Larry Lamb: “I’d never even dreamt of being an actor”

Eastenders actor Larry Lamb talks Pitching In, writing novels and Christmas traditions...

Larry Lamb on Pitching In

by Stephanie Anthony |

Ahead of one of his latest TV series becoming available on Acorn TV (Pitching In), we grabbed a chat with actor Larry Lamb (73) to find out more about the roles he's played, career highlights and also Christmas traditions.

Best known for his roles in Eastenders, Gavin and Stacey, New Tricks and Pitching In, Larry is a familiar face on our TV screens. One of his more recent characters was salt-of-the-earth cockney Frank Hardcastle in heart-warming drama Pitching In. Frank runs The Daffodil Dunes Holiday Park, set in a picturesque Welsh coast village with a close-knit community.

"I discovered a way of life that will have really suited me," says Larry. "I got to know the family that ran the caravan site where we were filming, and I thought 'well this would have been just the way for me to have a life, I love this!'

"I love caravans anyway and the place where we filmed was wonderful, you could just walk out the end of the site and you were on this lovely wild beach. We were filming on the site and I was living on the site, and everything was perfect, absolutely perfect. I had such a great time and it was such a great job – there was some lovely scenes, I liked the character, and the character was doing a job that I could really relate to."

Here's Larry in action, alongside Caroline Sheen (Les Miserables), Hayley Mills (Wild at Heart), Craig Russell (Hollyoaks), Melanie Walters (Gavin and Stacey), Taj Atwal (Line of Duty) and Les Dennis (Coronation Street).

We asked if Larry felt he had any similarities with his character Frank.

"Similarities would be that I’m sort of an amateur handyman and that’s exactly what Frank had to be," says Larry, "He had to run this place and deal with all the people that live in it and organise things for them and be part of a community. It was just the sort of thing I would have loved to have done.

"I chose to work on Pitching In as I just liked the character. It’s like anything else, I’ve got to like the character. I could see myself in that part. You know some things you look at and you go, ‘oh no that’s not me’, but I could definitely see myself as Frank."

Larry Lamb with Hayley Mills
©Pitching In

Larry has played a number of roles over the years, nasty and nice – so does he prefer comedy or drama?

"Definitely drama, it’s easier! Comedy is like having your teeth pulled," he laughs. "I wouldn’t consider myself funny, not instinctively. Being funny off the cuff is one thing, but being able to be funny, particularly on screen, on que over and over again – that is a very special skill. And that’s not something that I find easy at all.

"I can have a laugh and a joke with anybody, but as I say, it’s high precision work, and it’s got to be delivered exactly right every time, and you may have to do it 50 or 60 times, day after day after day, and it’s really energy burning, it’s a real special skill doing comedy on screen."

With a wealth of experience, both on screen (including a part in Superman 3) and on stage, we asked if there was a particular role Larry still wanted to play:

"I’ve played so many different characters, you know, people only know me from the television but I’ve played hundreds of people on television, I’ve played many people in the theatre, I’ve had a wonderful career.

"I’ve done everything really that I want to do, I certainly don’t sit around and think ooh I’d love to play that. I’d love to play an old man who doesn’t have any lines to say at all, that’s what I’d like to play!" he laughs.

"The two characters that people know me for are Mick Shipman on Gavin and Stacey and Archie Mitchell. I loved playing those two and I was very lucky because I got to play them simultaneously. So I was playing this really lovely bloke and this really horrible bloke, sometimes on the same day. And those are the ones that people know me for.

"There’s also loads of characters that I’ve played in plays in the theatre that I’ve absolutely loved. But you’ve got to keep doing it over and over and over again, which drives you round the bend!"

Larry got into acting while he was working in the oil industry Nova Scotia, Canada, where he attended St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. There he developed his amateur interest, performing at Canada's Stratford Festival.

Larry Lamb
©Getty

"There’s so many highlights to my career, I mean I suppose the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met and that I’ve worked with. It’s difficult to pick out highlights when I’ve been so lucky and had a proper career. My career was the highlight, it came out of nowhere. I’d never even dreamt of being an actor, I just tumbled into it. Someone just said you should be an actor and took me along and introduced me to a local theatre group and all of a sudden that was the beginning of a life."

Larry has also been keeping himself busy during lockdown by developing his talents as a writer.

"I’ve written a book during the last three/four months, so that’s kept me occupied. And I’ve just started another one. So writing is really what I’m enjoying doing, and this is the perfect time to do it – no distractions at all."

As for any upcoming TV programmes we'll be seeing him in, Larry says, "There’s some non-fiction television which might well happen in the new year, where I’m going to go off somewhere in the country and live and talk to people, the sort of thing I’ve done before. I like doing that."

And with Christmas on the horizon we wanted to find out if Larry had any Christmas traditions.

"I always spend Christmas with my girls and their mum, we do the same thing every year. They open their stockings in the morning, then we sit around and have sausage sandwiches or something, then we have lunch and they open all their presents, and that’s it!"

Pitching In is streaming now exclusively on Acorn TV__.

Larry Lamb gets involved with #PledgeKindness

This World Mental Health Day we're aiming for 10,000 pledges for our #PledgeKindness campaign. Here's Larry's thoughts on kindness:

An act of kindness that happened to me…

"I lost my brother this time just a year ago and the people that were looking after him in the hospice as he gradually slipped away were so, so kind to me while I was there sleeping in the room with him. They really looked after me while I was there to be with him, all the people at the Marie Curie hospice, they were just wonderful."

Kindness is important because…

"...it makes life better for everybody."

You can make your own pledge here.

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