Sunday, 4 September 2016

Carry On Blogging Interview: Ben Peyton

Earlier last month I caught up with the actor and all round lovely man Ben Peyton to find out more about his acting career and his love of two great British film franchises: James Bond and Carry On...


First of all, it would be great to hear what made you want to become an actor?
I was originally aiming to become a PE teacher. I went to a very sporty school (Millfield) and was gunning for Loughborough University. Sadly, my grades weren't up to scratch (to be honest I was more interested in playing the fool and trying to make the girls laugh!) so PE wasn't an option. My drama teacher suggested I tried to audition for some drama schools. I made several phone calls only to be told that most of them had closed their entrance auctions for the year, but one was still open and had a space for me to audition. That was the Guildford School Of Acting. They accepted me and I had a fantastic three years there. 

What was your first acting job and what are your memories of that experience?
My first professional acting job was a corporate film for the Army. It was called Substance Misuse and I played the clean-cut squaddie trying to talk my best mate out of taking drugs when we were on leave. He takes them, we get randomly drug tested and he gets booted out. It was a lot of fun as I got to hold a bloody big gun and look menacing. Well, I had a big gun at least. It was a really nice introduction to acting as there weren't a lot of lines to learn, but lots of camera time. Also, it paid quite well and that wasn't something I was used to!


As an actor do you prefer working in film, television or theatre? And why?
I much preferred theatre as the thrill of performing live is an incredible rush. With TV and film there's an awful lot of hanging around and you usually get more than one chance to get it right. With theatre you have to think on your feet if something goes wrong and you can adapt your performance according to audience reaction. 

What's been your favourite acting role so far and why?
Two roles spring to mind. Horst in Martin Sherman's play Bent, and Stanhope in RC Sherriff's play Journey's End. Two hugely demanding roles and characters any actor would be honoured to play. The emotions involved in both are incredibly draining and the stories are both horrific, witty and inspiring. I encourage you to seek out these plays if you don't know them.


I remember you rather fondly from your time working on The Bill. What are your memories of working on that show?
The Bill was life changing in many ways. I was earning good money, was able to secure a mortgage to buy my first property, I met my wife there and I was working regularly at a job I loved. Every day was different as I think we filmed four episodes a month and you'd be working with different directors, cast and crew all the time. I look back on my opening episodes and cringe. I was not good. I hadn't had much television experience and that was written all over my face. By the time I left I think I'd developed into a fairly competent TV actor. Some might disagree with that last statement! ?

You are obviously a bit of a Carry On fan. Why do think the series is still so popular today?
I think Carry On Films are still popular today because their charm and humour, some of it, are timeless. They're light, not too long and a smile all the way through. They make me think the world isn't such a bad place when I watch them. I want to join in with them and have fun with them. Especially when Valerie Leon is on screen!


If you had been around in their heyday, would you have accepted a role in a Carry On and if so, which film?
I would've loved to have been in a Carry On film. I think it was Roger Moore that said, "as an actor you should say yes to every job" or similar. Taking them at face value they just looked like they were such fun to be involved with. However, when you scratch the surface and see how desperately sad and depressed some of the cast were then perhaps it might not have been that much fun after all. I think I would've liked to have been in Don't Lose Your Head. The production values are quite nifty and I would've loved to have dressed up in all that fancy period costume. 

I see from your Twitter account that you are also a big fan of the James Bond films. What's your favourite in the series and why?
James Bond is a MASSIVE part of my life. My first real Bond memory was watching Goldeneye as an 18 year old at the cinema. I left wanting to be James Bond. And Pierce Brosnan. That guy just oozes charm, sex appeal and suaveness. From then, I devoured the books, the films and any literature I could get my hands on. I have loads of life-size standees advertising the DVDs and cinema releases that I collect and stacks of other memorabilia. Daniel Craig has taken 007 to another level. He is just superb. Skyfall is my favourite Bond film as it ticks all the boxes for me. It borrows from many of its predecessors and combines them to make an "ultimate" Bond film.

What are your thoughts on who should be next to play Bond?
I'd like to see Chris Hemsworth get the part. If you've seen Rush you would have heard that he can do the accent. He also looks the part and is a terrific actor. I'm not too fussed about his nationality. A good enough actor is all I'm interested in. Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender and Jamie Dornan are definitely in the running. I'm not convinced by Aiden Turner at all. And people really need to stop talking about Idris Elba too. He's a brilliant actor, but far too old.

You shared your wedding video with me on Twitter due to its Carry On theme - what's the story behind that unusual wedding music and how was it received on your big day?
I'm a huge fan of movie music. I must have about 700 pieces from films I've watched over the years. I was searching iTunes for Carry On music when Eric Rogers' take on the Wedding March popped up. I bought it and added it to my ever increasing playlist. It was only when my wife and I were trying to agree on hymns and incidental music that I thought of it. We'd already agreed that my wife would walk down the aisle to PM's Love Theme (Love Actually) by Craig Armstrong, the theme to Life Is Beautiful by Nicola Piovani would play during the signing of the register so we wanted another film piece to close the ceremony. Eric's music was the perfect match. We had a very accommodating Reverend and he was only to happy to let us use it. In his eulogy he even said that he thought our wedding would be "a right carry on". Lovely man. It sounded terrific and I think a lot of people knew where we had found it. It struck just the right balance of respect and fun. Exactly what we wanted. 

Who is your favourite Carry On actor and why?
Bernard Bresslaw is my favourite Carry On actor. Where a lot of the regulars repeat their roles in many of the films, Bernard was usually extremely different. His versatility shone through and he was rarely the same and played each part with such accomplished timing, charm and ease that it's easy to overlook his contribution to the franchise. I just love him in Camping. Such a bumbling dork. Hard to think it's the same actor that was Gripper Burke in Loving. I also have a soft spot for Charles Hawtrey. My dad told me that when I was about 4 or 5 I would run around shouting, "Chi-els, Chi-els is on tele", when he was on.

What's your all-time favourite Carry On film?
My favourite Carry On film is...damn. Too hard. Either Girls, Henry, Don't Lose Your Head or Camping. Alright, it's Camping. I simply love everything about that film. Most of the regulars are in it, and it has a terrific script that is delivered to perfection by that talented gang.


And finally, what's up next for you?
I stopped acting in 2007 as I simply wasn't working enough. It was a massive weight off my shoulders when I called it a day. I might go back to it one day. Maybe. Perhaps. We'll see. 
Right now I'm a full time dad to my two children and an attentive and caring husband to my amazing wife. She'll read all this back so I have to say that. 

Thanks again to Ben for taking the time to answer my questions, it was a pleasure to do. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenPeyton007

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also on Facebook

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