Tim Piggot-Smith


Tim Pigott-Smith, starred in Educating Rita at the Trafalgar Studios One

Date of Birth?
13th May, 1846 ho ho (1946)

Place of birth?
Rugby

Did you go to training school, if so which one?
Bristol University and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

Briefly tell us how you became involved with Educating Rita
While still playing in Enron at the Coward, I was asked to do it.

Your first stage performance?
First stage appearance as a centurion nailing Christ on the cross in a church Easter pageant. First fully prof appearance Snobby Price in Major Barbara at Bristol Old Vic

Career highlight to date?
On TV - Jewel in the Crown. On stage - Entertaining Strangers (NT), and The Iceman Cometh - Almeida, Old Vic and Broadway

What roles would you most like to play?
Good ones, in good productions of good plays with good people.

What's the best advice you've ever received?
Before going onstage - Clear your throat, and check your flies.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
There are so many it's hard to choose.

What is the most annoying part about your job?
The very tiny minority of badly behaved audiences. They make it hard for you to do the play for the well-behaved majority. I don't take it personally - I KNOW the play - I just feel sorry for those audience members - (who have paid good money and turn up on time, and don't eat sweets, turn their mobiles off and don't text and talk during the performance) - who have to put up with the inconsiderate idiots who don't know how to behave.

If you had not become a performer, what might you have done instead?
Like my dad - a journalist

Favourite after-show haunts
2, Brydges Place, (a lovely little club of which I am a member) and The Wolseley.

Who are your favourite actors/actresses
My role models were the great actors of the fifties - all gone to the Big Green Room, now - Olivier, Guilgud, Richardson, Guinness. Now, I would go and see these people in anything - Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins, Ian McKellen, Jonathan Pryce, Mark Rylance. England is blessed with many, many fine actors and actresses. In America, I simply love James Earl Jones: first saw him onstage in 1968 - phenomenal.

If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would you say to them?
Richard Burbage - the first really great English actor, who played all the major Shakespearian roles for the first time. Hey Dick, I would say, what were rehearsals like in those days?

What was the last book you read, and name some of your favourite authors?
Soul of the Age (about Shakespeare) by Jonathan Bate, (full of fascinating stuff). Steinbeck, Thomas Eidson, Anthony Powell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Hardy, Graham Greene, TS Eliot, Salinger, Conan Doyle, Alan Garner. Et al.

What was the last film you saw, and name some of your favourite movies?
Winter Bones, very disappointing. Once Upon a Time in the West, Un Homme et Une Femme, Princess Bride, early Woody Allen, Casablanca, Third Man, Airplane, Four Weddings, Girl with Green Eyes. Et al.

Favourite TV programs?
The West Wing, Outnumbered, Heimat (a German series), Mastermind, University Challenge, Brideshead, Edge of Darkness. Et al.

Favourite holiday destinations?
Biarritz, Deia, Venice, New York

Do you have any hobbies?
I read and listen to music.

Do you have any superstitions?
I could be like Hamlet ('There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow.') - i.e. very superstitious - wearing certain socks for a show, the number of steps on to the stage, catching sight of a review - so I just stamp it out! Once you start, in our game, you are in trouble.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
A very sharp knife, a guitar and a wind-up radio.

What are your future plans?
I am doing something small for ITV - The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, and next autumn I do King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I aim to spend every remaining moment with my wife, son, prospective daughter-in-law, and good friends.

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