‘When I was 16’, says Gary Beadle ‘My brother Rikki told me that I was an actor and that’s all I’ve ever been’. Not that 16 was the beginning for the venerable Beadle who’s stage and screen credits have made him one of the UK’s favourite actors.
Indeed Gary Beadle’s first performance was at the tender age of 8 when he performed in a stage version of Bugsy Malone, his brother Rikki Beadle-Blair’s first foray into directing. From there Beadle and his siblings, brother Rikki and sister Carleen, went to the Anna Scher Theatre School in Islington on the recommendation of Alan Parker’s secretary who had attended the youngsters’ performance at their local community centre. This led to a number of opportunities including performances at the Old Vic and for Thames Television before it was time for him to choose a career before sitting his O-Levels.
‘I remember when I was at school we were forced to choose one of the career cards from a big box. I remember looking into the box and thinking that I couldn’t find anything that was close to actor so as a compromise I chose Cinema Manager! When I got home Rikki tore the little card up and set me straight. “Gary you are an actor”. It was like a light had been switched on and I knew that was all I would ever do.’
And he has - the former EastEnders star left school and has actively pursued life as a jobbing actor constantly on the search for the new roles and characters ever since. Indeed 40 year-old Gary has never held any other position having devoted himself to growing and developing as an actor and as a person through the many different characters he has played.
It is this need to constantly change and try new things that led Gary to make the somewhat surprising (for his fans at least) decision to leave EastEnders.
‘I didn’t want to do the same thing forever. One of the main reasons that I got into acting was so that I could play several different people and live in other people’s worlds. It was also never about celebrity for me as much as attention I suppose. I like pleasing the audience. I also enjoy the ability to influence people’s thinking through performance.
Gary will next be seen in the role of Caesar Ramsay, in Familyman, a new production written by Rikki Beadle Blair which runs at Theatre Royal Stratford East in May. Caesar, a young father, is shocked to discover that his son seems to be repeating some of the ‘mistakes’ that he himself made while growing up.
‘What I like about the story is that it deals not strictly with black or white issues but rather family issues. Caesar could be any man wanting the best for his children. As a parent myself (Gary has two boys aged 17 and 6), I understand what it means to want to see your children be successful and safe. Caesar’s response to the situation with Nelson, his son, is therefore very interesting and even though the play is a comedy I think it gives the audience a lot to think about from both the perspective of parents and children. And of course “he adds” my brother is an extremely talented writer!’