All Creatures Great and Small star Samuel West on problem of having famous parents


All Creatures Great and Small star Samuel West joined the Welcome to Yorkshire, Talkshire podcast with Caroline Nickle to discuss his life as an actor and the hit Channel 5 series. Samuel spoke about his childhood and how he felt having famous parents Timothy West and Prunella Scales, revealing how sometimes it was an “issue”. He also spoke about how he got into acting and the job he would have liked to have done if he wasn’t a successful actor.

Samuel said about his childhood: “The problem with childhoods is that you only get one of them, so you never know what other peoples are quite like.

“At school, people used to say, ‘What’s it like having famous parents?’ because my mum was in Fawlty Towers when I was, well she did the first series when I was nine, she played Sybil.

“And my dad had just done Edward 7th for ITV playing the King in a 13-part television series, and this was when they were only three channels, so if you were on television in the 70s, you were basically famous.

“There wasn’t a lot of other stuff to do, and people at school often said, ‘What’s it like having famous parents?’ and I thought, ‘The trouble is I don’t really know what it’s like not to have the parents I’ve got.

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“I mean they were very nice to people when they said, ‘Can we have your autograph please?’ generally fulfilled those requests kindly and promptly,” he explained.

Samuel continued: “There were times when I wished I’d seen a bit more of them when I was young, they were quite often on tour, my dad did a lot of classical touring with a company called Prospect.

“Which took him not only around the UK but all around the world, so I suppose a lot of the time it wasn’t a very ordinary upbringing.

“I mean when we went on holiday it was because my dad was doing a play somewhere, so I visited America, Egypt and Australia and followed Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet around Europe as a teenager.

“My dad was playing Claudius, so you know they were nice, they weren’t particularly posh or strange, I got a bit blasé about wandering around backstage, which I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

“Backstage should always be somewhere special, and I got the magic back when I became a professional,” he admitted.

When speaking about how he became an actor, Samuel revealed he never intended to pursue an acting career.

“I don’t think I ever really have decided, I still want to be a train driver, it might be quite difficult to do that now, getting a bit late now I’m 55.

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“I would love to play the part of a train driver, I have never been offered one.”

Samuel also touched on his mother’s health as she ended her 67-year acting career in early 2020 following her 2014 diagnosis of dementia.

My mum, as you may know, has got dementia, and I mean, she was always quite forgetful about parts she played.

“I remember quoting bits of Sybil to her, and she would laugh and say, ‘That’s funny who said that?’ And I say, ‘You did!’

“Verbatim recall of a character’s speeches, I suppose is the holy grail for any actor, I never achieved it, but she certainly has.

“That’s quite a thing, I think if you are part of something that has that longevity and still plays so well!”

Prunella was best known for her role as Sybil on the iconic comedy show Fawlty Towers, where she made a household name for herself.

Prunella and her husband Timothy were forced to quit their Channel 4 TV show, Great Canal Journeys, due to her ailing health in January 2020.

All Creatures Great and Small is available to watch on My5. 



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