The Foxley Docket recently had the opportunity to sit down with Welsh actor-turned-radio host, Tom Price. Tom has had an illustrious career across both mediums, best known as Sgt. Andy Davidson in Torchwood, as one half of the commentary team in BBC Three’s World Series of Dating and most recently as the Duke of Sutherland in historic drama/biography, Victoria. We discussed Theresa’s trousers, being deeply unimpressed with life in Britain and the radio version of a nuclear attack.
THE FOXLEY DOCKET: Where did your passion for TV and radio begin? What was it about the industry that appealed to you?
TOM PRICE: We either always had a radio or a TV on in my house. Often both. So I was either watching Dallas with my mother or listening to Radio 2 blaring away. I loved the noise and the life of it all and it caught me from a very early age. People were showing off! For money! I wanted in on that asap.
TFD: Who, would you say if anybody, inspires your approach to acting? What is it about their style that you hope to channel in your performances?
TP: I can remember being about 6 and watching Tom Conti in a West End play that my Dad had taken me to. In one scene he had to act as if a lion was approaching him. I was terrified. I mean I actually thought there had to be a lion in the front row. It was that good. Sadly there was no lion, I later discovered. Also whenever I see Tom Conti in anything I just want him to do the scared-of-a-lion thing.
TFD: How did your own career into the world of TV begin?
TP: My first acting role was actually in a kid’s TV show about the Romans. I was playing the part of Julius Caesar and my toga was really badly fitted and kept slipping off to reveal bare shoulder. I looked like I was flirting with my senators. I’d say my career hasn’t looked back since.
TFD: Your transition to radio began with Radio 4 comedy, Rigor Mortis, followed by the Torchwood radio play, ‘Asylum’. How was the transition from being in front of the camera to behind the microphone? In what ways do you feel the change in surroundings and format affected your performance?
TP: I love the simplicity of acting in radio drama. The hardest parts of it are the writing and the editing, which I’ve done a lot of since. But back then I could just turn up and play with the great lines that were right in front of me. It’s subtle and supple and really reminds you of the playful side of acting.
TFD: In 2014, ‘The Leak’ was launched, a BBC Radio Wales show which brought a vast array of showbiz talent for a topical discussion on the week’s news. Who would you say were the highlights of The Leak? Are there any memorable anecdotes you can share?
TP: Last year there was one show where we wanted to find out how easily Theresa May’s leather trousers had distracted from serious political debate. So we went into Cardiff and talked to people about Brexit while someone shouted “TROUSERS” in the background. Sure enough it was really distracting.
TFD: Performing as a stand-up comedian, in the same year, you supported Stephen Merchant and sold out a month-long run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. What was it like being on tour with Stephen Merchant? Did you pick anything up from his approach to comedy?
TP: It’s nice not to be the tallest person in the room, mainly. That was the highlight. That and the fact that whole aeroplanes were used up just for our leg room. It was a great time for my legs, that tour. He’s got a great approach to comedy. Thoughtful, philosophical, doubting and extremely silly. He’s awesome.
TFD: It’s clear with British comedy series such as The Office receiving American adaptations that British humour is different to other countries. Why do you think this is? What makes a style of humour ‘British’, in your opinion?
TP: I think we’re deeply unimpressed with life in Britain. It’s the weather. We’ve given up on the sun. And when people have given up, they’re incredibly honest and open and funny.
TFD: With this in mind, when presenting World Series of Dating alongside seasoned comedy actor Rob Riggle, did you find a British approach to dating and an American approach had different reactions? How did these different views bounce off each other within the commentary booth?
TP: Americans think of it as a fun opportunity to show other people how great they, and their teeth, are. British people think of it as a form of torture – I think that just about sums it up.
TFD: As an avid television viewer, you get “far too distracted by a good box-set.” What are you currently watching at the moment? Is there anything you’ve seen recently that blew you away? Is there anything you’re looking forward to in the near future?
TP: The Night Of is excellent. I really enjoyed Westworld and I’m currently finally watching Fleabag which is AMAZING. Bosch is back on Amazon Prime. What a show! I love it – clever plotting, great characters, superbly shot. It’s a must-see.
TFD: You’re “always getting stuck into the latest gadgets and technology.” You’re on a desert island (without wi-fi, data or signal!) and you have three gadgets with you – what are they, and why?
TP: NO INTERNET!?? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME? Obviously I’d have a kindle fully loaded with 1TB worth of writing on it. I’d also have my Amazon Echo so I had someone to talk to. Even though with no internet she’d just say the same sentence again and again – which, to be honest, is how I like my interactions with people. To finish off I’d have a toaster so eventually I could fling it in the sea and end it all. That’d work, right?
TFD: In October, you’ve been presenting your own show on Magic Radio, working alongside the likes of Mel Giedroyc, Rick Astley & Kim Wilde. Can you tell us a bit about this experience? I understand your first slot got off to a slightly rocky start…
TP: Uh yes, I managed to take the entire station off air. Is that bad? Apparently that’s bad. An emergency CD plays and the station boss gets a call on their hotline. It’s like the radio version of a nuclear attack. Silence for more than 20 seconds is basically radio suicide. It was very dramatic and I couldn’t stop laughing. Not sure how I managed to get asked back.
TFD: Why should people tune into your radio show? What do you feel you offer that sets you apart? And most importantly, what’s on your playlist?!
TP: Endlessly brilliant songs – seriously. All bangers, no clangers. And also I sometimes read out texts from listeners. If you include the phrase LTS on your text (Loving / Liking / Listening To The Show) then you’re guaranteed a shout out. This policy sometimes backfires.
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