Foyle's War

Interviews with the Guest Cast - A Lesson In Murder - September 2002; Publicity Release


Oliver Ford Davies - Lawrence Gascoigne
Cheryl Campbell - Emily Gascoigne
Sophia Myles - Susan Gascoigne
Elliot Cowan - Peter Buckingham
Madeleine Worrall - Florence Beale
John Shrapnel - Raymond Brooks
Tony Maudsley - Sgt Bill Ferris

Oliver Ford Davies - Lawrence Gascoigne

Oliver Ford Davies makes a return to the legal profession for his role as Judge Lawrence Gascoigne in Foyle's War.

"I played Peter Foxcott, the Head of Chambers, in Kavanagh QC and wanted to work with the director David Thacker again. My take on Lawrence is that he's not a successful barrister so decided to become a judge, which is more prestigious, but doesn't pay more.

"He married Emily, who has inherited an enormous house but has no money, so he has to keep up the house on a County Court Judge's wage. He is snobbish and enjoys being a big fish in a little pond. He's also a stiff, unbending man who likes getting into his country tweed clothes and sees himself as a great landowner."

Gascoigne lords it over his wife, played by Cheryl Campbell, and his daughter Susan (Sophia Myles).

"Susan regards him as a bully, which he is, essentially. I think he belongs to that generation that grew up before the First World War, then found the 20s and 30s hard to take. He can't deal with things like the emancipation of women or jazz - at heart he is a true Victorian."

Adds Oliver: "I had worked with Cheryl before in The Way We Live Now so that helped when we met again in Foyle's War. Sophia has a truthful, emotional naturalism about her, and with Cheryl's experience I couldn't have asked for a better family."

Oliver began work in the 1960s after first working as a history lecturer at Edinburgh University. He has worked extensively for the RSC and Royal National Theatre and won an Olivier Award as Best Actor in 1990.

His other television credits include A Very British Coup, The Cloning of Joanna May, Goodbye Cruel World, Anglo Saxon Attitudes, Between The Lines, David Copperfield, My Uncle Silas and Bertie and Elizabeth, while on film he has appeared in Defence of the Realm, Scandal, Sense and Sensibility, Mrs Brown, Titanic Town and Star Wars Episodes I and II.

Oliver played King Lear at the Almeida this year and a diary of his experiences is published this autumn. He has also completed two films, Johnny English, a spoof James Bond, starring Rowan Atkinson and directed by Peter Howitt, and Hanif Kureishi's The Mother.

"In Johnny English I play the Archbishop of Canterbury, but Rowan doesn't know if I am real or false, which was fun. The Mother stars Ann Reid as a widow in her 60s, who starts a sexual relationship with a younger man. She also has a fling with me, playing Bruce - but alas it's only a one night stand."


Cheryl Campbell - Emily Gascoigne

Emily Gascoigne is a prisoner within her family, according to Cheryl Campbell who plays her.

"She is locked into something she can't get out of with any dignity. She is a prisoner to her own desired self-image and need to keeping up appearances. Emily is not a terribly happy woman. I wanted to create an air of loneliness around her, stuck in such a large house.

"Her relationship with her husband Lawrence is based on disappointment. Their marriage was serviceable for a few years and it allowed her to have a social life. He was respectful, upright and worthy - not top notch but his credentials were there. The disappointment came when their money problems started, followed by his secret behaviour of cutting her out. Their friendship was jeopardised because trust was not a top priority. What little solace she gets is from her daughter, but that's not perfect."

Cheryl was delighted to get a chance to work with Michael Kitchen, who stars as Foyle.

"It was an easy and effortless audition to say yes to, because I've been a fan of Michael for a long time, and David the director is very interested in actors. I loved doing it. The deceit of the murder-mystery is that a lot of the information is deliberately withheld from the viewer at the beginning. A lot of people in the film are red herrings; they are all possible suspects, like the scattering of shot."

Fans of Cheryl will see her with a new look in the film.

"I had my hair cut quite short and then this job came along. Ideally it would have been a bit longer, but it was quite liberating. It was waved and put in a period style look. But I am always known for having such long hair that when I go to the hairdressers they usually refuse to take much off!"

Cheryl's many credits include Absurd Person Singular, The Mill on the Floss, The Shooting Party, Bramwell, Midsomer Murders and Sherlock Holmes. Chariots of Fire, McVicar and Greystoke are among her films.

"I have worked on programmes that cover every period except mediaeval, but I'd love to do a comedy role or a tough modern love story. I did a contemporary play last year called So Long Life and all my friends said it was so refreshing to see me play someone with a real edge."


Sophia Myles - Susan Gascoigne

Sophia Myles found learning the foxtrot for her role as Susan in Foyle's War quite a challenge.

"It was a nightmare! I was dancing with Elliot Cowan, who plays Susan's admirer Peter Buckingham. He is a dancer but I like to take the lead. We were both incredibly strong and in rehearsals we were fighting to win. We marked out all our movements on the floor, but on the day we filmed the ball scene there was nothing there to help us - surprisingly it was quite easy.

