Foyle's War - Series 2: Fifty Ships

Interviews with the Guest Cast - Press pack; October 29, 2003

Amanda Root plays Elizabeth Lewes
Jonathan Coy plays Hans Maier
Henry Goodman plays Howard Paige
Tom Georgeson plays Richard Hunter
Geoffrey Chater plays Professor Phillips

Amanda Root plays Elizabeth Lewes

Amanda Root enjoyed portraying Foyle's (Michael Kitchen) long lost love Elizabeth in Foyle's War.

"Elizabeth and Foyle had a passionate and romantic relationship when they were younger but her father didn't approve. She married her second choice but it wasn't the love she experienced with Foyle. Over the years she's remembered their relationship, even naming her second son Christopher. She has regretted every single day and her marriage has deteriorated."

The couple meet again when Elizabeth and her husband Arthur (Nicholas Le Prevost) invite Foyle to a dinner party with visiting American Howard Paige (Henry Goodman).

"There is electricity when they meet. She is ready to leave her husband for him. She touches a chord with Foyle but he won't let his feelings for her come to life again because of his love for his wife.

"The great challenge for me was working with Michael Kitchen in those scenes, trying to crack the character of Foyle, which Michael protects. So I loved it when he warmed slightly to Elizabeth."

Amanda adds: "Working with Michael was terrific. I've always admired him, he's an extraordinary actor with his own particular style. He has such a talent and I learned a lot from watching him in a scene."

Amanda is used to a variety of period costumes, thanks to her roles in The Forsyte Saga, Daniel Deronda, Anna Karenina and Franco Zefferelli's Jane Eyre.

"Elizabeth has beautiful clothes, elegant and sophisticated. I love the clothes from that era, they were fantastic and comfortable to wear. The heels and skirts show off your figure very well.

"I've just completed an episode of A Touch of Frost playing a tango dancer, which is very different to my costume drama roles. Ballroom dancing at competition level is very tough, stiff and starchy. But I love new challenges and it was great to do something completely different."

Amanda has enjoyed a busy year, appearing in a film about Philip Larkin and Peter Ackroyd's BBC documentary about London. Her other credits include Midsomer Murders, Waking The Dead and The Buddha of Suburbia.

Jonathan Coy plays Hans Maier

Jonathan Coy had to film in the English sea in the middle of the night for his role as Hans Maier, a spy who sneaks into the country by boat.

"We filmed off the Isle of Purbeck on the south coast at a time when the weather was filthy. But we had one night when the sea was like a millpond so that was lucky. We had to film the landing a few times and there was a champion stand-in rower, but I am going to take all the credit for it.

"Maier's story is based on a real life event and the costume designer had a photograph of a spy who was arrested. I rowed to shore in the same suit that I walked around town in - a sand brown suit with a lifejacket on top."

Maier is arrested and questioned by Foyle (Michael Kitchen).

"When he gets caught, he has a fairly flimsy story about being a Dutchman. I gave him a Dutch accent to begin with, but when he knows the game is up, he reverts to his own German accent. It was good fun to do, but I had to play down the Dutch accent so as not to give it a comedic touch.

"He is a decent soldier on an espionage mission for his country. He's courageous and Foyle treats him with respect. The recognise the decency in each other."

Jonathan is currently appearing in Michael Frayn's Democracy at the Royal National Theatre, and his forthcoming TV roles include Paradise Heights and Born and Bred. Down to Earth, Hornblower, Nicholas Nickleby, Longitude, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Shipman are among his other credits.

Henry Goodman plays Howard Paige

Henry Goodman believes Foyle (Michael Kitchen) has met his match in rich American Howard Paige.

"Paige is as insightful and canny as Foyle but in a Machiavellian way. He is driven by selfishness, as Foyle is driven by humanity. He belongs to the powerful industrial elite and is used to a world of winners and losers. Paige has been trained to be a winner and he is willing to tread on people."

