Robson Green is one of TV’s best-known and popular actors, with a career that’s spanned nearly 30 years. When he’s not fishing or with his son, he can be found filming the new series of Grantchester.

…the shoulders on my dad

Robson Green
Robson with his mum and brother David

He was a miner and that job crafts a certain type of hard, powerful man. His very appearance demanded respect and, boy, did he get it.

He was never physical with my sisters and brother and me, but I was fearful of him and he got into a few fights outside home. When I was nine, a young man tried to rearrange my face with his foot. When my dad saw what had happened, he went over to his house and rearranged the father’s face and stuffed him in the dustbin.

But he had another side to him: he was a national champion ballroom dancer, a real natty dresser and a brilliant singer. He was the warm-up act for a lot of the great acts that came to the north-east clubs. He’d always end with 'Blueberry Hill' and bring the house down.

 

 

…the sense of community in Dudley, Northumberland

It was self-policing—if anyone misbehaved, all the other person had to say was, “If you do that again I’ll tell your dad.” Everyone looked out for each other and knew where other people’s kids were.

Northumberland is a beautiful county; I still live there and have never been comfortable in cities. I find all that concrete too grim.

 

 

…being told, “you’ll never be an actor, you’re a fool and you’ll always be one.”

Football kits
Kitted out for his school football team

So said one of the masters at school, but it was the women teachers who inspired me.

My drama teacher Mrs Wheeler said, “You have the ingredients for being a very fine actor.” I bumped into her a couple of years ago. She gave me a big hug and said, “I’m so happy for you, Robson, you handsome man.”

She was gorgeous, that Mrs Wheeler.

 

 

…leaving school at 16 and going to work at the Swan Hunter shipyard

I couldn’t believe how many people worked there—tens of thousands. Three times a week after work I’d go to Backworth Drama Centre. After I’d been at Swan Hunter some four years, Max Roberts, the resident director at Backworth, offered me a lead role in the play The Long Line—a proper, professional job. I’d have to leave the shipyard. 

When I told my parents there was utter confusion. My dad said, “What do you mean you’re going to be an actor? That’s a hobby, not a job.” He was in a panic about how he was going to tell his mates—he had the false perception that being an actor meant I must have liked other fellas…

I said, “The only person who will suffer if I fail is myself,” and off I went. Inside I knew I’d survive. 

And I’ll never forget my mum and dad at the opening night of The Long Line. I watched as my dad refused the complimentary tickets and paid for them with his hard-earned money.

 

 

…Simon Cowell pestering my mother

band
Robson and Jerome Flynn sold millions of records during their heyday in the mid-1990s

When I was in Soldier Soldier, Jerome Flynn and I sang 'Unchained Melody' in a wedding scene. That was in 1993. No one had heard of Simon Cowell back then—certainly not my mother, who kept getting calls from him asking me to ring to talk about recording a single.

This went on for about a year until I said, “If you ring my mother one more time you’ll be talking to my lawyers, not me.” But Simon taught me that money corrupts the best- laid plans.

He offered Jerome and me a life-changing amount and we recorded the song in 1995. It sold some two million copies and was number one for seven weeks. Then we recorded two albums—it was an amazing time.

 

 

…thinking I was going to die

We were filming on an 82-foot trawler in the Brooks Peninsula in Canada for Extreme Fishing with Robson Green when the storm we hit turned into a Force 10 hurricane. Now, I’m not a religious man, but for 36 hours I talked to The Almighty and begged him to get us home safely. I thought I’d never see my son Taylor again.

I was so sick it felt like I’d brought up every organ of my body. It was a living hell; nothing will ever come close to that horrendous experience. Some of the crew who worked on that boat have never stepped back on board.

 

 

…catching my first fish

Robson fish
Robson is known for his fishing exploits, calling it "my therapy"

I’ve made a lot of fishing programmes over the last few years and had so much fun doing so. But I’ll never forget the beautiful morning my uncle took me to the River Coquet when I was seven.

We left home at 4.30am and spotted a barn owl, two mating hedgehogs, otters, kingfishers—it was idyllic. My uncle put a little fly on my line, made from hair from a hare’s ear, and taught me to flick it out on the river. Although
I had no rhythm, I got a bite and that all-consuming feeling went through my body—the gasp of surprise, the thrill!

My uncle was so happy and said, “That’s a big fish, Robson! People dream of catching a fish that big.” It was a four-pound brown trout and is—to this day—the best fish I’ve ever caught.

 

 

...laughing a lot

I laugh all the time with James Norton when filming Grantchester. We bonded immediately and we’re so relaxed in each other’s company that I think it must be quite annoying for the crew.

Sometimes when I do my lines he looks at me questioningly as if to say, “You’re actually going to commit that to camera?” and that’s it—we’ve got tears running down our faces. James had a great audition.

When they asked him, “What can you bring to the character of this charismatic member of the clergy?” he replied, “I’ve got a first-class degree in theology from Cambridge.” 

 

Read the full interview in the March edition of Reader's Digest

Buy series one of Grantchester in our entertainment shop for £12.99

Feature image via Go Fishing

 

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