Gareth Thomas panel
As a young actor, Gareth said, he was always cast as tramps and heavies, and complained to his agent that he never played what he was. "And what are you?" his agent asked. "Prep school, Oxford, Sandhurst, and RADA." The agent promptly got him a role as Lord Charles Beresford.
Gareth studied history and English at Oxford, but what could he do with that but teach? He left after a year, bummed around, then decided to try Sandhurst. He spent a term there, then left and wrote poetry for six months, living on it. He then worked for a solicitor specialising in industrial audits and gave it up on moral grounds. We laughed, but he explained that the last straw was when he was sent to see a man who'd been blinded in an industrial accident and told to get away with paying him as little as possible even though the man had small children; he resigned in disgust. Good for you, Gareth!
He then thought he'd try RADA and got in. He found that he liked this game of dressing up and pretending to be someone else.
Were you there with anyone famous? No; out of 3000 actors, one might become a household name.
On acting: At RADA in his day, they learned stage management and even how to make a false beard. When they graduated they were regarded as only having the basic foundations and had to learn from experience. Gareth went to Liverpool Theatre as an acting stage manager which meant he acted, helped with sets, got the cast their cups of tea etc. "It was hard graft." Nowadays, kids study TV and expect a job when they leave drama school. What was once a profession is now an unpleasant business where people unconnected with the theatre are hired to work behind the scenes. In his day, actors did 40 weeks in rep on 'probation' before getting an Equity card. There is no real training any more—either you're lucky or not.
On the revived Dr Who: He's not sure it will work so long after. He once suggested having a woman Doctor but the BBC said no. Tom Baker suggested a crossover with Blake's 7 where Blake and the Doctor meet in a corridor and nod to each other; again no. "The BBC have no sense of humour."
What about a new Blake's 7? "Speaking off the top of my head—and I've got to as I'm sitting down—" Gareth went on to say he imagines it would have to be Avon grooming seven new young people to follow on or it wouldn't work.