Paige is a supporter of America's alliance with Britain, but offends some of the locals in Hastings with his brash

ways."He is very wealthy and wears tailored camel suits and he's charming and attractive on the outside. His style and richness is an irritant against the rough hessian world of Britain in the 1940s. What is interesting about the 40s is that we needed the Americans to win the war, so we had to inherit some of their tough mentality. "This episode is very contemporary and it was chilling opening the papers on set and reading about doing deals to go to war today," he adds.

Henry has enjoyed playing a range of powerful characters, from Richard III for the RSC to Shylock in Trevor Nunn's film of The Merchant of Venice.

"I get the powerful roles, although I'm very different to the people I play. But unless you have these resources inside you and an understanding of ambition and selfishness and their dangers you can't reveal it. The world sees dark eyes and dark hair as evil. That's why I go out of my way to balance the roles.

"I've done many American accents but I also played the Glaswegian father of Julia Roberts in Mary Reilly, a Russian accent for The Saint with Val Kilmer and I was English with Hugh Grant in Notting Hill.

"I had five months on Broadway playing Tartuffe so I went straight from a religious hypocrite to a more modern industrialist. Now I'm playing Dennis Selinger, who was Peter Sellers' agent in the new film about Sellers starring Geoffrey Rush.

"I didn't know Dennis but my agent Michael Foster was trained by him. He was respected and liked, a gentle old school manager, which is nice to do after such a nasty piece of work as Howard Paige."

Henry's other credits include Unfinished Business, Cold Lazarus and 99-1.

Tom Georgeson plays Richard Hunter

Tom Georgeson is not a fan of Richard Hunter, his character in Foyle's War.

"Hunter is a working class lad who went to Oxford. In the 1920s it was good if a working class boy got to grammar school, and very unusual to go to Oxford. So he must have been very bright but he let someone take advantage of him.

"How could he have let this guy get away with what he did? It must be that he has an academic brain that he doesn't know how to use properly!

"What happened really destroyed his life. He is very bitter about it and drinks too much. He's a solitary miserable figure and feels sorry for himself. He is totally different from me and I'm not sure I liked him at all as a character. I'm glad I'm the opposite."

Despite his dislike of Hunter, Tom's experience of Foyle's War was a happy one.

"I've worked with Michael Kitchen before and I enjoyed the filming. It was very relaxed and the crew were very experienced." Adds Tom: "Richard Hunter is my son's name, strangely enough. His full name is Richard Hunter Georgeson and he's in the business also, as a director, although we have never worked together."

Tom has enjoyed a long and successful career on stage and screen. He starred as tough cop Harry Naylor in Between The Lines, and his other many credits include The Manageress, City Central, Liverpool One and Cause of Death on television, and the films Land Girls, A Fish Called Wanda and Morality Play. He plays a detective inspector in the forthcoming new Poirot films.

Geoffrey Chater plays Professor Phillips

Playing an Oxford don in Foyle's War reminded Geoffrey Chater of his early days in television.

"Foyle's War is set in 1940 and my first TV was in 1947 so I know a little bit about it. Professor Phillips is a man who is a bit entrenched in the past but there's no harm in him. He's a kind man, who thinks favourably about the people who come under his tuition.

"He taught Foyle's son Andrew before he enlisted. He describes him as a young man who was against the establishment but as soon as his country was under threat, he volunteered and went to the other side of the fence."

Geoffrey's scenes were filmed at Charterhouse school.

"I had a black gown and a suit that had seen better days. Like many schoolmasters in those days, Phillips was committed to his lifestyle and the boys under his tuition. He had a vocation."

Geoffrey's career spans more than 50 years, including roles in such series as Brideshead Revisited, The Darling Buds of May, The Rector's Wife, Bergerac, Mapp & Lucia, Blott on the Landscape and Tales of the Unexpected.

But he has no plans to retire. "I love acting as much as when I started and I don't want to retire at all. Parts like Professor Phillips make a lot of sense if you are one of the older crowd. It's good to do a cameo as truthfully as you can and not just let it disappear into nothing."

With thanks to Shelagh for the publicity material.