In Conversation With...

 In conversation With Paul McGann

St George’s Hall, Liverpool - Saturday 4th February, 2012

©Brian Roberts Photography

’In Conversation with Paul McGann’ is the seventh in a series of ‘In Conversation with...’ events held in Liverpool by Club Geek Chic. It’s an innovative format, with each guest chatting about their life and career. This conversation is interspersed by the interviewee’s five favourite songs, which are performed live by local bands/musicians.
Interviewer Mike Neary chatted to Paul about his childhood, his family and growing up in the Kensington area of Liverpool. Paul talked of his time as a schoolboy in the choir and some previously unseen images of him as a young child and teenager appeared on the back screen. Musically, although as a young child he and his brothers had been dressed in Beatle suits, he was a huge fan of David Bowie and his first song choice was Bowie’s ‘Moonage Dream’, sung with great confidence by Paul Donnelly (below right) and clearly much enjoyed by Paul, along with the audience.

©Jason Salkey

Paul went on to discuss his entry to RADA and his time there, moving on to his first TV role in ‘Give us a Break’ with Robert Lindsay.
The conversation then turned to his brief time as Richard Sharpe (left) in the acclaimed series, a role now synomonous with Sean Bean. Paul explained about the footballing accident and resulting injury that had curtailed his time on the show, leading to the re-casting. Does he have any regrets? No, not really. It’s the nature of the job‘

©Brian Roberts Photography

We were then treated to Paul’s second song choice of the evening, Billie Holiday’s ‘Don’t Explain’, performed by Jo Steel and Matt Lamin, before the conversation resumed.

©Brian Roberts Photography

The Monocled Mutineer’ was clearly a major role in Paul’s early career but I don’t think many of the audience members were aware of how deeply playing the role of Percy Topliss had affected Paul. He talked in length about the film and was visibly moved (right) when Lizzie Nunnery (left) sang the hauntingly beautiful ‘The Lads in their Hundreds’.

©Brian Roberts Photography

Arguably his second most reknowned role couldn’t go without a mention either - he discussed how he got the role of Dr Who, playing the 8th Doctor in the 1996 movie, after the casting director had seen the images of him in ‘The Hanging Gale’. He also chatted about working for Spielberg only to see his part end up on the cutting room floor, a not uncommon thing in films but disappointing nonetheless.
It was interesting to hear him discuss his character in ‘The Importance of being Earnest’, something which I don’t think he has talked about before and clearly isn’t one of his favourite roles.
The evening would have been incomplete if the cult film ‘Withnail and I’ and Paul’s role as Marwood hadn’t been discussed. It’s clearly a role he is very proud of and to this day still gets lines shoulted out at him when he passes people, the most recent occurrence being around 2 months ago, some 25 years after the film! He also talked about Richard E Grant’s portrayal of Withnail and the fact that Richard is a teetotaller, somthing outside of the realms of Bruce Robinsons comprehension.
Paul’s fourth song choice was Lush Life by Billie Strayhorn performed by Thomas Lang and his band. Just before Thomas began to sing, Paul amused the audience by regaling them with the fact that this song was so difficult to sing that Frank Sinatra had famously refused to do so (no pressure there then!). Luckily, Mr Lang was not put off and sang it perfectly!
And so the evening was coming to an end as Paul talked about his latest role and his first time hosting a programme. He is currently filming ‘The Petrol Age’ for Sky Atlantic, which will hit our screens in March. It’s a four part series about the history of the British Motor Car and will be shown prior to Sky launching their coverage of the Grand Prix. He’s having a great time filming and revealed that he feels lucky to be having such fun and getitng paid for it! The evening ended with his final song choice, ‘Hear My Prayer’, performed by the Amadeus Choir (shown right, with Paul, before the evening started). An apt final performance for a wonderful evenings entertainment.

©Brian Roberts Photography

St George’s Hall was the perfect setting for the evening and it ran beautifully. Paul was candid and honest throughout and answered everything put before him. He was clearly at ease with Mike Neary, loved the music played for him and was incredibly relaxed, due in no small part to the organisation of Club Geek Chic’s Gemma Aldcroft and Karen Podesta.
I would like to add my personal thanks to Gemma and Karen for a wonderful evening’s entertainment, to Brian Roberts for use of the photos (please do not copy, a link to his website is provided), to Mike Neary for being such a fabulous interviewer, to the singers and musicians for their fantastic contribution and finally to Paul, without whom.....

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