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Arsher Ali

March 2015

THE mystery surrounding Doctor Who is legendary. Cast and crew are sworn to secrecy in order to ensure storylines for future series are never leaked.
“It’s the first thing you sign; even before you sign your contract,” says Arsher Ali, of the confidentiality agreement with the makers of Britain’s long-running sci-fi series.
The Nottingham-born actor has already filmed his two episodes for the next series which is likely to hit the small screen in late summer.
“I can say it’s a two-parter and my general view of Doctor Who but no more than that,” says the 30-year-old, whose acting breakthrough came five years ago in the comedy film Four Lions.
He has since appeared in Silent Witness, Beaver Falls, The Guilty, Complicit, The Missing and, most recently, Arthur & George opposite Martin Clunes.
About Doctor Who, he says: “I am a fan of the show although it was a shame that the first Doctor for me when I was growing up was Sylvester McCoy.
“You could see that the show was dying so I didn’t really appreciate it until they brought it back with Christopher Eccleston,” says Arsher, who lives in the city centre with Emmerdale actress Roxy Shahidi. “He is up there on my favourite actors’ list so I started watching it again.
“I don’t like the sillier elements of Doctor Who; when it’s really camp and everyone is running around. That’s why I like Peter Capaldi,” he says of the current Doctor.
“The show should be dark and mysterious, and shouldn’t pull any punches in terms of being scary. When we were kids it’s what we all wanted.”
He adds: “Peter Davison was an underrated Doctor; he had a kind of vulnerability. And Tom Baker was silly but he could be serious as well. He was just mad, like The Joker.”
Doctor Who is just the latest in a string of TV series and films that Arsher has been busy filming over recent months.
At the end of last year he was in hit BBC drama The Missing opposite James Nesbitt, then in March in Arthur & George, a three-part ITV drama adapted from Julian Barnes’ acclaimed novel about the true story of The Great Wyrley Outrages.
In 1906, George Edalji, a young Anglo-Indian solicitor, was imprisoned for mutilating animals and writing obscene letters. He served three years before being released, after which he set out to clear his name in order for him to return to practising law.
Helping him in his quest was Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
“I can’t believe it’s real; it’s like someone getting done for terror charges and Russell Brand leaping to their defence,” says Arsher, who played Edalji opposite Clunes as Conan Doyle.
“You think you know him from Men Behaving Badly, that he’s a kind of oafish, comical guy but he’s not at all,” he says of his co-star.
“He’s super smart, super sophisticated, very witty and super posh. And he was so good in it.”
The three-parter pulled in up to six million viewers.
“The actual case, and the achieving of the pardon was quite an historic event. A lot of laws and regulations were changed from that first case. So it is an important landmark case in terms of law now.
“I’d read the book when I left drama school. Then the Nottingham Playhouse did a co-production of it and that landed at my door. But I thought ‘no’ because they don’t do catering,” he jokes.
The theatre’s artistic director, Giles Croft, is a neighbour and has often asked Arsher to appear in various productions there but he’s always been too busy.
“I’d love to work at the Playhouse; it’s where I saw my first theatre really.”
That was when he was at Bilborough College.
“It would be great to work with Giles. My missus has. She did The Importance of Being Earnest with Anjli Mohindra,” he adds, of the Nottingham actress who played his wife in The Missing.
After Bilborough College, Arsher went to East 15 Acting School at the University of Essex, then graduated to roles with the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
There will be two more films featuring Arsher out this year; one with This Is England actor Stephen Graham with the working title A Patch of Fog.
“It’s about stalkers and Stephen’s really good in it; very creepy. And he has a menacing persona which he plays on, just for a laugh. Some of the cast members who’d not met him before didn’t know how to take him.
“It was fun. I don’t do a lot of film because I get offered a lot of good TV stuff.”
He had complained that due to his looks, he’d been repeatedly offered roles as a terrorist.
“If you see anything that has a kind of terrorist plot at its heart, be sure it landed at my door,” he laughs.
“It’s getting better though.”
Arsher, who’ll be in another film due out this year called Remainder, based on the cult novel by Tom McCarthy, is writing a screenplay about heavy metal music in Iraq.
“I’m very excited about that, because it’s mad,” he says.
“It’s from an article I came across and I optioned it. We’re on the third draft of the script now.”
He adds: “I’ve always fancied writing. I read so many scripts, why wait around for that perfect thing to land at your door? Why not do it yourself?”
When he’s not working, Arsher’s free time is dominated by sport. His first choice of career was sports journalism and he’s sort of achieved that with regular columns in the Nottingham Post about his beloved Nottingham Forest.
“I’ll travel everywhere to watch them. And if I can’t make it I’ll ring home and get my mum or my missus to put the phone to the radio so I can listen to the commentary on Radio Nottingham.”
He played football for his school team but was “too lazy” to make a go of it.
Arsher, the son of a Raleigh welder, now retired, is also often to be seen at Trent Bridge during the cricket season.
“You can just walk around there and everyone is so friendly. You can get friendly with the players; they are always more wordly than footballers, so you have a proper conversation with them.”
He adds: “I started a cricket team when I was at Haywood School in Sherwood.
“We only had two other teams to play against and I think we always lost those games.”
He and Shahidi will soon be moving North to be closer to Yorkshire Television, where Emmerdale is filmed.
He says with a grin: “If it was up to me we’d be in West Bridgford, but with the City Ground and Trent Bridge just down the road, she knows I’d never be home.”

