Interview by Carl Marsh - June 2014
most people will remember you from playing Greg Shadwick in Brookside, and also Owen Davies in Holby City, whilst those with young children will know you as the new narrator of the children’s animated TV show, Thomas & Friends.
Thanks for doing this interview, as I know you feel that reading is important?
Well, to anyone that is reading this, I just think it is vastly important that children, especially the younger ones, read from an early age. There is so much technology today, such as a Nintendo DS for example, that my kids are rationed when playing on these devices, and we make sure our 6 year old reads every single night. She is doing quite well at school, and is in the top stream as far as reading is concerned, and I think that is really important. I encourage my kids to read, and there is no better way of escaping and using your imagination, than reading a good book.
People may not know that you are also an accomplished stage actor, and also a singer with recorded tracks. If you had to choose, would you like to win a Tony for the stage, a Grammy for singing, or an Oscar for acting?
Actually that’s a tough one! I think theatre has always been my first love and its where I started. I used to sing and was in a band when I was 16 or 17 but I kind of left that to go and be an actor, because that was the thing that I wanted to do, and I was 15 when I did my first TV. So a Tony would be my thing but I would not say no to an Oscar mind you! But as long as I keep working and doing a variety of varied work, I am happy as long as I am paying the bills, and as I am getting older, the parts are becoming more interesting.
With your acting, I guess you must have read a lot of scripts, so do you have a passion for reading.
The thing is with me, I do, but because everything I read is fiction more or less, so for me to read a fiction book, it’s a bit like a ‘busman’s holiday’, so I’m drawn more to historical books and factual books. If I am going to read anything, it will be biography’s or historical books. I normally stay away from novels, but I will still read the odd one.
What is the best book you have read, and why is that?
There’s a few! The most entertaining books for me were, The Moons a Balloon and Bring on the Empty Horses by David Niven, who I loved as an actor. They are all about his life and Hollywood, and his adventures with Errol Flynn. If you were to read those two, alongside Erroll Flynn’s book My Wicked, Wicked Ways, they kind of cross paths with the same stories. Niven is such a raconteur, and a wit, and he tells the stories with such enthusiasm, whereas with Errol Flynn, he was a bit of a Tom Pepper, in that he exaggerates with certain things. For entertainment value, they are great companions all the three books together, as they are both my heroes, Errol Flynn and David Niven. I am not sure if they are still in print now though!
By reading the biographies of certain actors, I guess can you relate to them more, with you being an actor also?
Yes I can, kind of! You can relate to a lot of the stories, having gone through some of them myself, and I find that entertaining.
What are you currently reading at the moment, or have just finished?
It’s an old book that was lent to me, and (I think) it’s called Chronicles, although I am not sure if that is the correct title. It is a factual book of battles through history. It's eye witness accounts of battles from the ancient Greeks, to Vietnam. It has 1066, Trafalgar, the Somme, all epic battles though history, and if you were to name any battle in history, it would be in there. It is quite gory though. I’ve also been reading The Nazi’s - A Listening History, it’s a companion to the TV series that was shown recently. I am really into World War 1 and World War 2 and that kind of history. I have also just read The Voices, which is about sailors, soldiers and pilots that recounted stories from World War 2.
In the next 12 months, what does the future hold for you, Mark Moraghan?
It’s really difficult to plan that far ahead but I’ve got a couple of things. One is a live show about Liverpool Football Club called You’re Never Walk Alone. It sounds like it will be quite boring to watch, if you are a non-football fan, but it’s actually very entertaining. It’s full of music, comedy, and tells the history of Liverpool Football Club from 1892, to the present day with Brendan Rodgers. There are lots of match footage, and all the key historical moments in history. We’ve just done it at Liverpool Football Club, and then in Dublin recently and it’s going down a storm. At Liverpool Football Club, it was all shown on a big screen behind the Shankley Gates. We are performing it again at the Echo Arena in Liverpool in August, then we go to Belfast.
I’m about to complete a World War 2 film called Allies, which is based on a true story. I play a Colonel Slade, who is loosely based on Lord Lovett, who was the head of the Commandos during D-Day in Normandy. I’ve just got a few more days filming to shoot of that before it’s finished, and I am really looking forward to the battle scenes.
Due out soon is a film I completed recently, it's called Amar Akbar & Tony. It’s a real coming of age film in the style of East is East.
I will also be doing pantomime at the Assembly Hall in Tonbridge Wells this Christmas. I am playing Captain Hook, which has been one of my ambitions since I was 7 or 8 years old, from when I played Peter Pan. So I get to play Captain Hook finally, and that’s something I am really looking forward to.
What advice would you give to you fans about why it is important to read, and has it helped you with your career?
For me thankfully, I was taught to read at an early age, and I found that there was something magical in books. I think one of the first books I read as a child, was Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. It just opened my imagination to the world of books. There is nothing better than a book to make up and use your imagination. You often see the film of a book, and it never lives up to your imagination, through having read the book. From then, I read a book called Ivanhoe which made me want to become an actor. It was reading this book and then watching the film starring Robert Taylor, that made me want to wear a suit of armor, ride a horse and swing a sword. So the book, and the film along with all the pageantry, and Technicolor's, had a major influence on me wanting to become an actor.
Did you ever get to play Ivanhoe or anything similar?
Well that’s a funny story, as I had an audition at the BBC to play Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, who was the baddie. I even took a crash course in horse riding lessons over 4 weeks, also learning how to carry a shield, swing a sword and jump over jumps. I even grew a beard, and went to the audition dressed all in black. Basically I sold my soul for this part, and they were impressed with all the pre-training I did for the role. However, they heard my Liverpool accent, and just presumed I could not get rid of the accent, so did not even allow me to do the reading! This couldn't have been further from the truth, because if they did, I think I may have impressed them. So from that day to this, I have never sold my soul for a job, if you get it, you get it, if not, you just walk away and try again. I was overly keen and I tried too hard for that one, but it was all to do with Ivanhoe. So you never know, as even with my role in Allies, I am running around with machine guns and jumping in jeeps and tanks, I never thought I would get to that either, so you never know.
If you could be an animal, what would it be and why?
Well I love primates, so I would probably like to be a chimpanzee. I’ve just always had a thing about chimpanzees. My granddad hated them and just thought they were bad luck or something, A chimpanzee would be my choice of an ideal animal. I just think they are very intelligent creatures, and are just great fun to watch, I could watch them all day.
Thanks for doing this Mark, it’s been a privilege speaking to you, and all the best for the future.
It’s a pleasure, and I think you are doing a great thing, and if it encourages more people to read, then all well and good. I’m just happy to be able to contribute, and hopefully people will go out and read the books I mentioned.