BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

29 October 2014
Press Office
Search the BBC and Web
Search BBC Press Office

BBC Homepage

Contact Us


Ian Puleston-Davies as Shirley Woolf


Starts this autumn on BBC THREE


Ian Puleston-Davies plays Shirley Woolf


Comes from: Flint in North Wales.

What's he been in before? BBC THREE drama Conviction.

Did you know? Ian wrote the ITV drama Dirty Filthy Love based on his own experiences of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


Ian Puleston-Davies always seems to end up playing the bad guy - and Funland is no exception, as he takes on the role of Shirley Woolf, a reformed sex addict and a small-time Blackpool gangster.


"I have played some pretty horrible characters over the years," laughs Ian.


"I have played a few paedophiles and I was starting to think that I was listed under P for paedophile not Puleston-Davies!


"In Funland I play Shirley Woolf, who is a very mixed-up character. He's a very troubled man with a troubled, aggressive mind."


Shirley is caught in the middle of two formidable women, his wife Connie and his mother Mercy.


He is struggling to juggle the roles of loving family man and Blackpool hard man.


"He's trying his best to be the perfect husband and father," explains Ian. "But Shirley has had such a dysfunctional upbringing that I think he's incapable of feeling true love.


"He's addicted to sex and has been known to shag around, but he's trying to make out to Connie that all that is behind him and I think he genuinely does want to make a go of his marriage."


Shirley does try but his resolve is short-lived when the enigmatic lapdancer Vienna works her magic - and Mercy knows her son only too well and uses his weakness for her own gain.


"The relationship between Mercy and Shirley is very complex," says Ian.


"She is manipulative but she's not just doing it to be controlling. I think she is a very terrified soul as well – she needs her son and in fact they need each other. But Shirley is a puppet; he's completely controlled by Mercy.


"I think he's different to a lot of the other gangsters that you see in TV shows like The Sopranos, because for them it is just a day job and they can switch off and go home to their families - but for Shirley it's more complex than that because the lines are blurred."


Shirley is the hard man of Blackpool but this reputation is questioned when Carter arrives on the scene. Played by newcomer Daniel Mays, Carter arrives in Blackpool to avenge the death of his mother.


Carter doesn't know who to trust when he arrives in Blackpool but he finds himself entangled with the Woolf family, playing Shirley and Mercy off against each other.


When he notices distinct similarities between Shirley's tattoo and the mystery key that his mother gave him before she died, his suspicion increases.


"The relationship between Shirley and Carter is brilliant. We have this hugely suspicious, distrustful relationship. Shirley is curious about this kid who has been washed up on the shores of Blackpool and is asking too many questions.


"Normally Shirley would just knock this kid off, but he's compelled not to - something mysterious stops him. In normal situations he would be in the back of the boot and buried in concrete but for some reason he's not."


When he's not appearing in front of the camera, Ian is busy writing scripts of his own and earlier this year he had his first success.


Dirty Filthy Love is a largely autobiographical story, mirroring Ian's own struggle to deal with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


"It all exploded overnight, really. Dirty Filthy Love was such a personal story played out so brilliantly by Michael Sheen. A lot of my friends, when they watched it, said they could see aspects of me in Michael's portrayal - but it took me a few screenings before I could start watching the things on screen that were lifted directly from my own experiences."


Ian's next script is also based on personal experience, but of a very different kind.


"I'm working on something at the moment about two misfit farmer's sons. It's set in North Wales, where I come from, and the backdrop is the predicament of small farmers - because, as a farmer's son myself, the plight of small farming is something that's very close to me."


Ian is also working on another script with Jeff Pope with whom he co-wrote Dirty Filthy Love, and also on a comedy with his girlfriend Sue. And on the acting side he has just started filming a new drama with David Jason.


"I've suddenly become very busy on the acting side at the same time that my writing career has taken off. Sometimes it's difficult to find time for both but I'm certainly not complaining!" says Ian proudly.


"I think I've had the longest acting apprenticeship of anyone I know - and with the writing I'm still in my honeymoon period really, but I'm loving every minute."


Being an actor and a writer can be difficult at times and Ian has had cause to question the scripts for some of the roles he's played, but on Funland he has nothing but praise for the writers.


"I think Simon and Jeremy have really rolled up their sleeves on this: there is so much attention to detail. Sometimes, when I play a role, I find that my writer's head has to take a backseat - but on this both my writer's head and my actor's head have been nodding!"


And although Shirley Woolf isn't the nicest character in the world, there are some parts of him that Ian envies.


"Shirley drives a Rolls Royce Corniche and so I have spent many hours driving along the promenade in Blackpool dressed in a gold lamé suit and driving a Corniche. It's every actor's dream!"


< previous section next section >
Printable version top^

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy