Neil Dudgeon Fan • Your Only Source For Actor Neil Dudgeon
Welcome to Neil Dudgeon Fan, the only internet resource for British actor Neil Dudgeon, star of Midsomer Murders, Life of Riley, Messiah, and Common as Muck. I aim to provide you with the latest news, projects and images so please check back daily for updates and many thanks for visiting.


Fans Q&A

Neil has very kindly agreed to answer the second batch of questions from fans and visitors to the website. The first set of questions are further down the page.

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April 2014

1) What’s it like working with Sykes the dog on Midsomer Murders?
Jenna Ackerman

It’s always great whenever Sykes is on set. He has such a lovely calm temperament and his trainer Gill is brilliant with him.

He can be a bit unpredictable sometimes but they say the best actors can be and that’s half the fun. You have to stay on your toes and if he does something unexpected, I try to use it and go with it because it might lead to something really good.

Sykes will do almost anything for a sausage. As will I.

2) Will you ever work in the theatre again and if so is there a part that you would like to play? Judy Pace

I assume I will get back to the theatre at some point though it’s a bit tricky whilst Midsomer is going on. I’m a bit exhausted by the end of filming a series of Midsomer and theatre is also pretty hard work, so trying to fit in a break after filming then doing a theatre run before going back to do the next series is a bit of a tight squeeze.

But if the right thing came along, I would love to do it. I’ve never really had a list of parts I’ve wanted to do. I have just done “Uncle Vanya” for BBC radio which was great and I’d love to have a go at some Chekhov in the theatre. Or Ibsen. Or Pinter. Arthur Miller. There’s so much great writing to choose from.

3) Are you regularly recognised when you’re out and about now since taking over the lead role of John Barnaby? Sandra Macht

I do get recognised more since joining Midsomer Murders, but not lots really. I don’t think I look very much like John Barnaby when I’m just being me walking to the shops or something. I mean I don’t dress like him; we do continue to share a certain facial similarity unless I grow a big moustache or something or wear big pair of glasses and a false nose which I don’t do very often.

And I must say whenever people do approach me to say hello, they are always very smiley and polite and usually just want to say they like the show and ask where Sykes is. And it is mostly Sykes they want to talk about.

4) How did it feel to take over from John Nettles in Midsomer Murders?Chrisii

Well, the first read through and the first few days filming and waiting for the first episode to go out were all a bit like your first day at a new school. You are hoping everyone will think you are doing ok and not think that a terrible mistake has been made. If you are lucky enough to work a bit as an actor, you start new jobs fairly regularly, so you do get used to it a bit.

And, of course, more than anything, I felt it was a huge honour to be asked to take over from John Nettles and be handed a role in such a great and successful show. Obviously, with that comes a sense of responsibility but, as my postman said to me at the time, ” It’s the same in any job, Neil; you can only do your best.” Wise words, Tony.

5) Do you have any pets? Sarah Jayne

I have been more of a cat person in my life and had a cat when I was a boy. I got another cat when I was about 30 with whom I shared home and hearth for many happy years until he died at a good age a few years ago.

Somewhat against my better judgement, last year I gave in to my children’s pleadings for a pet so now we share the house with a lovely pair of guinea pigs and I must say they are charming and make very sweet noises.I also feel a growing urge to get a dog. I think it’s an age thing.

6) Are you a religious person? Nick Wesley

I am not a religious person. I have a vague recollection of being ejected from Sunday School at a young age. I can’t remember what for, but I think the Church lost me after that.

7) What is your favourite time of year? Emily Hodgson

What a great question. I am writing this in April and I was just thinking the other day how wonderful the spring is.

The worst time, I think, is when the clocks have just gone back and the evenings are going to get darker and darker for months and the cold weather and the dark mornings to look forward to.

So, the best time is when the clocks have just gone forward and you can look forward to the evenings getting longer and the flowers coming out and the whole spring and summer stretching out before you.

Oh, I just thought; I suppose I should say Midsummer.

8) If you were not an actor what would you be? Mona Shah

I think I would be in an allied trade; a director maybe or a producer. I’d love to have been a writer, though it’s a bit of a lonely profession, I think.

Or maybe a journalist; then you can write but you get out more. Or maybe a lawyer because then you write, you get out and see people and still get to dress up and perform.

9) What is a typical weekend for you when you are not working? Rachel Flagg

Like most Dads the weekend is usually all about taking the kids places and picking them up again. I like to go out for lunch or see friends.

