Pete Gibson is an actor based in the North West. He will be playing Douglas Adams in Mark Griffiths new play We Apologise for the Inconvenience
Did you know much about Douglas Adams when you took on the part?
I LOVED the TV version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when I was a kid. Being about ten at the time, I probably didn’t appreciate the cleverness of the writing but remember Marvin the Paranoid Android and Zaphod Beeblebrox (the guy with two heads!) particularly. The whole scene with the super computer Deep Thought – who after billions of years works out that the answer to the ultimate question, the meaning of life, the universe and everything is “42” – also sticks in the mind.
Approaching biographical pieces, do you treat it as any other script or do you research the character?
I am a massive fan of Michael Sheen who has played everyone from Brian Clough to Tony Blair and he advised actors to never do a Mike Yarwood! It is not an impression, it is a character, and so I do the usual script analysis, concentrating on what the writer, the cast and the character himself says. Mind you, I have just played Alan Bennett in a wonderful play called “Television Centre: Room 5064” and the rhythm of his language is such, that you can’t help doing the reedy singsong Leeds voice. It also had me thinking about cakes quite a lot…
This blog tends to focus on South East and London but what is it like being an actor based in the North West, a region known for its great theatres but competing with London?
The presence of Media City in Salford has been a massive boost to actors in the North West when it comes to screen work. Manchester has a superb fringe scene too, but I am really pleased we are doing We Apologise for the Inconvenience in Liverpool, first. Our brilliant director Emma Bird is from Liverpool and the scene there seems to be fresh, new and exciting. Having worked in Sheffield, Newcastle and Leeds, there is some superb talent there too – writers, producers and actors – and Oldham has an amazing reputation from producing young actors mostly for television. I love to watch a show that has come up from London but would like to see more productions travel to the capital from the North. Talent doesn’t stop at the Watford Gap!
You run your own PR, marketing and events company Pete Gibson Media. Has your acting career been a help or hindrance in this role?
Running your own business helps free up your time to devote to acting and supports you financially (I am from a VERY working class background!). I never need to seek permission for a couple of hours off from the boss, which is nice. The worlds of PR and acting cross over quite seamlessly. A lot of my work is in producing corporate films and I love giving talented actors some employment. My business largely supports charities and the arts and people within acting have been so giving – often fronting campaigns and events. It helps when you have to promote your forthcoming show to have been doing radio and TV interviews for 30 years now (showing my age!). But acting is the first love.
Whilst London isn’t the centre of the universe, would you like to bring the show there after its run in Liverpool and Manchester?
I am sure Douglas Adams has a line about where the centre of the universe really is – I will have to research it! Room 5064 and a couple of other productions I have been in, have been to London and I would love We Apologise for the Inconvenience to visit, too. Getting on my soap box now, my personal ambition is to take theatre to areas where drama is poorly served. Provincial theatres are being threatened with closure at an alarming rate and yet I have worked on TIE projects and sessions with everyone from pensioners to prisoners, and they love drama – it can be truly life-changing.
We Apologise for the Inconvenience is being performed in Liverpool and Manchester this November, for details and tickets go here;