Morrissey and Vince Eager

March 2015

MORRISSEY would like to be cremated to a song by a Notts rock’n’roller.

The master of the morose, who is at the Capital FM Arena tonight, chose Vince Eager’s 1960 single The World’s Loneliest Man as his No. 1 in a list of Songs To Be Cremated With.

And his fascination with the song has led to him checking into hotels as Vince Eager and even releasing the song as a B-side on his own single.

“I find it all quite bizarre,” says Vince, 74, who lives in Radcliffe-on-Trent.

“The World’s Loneliest Man was written especially for me by Jerry Lordan, who had written Apache and other hits for The Shadows.

“When I did my TV series in 1959, on one occasion I sang Paul Anka’s Lonely Boy. Apparently a lot people went into shops to buy it but I hadn’t recorded it. Because there was so much interest we decided to go for one in a similar vein.”

The single, produced by George Martin before he went on to work with The Beatles, failed to make the Top 40.

“I wasn’t happy with the recording, to be honest, but it sold quite well, around 30,000 copies, which today would get it to No. 1. It got to something like No. 45.”

Fast forward to the late 90s when Vince, one of the original British rock’n’rollers alongside Cliff Richard, Billy Fury and Marty Wilde, was in the US and working as a cruise director.

“I started researching for a book I was writing. I’d got my first computer and I searched for Vince Eager to see what I could find... and there was this story about Morrissey’s list of songs he wanted to be cremated with. And I was at No. 1.”

The list, called Singles To Be Cremated With, was in an article in the NME called Headful Of Heroes, published in 1989.

Vince says: “Now I didn’t know much about him. I knew who The Smiths were but it wasn’t my sort of music. So I asked a friend who said ‘oh he probably chose that because he’s a miserable sod like you’.”

The song includes the lines:

I don’t want to live in the past

Oh no, that’s where you belong

I’ve got nothing to live for tomorrow

And today everything went wrong

I am the world’s loneliest man... yes... yes I am...

Vince continues: “About 18 months ago he released a single with my song as its B-side. It wasn’t his version of The World’s Loneliest Man but my actual version – the single I’d released in 1960. That blew me away. He never got in touch and asked his permission. But it was out of copyright anyway so he was OK to do that.”

The A-side was Glamorous Glue and the seven-inch vinyl record was only released as a limited edition, with some fans paying £150 for it.

“When I was recording my album in Bristol, the guy who ran the studio told me that Morrissey had been checking into hotels overseas as Vince Eager.

“I didn’t believe it but he said there was a bass player who Morrissey worked with that he knew and he’d told him that.

“He’d also told him that Morrissey does really like the record but he thinks everything else I’ve done is rubbish,” he laughs.

“Which is fair enough I suppose – I don’t like his stuff either.”


1. The World’s Loneliest Man – Vince Eager

2. Don’t Take The Lovers From The World – Shirley Bassey

3. What A Nice Way To Turn 17 – The Crystals

4. There, I’ve Said It Again – Sam Cooke

5. Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets – Dionne Warwick

6. Strange, I Know – The Marvelettes

7. Third Finger, Left Hand – Martha Reeves And The Vandellas

8. I Take It Back – Sandy Posey

9. Heart – Rita Pavone

10. Shoes – Reparata

Joe Dempsie

March 2015

HAD his family not moved to Nottingham when he was four months old, Joe Dempsie wouldn’t have been an actor.

“There’s no doubt about that,” says the 27-year-old, best known for his roles in teen drama Skins and epic HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones.

