Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Roger Lloyd Pack, actor

‘I started my acting at Bedales’


Roger Lloyd Pack, 65, played Trigger in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ and Owen in ‘The Vicar of Dibley’. He appears as Barty Crouch in ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’. Other parts have included Kafka and Freud. He co-stars in the Saturday evening BBC1 sitcom ‘The Old Guys’.

Nursery school was in my house in South Kensington. We didn’t have any money, so just after the war my mum set up this little kindergarten, run by Miss McGowan, for me and the children of my mum’s friends.

When I was five, this agreeable introduction to schooling was completely undermined by St David’s, a snobby little prep school run by a sadistic couple designed to get you through the Common Entrance to public school. There were a lot of ambassadors’ children there, and sports took place in Hyde Park. I don’t remember any music, singing, acting or art, but there was caning, though I managed to avoid it. The teaching was adequate: Latin, French, the three Rs. One English teacher, Miss Evans, was inspiring, and I remember reading Blake’s “The Tyger”. I was there until I was 13.

Bedales [the co-educational Hampshire boarding school] was so different, very laid-back in academic terms: you went to classes but there was no pressure to work. I was ahead of most people when I started so, without the whip being cracked, I coasted. To my dying day I will regret that I didn’t take advantage of the wonderful facilities: art, carpentry, music, basket-weaving. I was pretty homesick when I started. Why was I being punished by being sent away?

I had done shows at home in a glove-puppet theatre and recited Shakespeare speeches while the puppets acted them out; I was always drawn to the blank verse. The acting really started at Bedales, which had a lovely little theatre, and, my father being an actor, it seemed like going into the family business. I thought: “This is magic and what I want to do.” It was primarily the pleasure of working with texts and being in the spotlight; I still love that. Rachel Carey-Field was a very good drama teacher, professional and quite tough with you; she was an inspiration.

I got 9 per cent in my geography |O-level. The teacher was not very inspiring; I blame him. I got seven |O-levels, in arts subjects. At A-level,|I did English, French and Latin, getting two Bs and a C or D. My parents would have loved me to go to university, Oxbridge particularly. No one encouraged you to go into acting, but I took my audition for Rada and went there when I was 19.

I sort of enjoyed Rada, although I was a bit lost, a bit at sea, and I didn’t know until later what I had learnt. There were some very good teachers, including the actors Peter Barkworth and Robin Ray. Madame Fedro taught Restoration moves – “Open ze groin!” – that I can do to this day, though I have never been in a Restoration comedy. There was nothing at all on the academic side; it was all voice, movement, character, technique and learning how to breathe. There were a lot of classes about saying a line as you pick up a glass: how much attention you give to the line and how much to the action.

Barrie Smith, the voice coach, noticed that I was nervous and tense and recommended I be sent to Dr Barlow, a leading teacher of the Alexander Technique, which nobody had heard of in those days, and it gave me a freedom and awareness of my body which have stood me in good stead ever since.

I had quite a lot of fun with the students and have since worked with, and am still in touch with, a few of them – Richard Wilson, Ken Cranham and Diane Fletcher. There are very few of us still acting. People have left the profession – or died.

I was never a juvenile lead or a romantic hero, and I didn’t come into my own as an actor until I was 40. I was not easy to cast, but also I have never been typecast. This was an advantage in the long run, because it opens a big range of parts for me, from Trigger to Freud. I have a rubbery face.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada