24 May 2005
Q: Ian, you are one of the greatest actors in hollywood history and in my (and many other people's) opinion I cannot believe you have lowered yourself by appearing in British prime-time TV trash Coronation Street. Surely after LOTR you are not that desperate for cash?? You are better than ITV's barrel scrapings. Just one question.... WHY??????
A: It's not too late to ask you to sample Coronation Street and the wonderful character I was lucky enough to be offered. Incidentally when I saw Derek Jacobi's recent triumph in Schiller's Don Carlos he berated me in his dressing-room for having got to The Street before he did. He said, "Think we could have gone there together and opened a hairdresser's or something."
WHY WASTE IT?
From: Richard Newman
Q: Oh Sir Ian !!!!!!! So many parts not played and so much talent and inspiration to be given to a new generation by your skills. So why waste it on Widow (T)Wankey and now some awful cameo in Corrie? Please at least assure this actor and long-term fan that we'll see a little more of your classical side once these parts are finished. Interpreters of Chekov and Wille S don't come any beter than you, Ian. That's my reason for this e-mail to our finest classical actor. Keep on, keep mesmerising us and keep well.
A: Thanks for the compliments amidst the complaining! I am about to record Wordsworth's The Prelude in Dove Cottage where he wrote in the Lake District 200 years ago. So I'm not yet out of touch with the classics. And you may have heard that a King Lear is on course for 2007, by when perhaps I will have got this populist bee out of my bonnet.
IT'S ALL DRAMA
Q: How wonderful that a 'great shakespearean actor' should confuse the hell out of his critics and his contemporaries by completely ignoring the categorisation of his profession! Corrie, panto, Shakespeare, it's all drama to me. The pompous daily quoters of Shakespeare who regard Sir Ian's involvement with panto and soap with bafflement, sadly fail to see the point of the very existence and potential of the dramatic life that they claim to lead or follow with such devotion. A dramatic life SHOULD cross the boundaries of the popular and the literary and NOT always be about 'the classics'. It's great that he's doing a regular pick and mix of all types of drama. I'm surprised he didn't turn up in the Cirque Du Soleil - or is that next year?!
A: I've never drawn the artificial distinctions between acting in one medium rather than another, though there lingers amongst some actors of my generation a distaste for television, just as our seniors used to revile working in cinema rather than on stage. Equally I admire actors who persevere over the years in the continuing stories of soap operas, at least those who act well in them! Thirty years back, Laurence Olivier felt the same, and put pressure on his brother-in-law who was then a senior executive at Granada Television to get him written into Coronation Street. Nothing happened, which makes my own arrival in Weatherfield all the sweeter.
As for Cirque du Soleil, in 2000 I narrated their film Journey of Man which is still shown on Imax screens.
Q: I LOVE it that you will do a guest appearance on Coronation Street. There
A: I won't spoil it for you: suffice to say that Mel Hutchwright does try a little flirtation with one of the gals you like so much. Although offscreen Antony Cotton became a good pal, his openly gay character Sean Tully doesn't even notice Mel when they are together in the Rovers Return. As for Norris -- don't be silly!
COMPARED TO FILM
Name: Matthew Smith
Q: Congratulations on your superb performance on Coronation Street. How does it compare to working on films such as Lord of the Rings? Do you have a preference?
A: Here's one major difference. My ten episodes (five hours) of Coronation Street are being shown on UK television only a month after they were recorded. It took the three films of Lord of the Rings three years to finally reach the cinema screens worldwide.
Q: I am in shock please tell me YOU DID NOT GAIN WEIGHT!? You were the fittest 65 year old man alive and I can't believe my eyes.(your tummy looks a bit bigger in corrie pics)
A: When I stopped smoking niccotine last year I made the usual compensation of eating too many highly calorific snacks. The girth expanded and you are right to identify Mel Hutchwright's tummy as my own. Two weeks ago I foresook dairy, sugar, butter and most alcohol in my diet and am re-shaping myself for a slimline Leigh Teabing in Da Vinci Code even though in the book he is described as "portly."
From: Kayley Duncan
Q: After fulfilling your dreams of being a pantomime dame and starring in Corrie, are there any other things you want to do?
A: Professionally there are a few ambitions: to sing and dance in a musical, even though I managed both after Widow Twankey's fashion in the pantomime Aladdin. I could retire happy if I ever wrote a stage play and saw it produced.