First Impressions: Tim Piggot-Smith
Although the distinguished Tim Pigott-Smith trained as a classical stage actor, he became famous overnight portraying the buttoned-up Captain Ronald Merrick in TV’s popular The Jewel In The Crown. He is married to actress Pamela Miles and they have o
What are you working on at the moment?
I am preparing Prospero for the Theatre Royal Bath, and next week I am playing O'Brien (the interrogator) in Orwell's 1984, on the radio.
When were you at your happiest?
I am at my happiest now.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing any one of our family – my wife, our son, our daughterinlaw, or our new baby granddaughter.
What is your earliest memory?
I wake up in a bunk on board a ship. I am alone. I climb down from the bunk. I walk out of the cabin and along a white corridor. The light becomes increasingly dazzling. I was three and my mother was bringing me home from Africa to England because I was very ill. I went into a coma. A doctor on the boat saved my life. I have always thought of this as less of a memory and more of a neardeath experience.
Who has been your greatest influence?
Stephen Pratt, my headmaster at school; Glynne Wickham, at Bristol University; Nat Brenner, at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The directors Desmond Although the distinguished Tim Pigott-Smith trained as a classical stage actor, he became famous overnight portraying the buttoned-up Captain Ronald Merrick in TV's popular The Jewel In The Crown. He is married to actress Pamela Miles and they have one son, Tom. the directors Desmond Davis and Christopher Morahan. Take any one of them away and I would not be where I am now.
What do you most dislike about yourself?
There isn't much I like.
What is your most treasured possession?
There isn't one – it's people I value.
What trait do you most deplore in others?
An inability to see both sides of an issue.
Do you have a fantasy address?
Le Grand Hôtel du Palais, Biarritz.
What is your all-time favourite book?
Anything by Shakespeare.
What is your favourite film?
Once Upon A Time In The West.
Your favourite record or piece of music?
Our son (a professional violinist), playing the slow movement of the Mozart Violin Concerto No 3 – it always makes me cry.
Your favourite meal?
Moules marinières in Les Flots Bleus – a small family hotel/restaurant in Biarritz: Mami in the corner, Arlette serving, the sun setting over the ocean and turning everything orange. A glass of Jurançon. Sheer bliss.
Who would you most like to come to dinner?
All our friends round an enormous round table.
Which historical character do you most admire?
I can't choose one. I choose all the young people who have given their lives, that we may live the way we do.
What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
'Coward', when I shirked a tackle at rugby, and 'Grow up'. I still haven't.
Do you believe in aliens?
Not for a second.
What is your secret vice?
That's a secret.
Do you write thank-you notes?
Yes. For gifts and meals. After plays and parties.
Which phrase do you most overuse?
It's not a phrase, it's the word – 'absolutely'. And as I say it, I remember the quote: 'One would only use the word absolutely to an absolute fool.' And does that stop me using it? I wish.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
So much money that I could give freely to those causes I cherish – my old university, my old drama school and Friendship Works – a wonderful charity of which I am a patron.
What would you like your epitaph to say?
He did more good than harm.
Tim Pigott-Smith stars in Shakespeare's The Tempest at Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose, Bath BA1 1ET, from 23 August to 8 September: 01225-448844, www.theatreroyal.org.uk
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