He was born in Liverpool but due to his parents’ work, grew up in West Bridgford.

By the age of 13, on his mother’s suggestion, he was a member of The Television Workshop, the Nottingham acting school that has produced numerous stars of TV, film and stage.

Although Dempsie wasn’t harbouring dreams of becoming an actor.

“I went because it was a laugh” he admits, talking to Confetti students as part of their ninth annual Industry Week, a series of events over five days and nights designed to inspire students of film, TV, music and games.

“It wasn’t something I’d considered before joining the Workshop. It wasn’t something I considered the first few years of being a member of the Workshop either.

“I just enjoyed messing around there twice a week. Every now again you’d go for an audition for a part in a TV show or a film but that was just a bonus.

“It was only when I’d been told by the guys who ran the Workshop that it was maybe something I could do, that I started to take it seriously.”

After finishing A-levels at West Bridgford School, where he admits to being “a frustrating student to teach”, Dempsie took a year off to “mull over” the idea of becoming an actor.

“I got a job at Cineworld in the Cornerhouse, thinking I’d be watching loads of films but at the end of a ten-hour shift the last thing you wanted to do was to spend another two hours there.

“By the end of that gap year not a lot was really happening auditions-wise so I applied to do history at university in Birmingham.”

But then he got the part in Skins, the E4 series about partying teenagers in which he played loveable hedonist Chris Miles.

“Skins was nuts,” says Dempsie, who was a regular at Media and Stealth nightclubs as a teenager.

“We shot series one and had no idea what would happen. It was a low-budget show for E4. But then the ad campaign for it started. The trailer seemed to be on every ad break on Channel 4, there were posters on buses, on the Tube... so the build-up for it was huge.

“When people talk about things changing overnight, that’s what happened for us. The night after it was shown, life was different. It was a bit like being in One Direction, I imagine.”

Dempsie, who recalls his first acting role as the ox in a school nativity play (“crouched with a Cornflakes box on my head”), was in the series for two years before being killed off.

“I think the success of it was that out of this motley crew of friends there was one that everyone could identify with.”

As a result of Skins he was being recognised in the street wherever he went.

“Skins started informing some of my career decisions; I didn’t really know if that level of attention was for me.”

He turned down a lot of Skins-style parts offered to him and took on small roles in Doctor Who, Merlin, Shane Meadows’ This Is England ‘86 and The Damned United, before his next major success came along: big budget US fantasy series Game of Thrones.

“I felt like I’d reclaimed my anonymity but then I had to readjust again when Game of Thrones came along,” he says.

“But it doesn’t affect my day to day in the same way that Skins did.”

Since 2011, he’s been playing Gendry in the internationally successful series based on the novels of George R R Martin.

A movie has been rumoured but he doesn’t know if it will happen.

“I think it’s a really good idea but I think the proposal is to do a couple more seasons and then a series of three films, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I hope it does happen, as long as I’m in it,” he laughs.

Other TV hits he’s appeared in include The Fades, Moving On, Accused, Southcliffe, New Worlds and Murder: Joint Enterprise, a one-off drama set in Nottingham that won a BAFTA.

“I don’t get back to Nottingham as much as I’d like,” says Dempsie, who lives in South London.

“My parents are still based here but they’ve been in Surrey for the past five months helping my younger sister, who has cerebral palsy, settle into her new house.

“We’ve got to get a care team in place, which is quite a long process.”

He adds: “When I do get back here it’ll be to see Forest or catch up with friends, although most of them are either engaged or have babies, so no-one wants to go into town anymore.”

Dempsie, who is single, stays in touch with numerous Workshoppers, including Mr Selfridge actress Aisling Loftus and recent BAFTA winner Jack O’Connell, plus Perry Fitzpatrick, his co-star in This Is England 90.

“It’s the most fun I’ve had on a set in a long, long time,” he says of the four-part drama, due to air on Channel 4 in the autumn. “Half the cast I grew up with at the Workshop,” he adds; among them were Vicky McClure, Andrew Shim, Rosamund Hanson, Michael Socha and Chanel Cresswell.

“For everyone it’s a safe environment.”

The BAFTA-winning series recently completed filming in Sheffield, with Nottingham-based director Shane Meadows, who he describes as “the master puppeteer.”

He adds: “We were reminiscing about the Workshop days.

“We’re in the golden age of Workshoppers being professional actors. When I joined it was only Samantha Morton and Chris Gascoyne, who was in Coronation Street, that we looked up to.

“Now we’re everywhere.”