We have a great Farmer’s Market near us that we often go to on a Sunday. I also go to the football when I can and the result has a big say in whether I have a good weekend or not.

10) How will you feel if your children take up acting? Is it something you would encourage them to do or discourage? Joe Brady

I would want them to do whatever they want to do. It’s great for a young person to have something they really want to do, wherever it leads. It’s great to have a passion for something.

Acting can be hard but rewarding if you are successful at it and and hard and unrewarding if you’re not. It is really hard to make a living at it and much harder now than when I started, I think.

But somebody’s going to do it and if you want to try something and don’t, it’s not great to spend the rest of your life looking back and thinking, ” I wonder what would have happened.”

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March 2012

1) Is there any advice you could offer to those who might be interested in pursuing a career similar to yours? MJ

I should think the best way to pursue a career in acting is to try and do it as much as you can at school or with local drama groups. The drama school is probably the best route into the business I should think, not just for the training, but also because it gets you into the know of who to contact about things and also people will see you, see what you can do.

Just getting seen for jobs is pretty tough, I think which is where an agent can really help, so getting a good agent is a great help too.

2) I was very disappointed when a totally different cast was chosen for Messiah 5. I wondered why the cast was changed just for that last episode? Sarah Thomas

The reason for the cast change for Messiah 5 was simply that after doing 4 Messiah’s, several series of The Vice and then Rebus, Ken Stott had had enough of playing tortured policeman and wanted a break from it.

So then he said he didn’t want to do number 5, I think producers thought they would be better off getting rid of my character as well and starting completely afresh. I saw Messiah 5 and I must say, I thought it was really good and had some great actors in it.

3) Which artist inspires you most? Personally, Jack Vettriano & Georgia O’Keeffe, would be high on my list. Donna Coleman

Blimey, where to start? I do love a good gallery and there are so many great artists to admire and enjoy. Among my favourites in no particular order would be Botticelli, Picasso, Matisse, Braque and more modern ones like David Smith, Cy Twombly.

I like modern art because it keeps questioning what art is and says it’s not what you are looking at necessarily, but how you look at it, Beauty, as they say is in the eye of the beholder.

4) Describe yourself in 3 words? Jennifer Bliss

Ooh, Jen, that’s hard. Er… I’ll have to come back to this…I got to the end came back to this with these; honest, reserved, a trier. Have you tried this in yourself? Three words? It’s really hard.

5) Do you have any ambitions that you are yet to achieve? Abi Carter

I’ve never really had any career ambitions beyond wanting to work on good scripts, interesting material with an interesting part to explore and with talented people. Obviously, you can’t expect to achieve this every time you go to work but, I think I’ve mostly been pretty lucky so far.

I would like to do more theatre at some time in the future as well, but no particular part, just good scripts and good people; that’s what it’s all about.

6) Does your personality have anything in common with John Barnaby in Midsomer? John Playle

In some ways I would like to think John Barnaby and I have some things in common. He’s obviously a pretty bloke I think, which is one of the pleasures of playing him. We probably share quite a dry sense of humour, I suppose. Also, he’s quite circumspect; he doesn’t rush into making judgments about people or situations.

He observes, considers and thinks before he come to any conclusions about things, which I feel I do in a small way too. Maybe that’s just the reserved, cautious, Yorkshire part of me.

7) Of the countries you have visited which is your favourite and of the rest of the world where would you most like to visit? Ashley Adams

Ooh, I do love to go and see other places. Among my favourites I would have to sat Venice just for being like fantasy city, incredibly beautiful and unbelievable that anyone would ever think it was a good idea to build a fabulous city in a lagoon and like all of Italy the food, wine and art are great.

I love the Caribbean too, especially Barbados. I’ve never been to Australia and New Zealand which I would love to visit.

8) What makes you laugh and what makes you cringe? Zoe Brown

Jason Hughes makes me laugh a lot, he’s a funny man, which is obviously
a great help during the long days and months of filming, as for what makes me cringe, I would have to say high on the list is actors talking about themselves and their acting as I am doing now; it’s always a bit cringe-making if you see yourself in a paper or magazine so I try to avoid seeing myself or reading about myself.

9) What has been your favourite part (or character) to play and why is it your favourite? Becky McGee

I’ve been lucky; I’ve played some great characters. You spend a lot of time with a character in a TV series or a theatre piece so you feel very sympathetic and protective towards them.

