at this point in time that you can
tell us about?
Maybe later this year. I have been cast as Severus, Head of the 20th
Roman Legion in Victrix The Valiant, along with Brian Blessed, so watch this
you have a favourite role from your career, be it TV, radio or stage?
My favourite role would have to be
between Colonel Slade in feature film Allies or J R Hart in 9 To 5 the Musical.
you give any advice to anyone who may be interested in following in your
footsteps as a voice actor?
Voiceover work is very hard to break
into, you need a good voice reel and a good agent.
do you have anything you’d like to say to the fans of the series who enjoy your
I would just like to say a massive
thank you to the many Thomas fans for all of your kind comments and support
since taking over as the Storyteller. I
hope you continue to enjoy the series!