"I've trained for all the movements before, but on ice. I learned for The Snow Queen, a film that unfortunately collapsed, but it has become my exercise. I love ice-skating and I'm better on ice than on the ground."

Sophia plays the downtrodden daughter of Lawrence Gascoigne (Oliver Ford Davies).

"Susan is repressed by her family and the society she lives in. She's a victim of parental bullying and the cold, bleak nature of the house reflects the dynamic of the family. Her parents treat her like a 14-year-old instead of 22 and she still dresses like a child.

"She is sensitive, compassionate and full of life. The film sees her battling between the strong morals imprinted in her brain by her family and what she feels in her heart. She's fallen in love with Peter, knowing she is going against her family's morals. It's a classic struggle against class. She also takes in an evacuee in an attempt to bring some kind of humanity into the house."

Unlike her character, Sophia bonded with her on-screen parents.

"Cheryl Campbell plays my mother and we clicked immediately. I told her that I get very nervous and giggly in an eating scene and she confessed she felt exactly the same. So we were conspiring together not to laugh. In reality we both love spicy food so we are planning a night out together. And Oliver Ford Davies was dedicated and very frightening when he turned it on as my father!"

Twenty-two-year-old Sophia turned her back on a Cambridge degree to become an actress and her TV credits include Big Women, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and Close and True. On film she played Susan in Mansfield Park, appeared as Johnny Depp's wife in From Hell and starred in The Abduction Club, with Matthew Rhys and Nigel Hawthorne.

"In real life I'm energetic and hardworking, not a demure, corseted maiden. I've done a piece called Money Can Buy You Love for Channel 4's Dogma TV strand where I play the girlfriend of a rent boy living in a council flat in the East End. It was refreshing to do something contemporary - such a change from high-heeled shoes and a corset, I felt like I was acting in my pyjamas."

Adds Sophia: "I recently visited LA and had 53 meetings in three weeks. It's an incredible city and I'd be quite happy to uproot and live there if the right projects come off. London is my home, but I'm a nomad and I'll travel where the work takes me."


Elliot Cowan - Peter Buckingham

Playing Peter Buckingham in Foyle's War was ideal for Elliot Cowan - because he gets a chance to indulge his love of dancing.

"I had to go back in time and relearn the waltz as well as the foxtrot from scratch. I loved doing it. Learning the foxtrot gives you information about the social environment because dance and music convey the constraints of the period. It helps you with poise and character.

"I love to do salsa but in working on the dance scenes for Foyle's War I met several people playing the extras who do Lindy Hop, a 1940s jazzy swing dance. They invited me to go to classes with them and it's taken over from salsa temporarily."

Peter Buckingham is a factory worker who falls for judge's daughter Susan Gascoigne (Sophia Myles), knowing that her father (Oliver Ford Davies) thinks he isn't good enough.

"Peter is trying to do his best for the woman he loves. He has passions and good intentions but he is marginalized by his love situation. He has to give Susan the strength and courage to continue their relationship and he stands by her, through some horrific revelations about her family. He's able to forgive and forget. I didn't know Sophia before but she is very experienced for her age and had good ideas about our scenes."

Peter is quite a contrast from Elliot's other ITV1 role this autumn, womanising SAS trooper Jem Poynton in Ultimate Force.

"Jem is not emotionally involved with anyone, while Peter is more sensitive and single-minded about Susan. But he's not a walkover, either, he is strong, moody and broody, which is interesting to play. I was attracted to playing a period character. You have to try to understand the pressures of being a working man during wartime and how that affects his behaviour."

Elliot's feet have hardly touched the ground since he left RADA in 2001. As well as Foyle's War and Ultimate Force, he also appears as a civil servant in Peter Kosminsky's The Project for BBC1.

He recently appeared at the Battersea Arts Centre in a David Hare translation of Brecht's play The Life of Galileo and his other credits include Rescue Me, Jonathan Creek and The Blooding.

Says Elliot: "I have had marvellous opportunities and it's been great to learn from more experienced actors like Michael Kitchen and Oliver Ford Davies. As part of their working community, you learn so much more than you do at drama school. I'm only 26 and I want to do more TV roles, but I'd also love to establish a reputation as a good working theatre actor of range and commitment, so perhaps one can inform the other."


Madeleine Worrall - Florence Beale

Madeleine Worrall knew immediately that she wanted the role of grieving widow Florence Beale in Foyle's War.

"I had an immediate response to her. Her husband hangs himself in the first few minutes of the piece and it's rare a character starts with such a trauma. It gives her more depth. The challenge for me was to bring someone so utterly shocked to life.

"Florence is a very strong, articulate and passionate person. She has strong beliefs about pacifism and the nature of humanity and kindness, like her husband. But I think the war makes a lot of people questions their beliefs."

Madeleine liked Florence's look - although she would have fancied a touch more glamour.