Joey in a play called ‘Road’ by Jim Cartwright; Ian in a play called ‘Blasted’ by Sara Kane (Ian was an awful man but part of the fun of acting is understanding awful people from the inside, from their own point of view.)

On TV Ken in ‘Common as Muck’; the man wrongly accused in ‘The Street’ and obviously now John Barnaby in Midsomer Murders because he’s so driven to find answers and he’s clever and he’s genuinely interested in people.

10) Are there any actors/actresses that you particularly admire or would want to work with? Sam Coles

There are so many actors I really admire and with whom I would love to work. My favourites actors are the ones I grew up watching old movies, I suppose. People like Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Edward G Robinson.

11) Some years ago I saw the series Sorted and in the last(?) episode “Harry” is confronting “Kathy” (in a garden) with her affair with “Charlie”. In the scene “Harry” is really, really mad, furious, angry! It was brilliant acting. I really want to know, how you prepared for that “Harry” scene; how to put yourself up and find that anger from deep inside – and on command? (was he thinking of an old, stupid schoolteacher or?) It was very touching to watch – it seemed so real, that I almost got scared of so much yelling.
Lone R Pedersen

Preparing for a big emotional scene like the one in ‘Sorted’ the most obvious and important thing is to learn your lines as thoroughly as you can, because you don’t want to be in the flow of the emotions and have to stop because you can’t remember what to say next.

Of course, it happens, but it can be very frustrating. As with any scene, the most important thing is the script and the better the script the less you have to do for it to work. Once you’ve read and, hopefully.

Understood all about the scene and learnt it as well as you can, then you get on set, rehearse it a couple of times for camera and then just go for it as you’d imagined the scene being when you first read it. I don’t think understanding or even tapping into the emotions is that difficult; we all do it when we read or watch something otherwise it wouldn’t make any sense to us.

12) What kind of music do you listen to? do you have a favourite singer/band? Jill Summers

I didn’t listen to much music for years until I got an ipod about three years ago and as that has filled up I listen to music a lot more now and all different kinds. I’m not that big on Classical music; I just don’t know enough about it really.

Recently I’ve seen some really great music programmes on the television about Jazz and American Blues and Folk so I went off and got myself loads of that to listen to which has a really old style authentic sound not like something that’s been through a marketing department or focus group before it gets to me.

13) When you were growing up, who or what was on your bedroom wall? Steve Matheson

When I was a boy my bedroom wall was completely covered with pictures of footballers. I used to get ‘Shoot’ every Saturday, I think it was, get the pictures out and stick them on my wall. I would put players from any team up there. I was a bit indiscriminate.

14) I’ve encountered your work fairly recently and have become quite a fan. When I first learned you were the replacement for the Tom Barnaby character I had no idea who you were, but I’d enjoyed your work in “The Sword of Guillaume” and looked forward to the new series, which I have frankly enjoyed. On a whim I’ve been tracking some of the discussion threads, which is a study in human nature all by itself.

My question is, in such a public occupation, how do you keep yourself grounded when you have to deal with public criticism, especially the cranky kind that relies on personal sniping? Gail Mageean

I don’t read anything about myself or very much about any shows I’m involved in. It just doesn’t interest me that much. It doesn’t feel as though it has much to do with me. I do the best I can with what I have to work with and if people like it that’s really great but you can’t expect everyone to love to like everything you do.

As for being grounded, to the people I know I’m not someone off the telly who has done a good or bad performance or is a bit well-known, I’m just their friend, husband, Dad or whatever. Acting is just a job after all.

15) My favourite character of yours was Moggie in Piece of Cake as I thought his attitude was the correct approach to the war. Who gave you your direction on how to play the character or were you left to your own devices to make him up? Lori Randolph

How you interpret and play a character is usually broadly up to the actor. If you meet a director in an audition, you will both talk about how you see the character, they might get you to read a couple of scenes so they can get an idea of how you might do it and if they like what you do and agree with it they might offer you the job.

Having got the job, there’s little or no rehearsal, so you have to turn up with your own ideas for how you are going to do it. Hopefully, the director still likes what you are doing, though there will be ideas and suggestions thrown in about particular lines or emotional moments, for instance. As ever, it’s mostly about a script and if it’s a good script most of the answers about how to play a character are there.



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Status: Series 20 to start filming April 2017
 

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