Will Howard (Dan Hebden Lloyd)


Up to now, Dan Hebden Lloyd has been on track for a law degree and a career as a solicitor, like his father and grandfather. But tonight he announced that he wants to join the Army.

Will Howard has played the part of Dan for six months, since the character returned from working at a summer camp in America. Will has been doing some travelling of his own, having this morning returned from Thailand and Singapore. Despite not having slept for 40 hours, he gamely spoke to me about his career and playing Dan.

Will is no stranger to radio drama, having worked for eight months on the BBC Radio Drama Company (known as ‘the Rep’). He’s lost count of the number of radio plays he’s been in, although it’s north of 50.

“The great thing about being on the Rep is that you get to play parts you’d never play in the theatre or TV, because of how you look. So I’ve played big burly blokes, Asian characters, black characters, 13 year olds and 35 year olds... And you haven’t got any choice. You can’t ring your agent up and say I’m not sure if I’m right for this. So it’s an exciting way of developing your skills and building your confidence in your voice.”

Although born in Warrington, Will grew up in the Far East. In fact, his elder brother still lives in Singapore, hence the visit. So he hadn’t come across much radio drama until he decided to make a career as an actor. He took a long time to admit to himself that he wanted to do this professionally. “It was like, if I didn’t actually say I wanted to be an actor, then I couldn’t fail at it.”

But when he studied drama at Exeter University, he became strangely jealous as his peers started to apply to drama schools. In the end he sent four applications on the last possible day – and then had to race between London, Bristol, Guilford and Cardiff for four auditions in two days.

Cardiff won, and he trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, which fortunately for his future career has a strong radio drama programme. “I love radio drama. It’s a very intimate medium. It allows the audience to paint most of the visual picture themselves. I suppose each person has their own unique experience of it, like reading a novel.”

Playing Dan

When Will took on the part of Dan, he was concerned that his own background in the Far East was so different from the rural English world of Ambridge. “But I soon realised that it’s much more about whether you can identify with the feelings of the character, and what motivates them.

“It’s fantastic working on The Archers, because you can build the character over a very long time. Something you’re performing now might be informed by something you did months ago. That’s very rare.”

In a strange way, Will’s own choice of career has helped him understand why Dan has made the choice he has. “I’d hate to be one of those blokes who sits in a pub at the age of 40 and says I could have done this or I could have done that, and I think Dan feels the same way. He’s had his life all mapped out for him – school, A-levels, degree, safe career as a solicitor – and it’s I think it’s actually quite brave to not do what everyone expects you to do. I think it was going to America that allowed him to look at his life in Ambridge a bit more objectively.

“And although I’d never have thought of joining the Army myself, reading the background notes and researching army recruitment has made me realise why it would appeal to someone like Dan. He’s very outdoor, with his riding and so on. And let’s face it, most 19 year-olds want a bit of adventure in their lives.”

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

Learn more about Will - and Dan - in our Who's Who
BBC Radio Drama Company
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama


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  • Comment number 20. Posted by Louise

    on 13 Apr 2014 09:36

    Having been a life long follower of the Archers, I am appalled at the 'attitude' shown, regarding 'Daniel's selection to Sandhurst.
    Who is responsible for the script writing? Keri Davies? If so. Keri Davies, you should be ashamed of yourself. You have Shula 'expecting more' from her so called 'bright' son and her attitude is an insult to all mothers of British servicemen and women.
    We are extremely fortunate in this country, to have such a dedicated 'Force', operating under extremely stressful circumstances, away from their homes and families much more frequently than in the past, both on active duty and training.
    And, just for the record, Shula or Keri, I VERY much doubt 'Daniel' would have been selected having had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. And as someone has also previously said, we are returning from Afghanistan at the end of the year.
    Just for the record Keri, quite a few of these guys have First Class degrees in Politics, Post Grad degrees in International relations, 2 of my sons included, also Iraq and multiple Afghan tours under their belts.
    And Shula finds a Law degree more suitable and interesting?
    It's not often that I react to 'Radio Stories' but this one has left me very cross, and very disappointed with the BBC.
    HANG YOUR HEADS IN SHAME

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  • Comment number 19. Posted by RosieT

    on 11 Apr 2014 09:06

    I had assumed earlier, that Daniel would take the right A-levels to become a vet. Suddenly wanting to become a lawyer was a surprise, when Jim interfered in his A-level choices.

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  • Comment number 18. Posted by Dragonfly

    on 10 Apr 2014 14:07

    Dan isn't going to go off and train to be a vet because he doesn't have the right A levels, for a start. He has seen the life of a vet first hand and has probably decided he doesn't like the look of it. Also, getting into veterinary college is even more difficult than getting into medical school. It often takes several attempts. Not for the fainthearted.

    I can't see why there is angst that Dan has not come out as gay. One of the constant criticisms of The Archers under its former editor was that storylines seemed designed to tick off a long list of issues. As we already have a gay couple in the village, one of whom is an Archer by birth, and there have been several characters in the past who were undoubtedly gay, the BBC is under no pressure to introduce another one for no good reason. I hope there's a good dramatic reason for having Dan take this decision and that it is followed through. The improvement in The Archers in the last few months has been astonishing and long may it continue.

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  • Comment number 17. Posted by Lega

    on 8 Apr 2014 17:49

    As we only listen to the omnibus I thought some great drama was to be revealed - joining the army as a career hardly seems remotely dramatic - good on you Dan, not sure the law is such a good profession now.

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  • Comment number 16. Posted by Tayler Cresswell

    on 8 Apr 2014 11:36

    Hi Raymond - that's now corrected. Thanks for letting us know! : )

  • Comment number 15. Posted by JanM

    on 8 Apr 2014 00:38

    I'm really disappointed that Dan didn't do what I expected and 'come out' to his parents as gay.
    Younger role models are important too.

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  • Comment number 14. Posted by greyscorpio

    on 7 Apr 2014 17:40

    I think Dan has come back from America. a completely different person, he now sounds more aggressive, unfriendly, aloof, to Shula, and Alistair. If he wanted to work outside, why did he not decide to train as a Vet, He is used to horses, and animals. Then he could at least taken over
    Alistair's practice, in the future.

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  • Comment number 13. Posted by thelatejulia

    on 7 Apr 2014 16:45

    I really do hope this storyline is not going to be used to hammer home the BBC's campaign to remember 1914. If we have Lynda banging on about the volunteers 100 years ago it will really devalue what happened to those young men.

    On the plus side, at least Shula is upset and whittering on about her precious son. Does she think all members of the Army are not equally valued sons? No wonder he wants to get away from her.

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  • Comment number 12. Posted by Raymond

    on 7 Apr 2014 16:20

    How sad is the day when an article by the British Broadcasting Corporation can contain an American spelling instead of a British one! "traveling" should of course be "travelling". Sad and very sloppy!.

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  • Comment number 11. Posted by Peter Kay

    on 7 Apr 2014 15:09

    There are problems ahead! If he joins the army he has to leave Ambridge- he can't become expensively qualified and then lie back as an amateur wedding dress chooser in Mum's kitchen. Hope the actor's read his contract.

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