"She is a child of the earth, living on a farm that is a bit like a commune, so she has to look workmanlike. The clothes were all authentic, with a simple feel, and putting them on helped a lot because they change the way you walk. But Florence doesn't have the high gloss finish of some women in the 1940s. No beautiful hair rolls because she wouldn't have time for that and almost no make-up. That was a bit scary and I kept saying to put another bit on!" Madeleine plays another woman with convictions in ITV1's drama Ultimate Force.

"I play Lorraine who is a well to do girl who gets caught up with eco-terrorists. She is sent in to spy on them but is way out of her depth and gets into deep trouble. Florence has a maturity and a passion but Lorraine is younger and flightier."

Edinburgh-born Madeleine studied at Cambridge University and LAMDA and her other TV credits include Midsomer Murders, Judge John Deed and The Gentleman Thief. She has also appeared with the RSC and Royal National Theatre and is an accomplished singer, pianist and oboe player.

"I have just finished A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Exchange Theatre. I had my clothes ripped off and was dumped in a pond because the director wanted to give it a real earthy feel. I was bruised and had dirt ingrained in my feet for weeks, but it was terrific fun!"


John Shrapnel - Raymond Brooks

John Shrapnel jumped at the chance to appear in his first World War Two drama.

"I was really intrigued by the setting and themes of Foyle's War. It covers contemporary issues but it's set in an England that's long gone. The series deals with ideas of neighbourliness and cohesion in society, as a nation under threat comes together to fight as one against the enemy.

"It's a first for me and I think it's a good period piece. Reading it made me realise that it's a period we are losing - it's not a Jane Austen world."

John plays Raymond Brooks, a wealthy businessman who sits with Foyle (Michael Kitchen) on the Hastings Defence Committee.

"Raymond Brooks is a decorated hero from the First World War. He's an estimable chap who has seen it all. Then he discovers that his son is going to be a conscientious objector in World War Two. It's embarrassing if a hero's son is seen avoiding the battle and Brooks doesn't want his son to look like a coward.

"He's a successful businessman so I got to wear good, authentically-made 1940s suits and rather luxurious handmade shirts. That felt nice and helped me get into the period."

Adds John: "I think it is quite unique to bring both world wars into one episode. There are only now about six veterans still alive from World War One. They are very old but they're our only real connection."

John has enjoyed a long career on stage and screen after beginning his career under Laurence Olivier at the National Theatre. His many television credits include Edward and Mrs Simpson, Wagner with Richard Burton, Dennis Potter's Blackeyes, Selling Hitler, GBH, Bodyguards, Invasion Earth and Hornblower. He recently completed a run as Captain George Bracket in the Royal National Theatre production of South Pacific.

His film work includes Nicholas and Alexandra, Personal Services, Testimony, Gladiator, Notting Hill and 101 Dalmatians. His latest film, K19 - The Widowmaker, set in Cold War Russia and starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, recently opened in the UK, and he is now working on Mathilde with Jeremy Irons.

"I have worked with the biggest and the best and I feel very fortunate to be approached by such names. I would have to live in America to play the whole Hollywood game, but I prefer to be in the country in Suffolk."


Tony Maudsley - Sgt Bill Ferris

Tony Maudsley enjoyed playing the bad guy for a change in Foyle's War.

"I generally get cast in victim roles so to be given a tormentor was a challenge and great to get my teeth into, especially playing a nasty character in a period piece.

"Bill Ferris is a policeman who is the arresting officer at a police station. The film is about conscientious objectors, or 'conchies', as Bill calls them. He has a brother who is fighting in France and a lot of his mates will not come back from the war. So he doesn't have a lot of sympathy for the conchies' beliefs. He is quite aggressive and physical; he uses his size and his authority and almost tortures the poor guy in the cell."

Tony is more used to playing characters on the other side of the prison bars, such as Stefan Kiszko in the award-winning A Life For A Life, and wronged prisoner David McVay in another new ITV1 drama, Rose & Maloney.

Since his acclaimed portrayal of Kiszko, Tony has not looked back, with My Uncle Silas, Mersey Beat, Nice Guy Eddie, Gentleman's Relish, In A Land of Plenty, Plunkett and Maclean and Sleepy Hollow among his many credits

Forthcoming roles include Ready When You Are, Mr McGill with Tom Courtenay, Avenging Angels with Jessica Stephenson and Simon Shepherd and the feature film The Intended with Brenda Fricker, Olympia Dukakis and Janet McTeer.

It's all a far cry from the days when he gave up acting to work in bingo halls.

"I started acting at 16, mainly in community theatre in Liverpool near my home. I dropped out for a while and worked in three different bingo halls. Then I was offered a place at the Welsh College of Music and Drama. I was 23 then and I've never looked back.

"I feel honoured for the roles and huge opportunities I've had. It's great to be this busy and have such a variety of roles, probably all because I don't have matinee idol looks!"

With thanks to Shelagh for the publicity material.