|The Gentle Hook|
You can see The Gentle Hook at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage from 11 - 16 October, 2004.
Box Office: 08700 131 030
He’s been in all kinds of cult TV series from 'Doctor Who' and 'Upstairs Downstairs', 'Minder' and 'EastEnders', where he was famously a prime suspect for the shooting of Phil Mitchell.
But Gareth Hunt is probably best known for playing Mike Gambit in the hugely popular seventies TV series The New Avengers.
And while he thrilled us all in this tongue-in-cheek, cult British action-adventure, he is now entertaining audiences everywhere with his role in a chilling murder mystery.
Francis Durbridge’s 'The Gentle Hook' is currently touring the UK and arrives at the Gordon Craig Theatre this month. We caught up with Gareth to find out what it was all about, but as he explains, because it’s a murder mystery that will have you in suspense until its’ shocking climax, to tell us too much would only spoil it!
"It’s a bit difficult to explain without revealing the plot" he says. "But it’s a ‘thriller’!"
"It basically deals with a husband and wife and the death of another character and the story slowly unravels itself throughout the evening.
"It’s a ‘whodunnit’ and it will definitely make you jump at the end!" he adds.
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Gareth plays the husband of sophisticated and highly successful businesswoman Stacey Harrison, who seems to get involved in complicated and mystifying situations.
Shortly after her return from a slightly questionable trip abroad she is attacked by a strange man and in the ensuing struggle kills him.
Stacey is also seeking a divorce from her husband for reasons that seem unclear and this only adds to the mystery.
"I am playing her husband who is a barrister. They may be getting a divorce but whether or not they are is never made clear" says Gareth.
"He’s a bit of a pain in the butt I suppose. He obviously thinks that he is still in the courtroom and is a bit difficult to live with."
And while Gareth promises a story full of dark plots, conspiracy and murder with plenty of twists and turns to keep you all on the edge of your seats, there are a few unexpected laughs there too.
"It’s not a comedy but there are comic elements in it" he explains.
"There are some laughs in it which have taken us by surprise but I guess every tragedy is a comedy."
Audiences certainly seem to be enjoying the production which shows the continuing popularity of murder mystery on the stage in this country. Gareth agrees that people like a bit of a thriller and points out a great precedent.
"Yes - judging by The Mousetrap (the Agatha Christie thriller now in its 52nd year in the West End) "I think that will run" he jokes.
"Everybody loves a good murder mystery and I hope that everyone will enjoy this one."
|"It’s a great cast and well worth an evening out."|
"It’s real theatre with live people and you can’t beat live theatre. It’s a great cast and well worth an evening out."
That ‘great cast’ cast led by London’s Burning’s Glen Murphy, veteran film and stage actor George Sewell, Tony Scannell from The Bill, Robert Beck (Emmerdale) and Deborah Hunt (Bergerac).
His fellow cast have all been involved in hugely popular programmes, but of course, when you’ve starred in something like The New Avengers, whatever Gareth does now, people will always still bring that up. Like me, for instance!
However, Gareth doesn’t seem to mind, and knows that with all the TV channels showing repeats at the moment, he is bound to be remembered. All over the world as it happens!
"Your TV is in the front room 24/7 and whoever is on it remains current if they repeat shows" he says.
"I’ve recently been getting lots of fan mail from Germany because they’ve been showing The New Avengers over there" he laughs.
"And they probably get a bit of a shock when I send them a photo of me now because I look a bit different from Mike Gambit.
"But it’s the nature of the beast" he continues.
|Gareth Hunt with Steve McFadden in EastEnders|
"I was lucky in that many of the programmes that I did were sold round the world. But the trouble is, sometimes you forget how long ago it actually was that you were in them!"
But despite, being in some top TV shows, Gareth’s favourite anecdote in a long career involves pantomime of all things, and a certain popular Scouse entertainer!
"It involved Cilla Black" he says.
"I was playing Abanazaar and she was Aladdin in Liverpool. She shouted out to the audience, ‘Shall I kill him’ and someone in the audience shouted back ‘Yes - sing to him Cilla!’. It was so funny - we kept it in after that!"
Gareth also caused a bit of a stir when he joined the cast of EastEnders for a couple of episodes in 2001. And he attracted a lot of media attention weeks before he appeared on the screen!
It was around the time of the ‘Who shot Phil Mitchell?’ storyline and at one stage Gareth’s character Ritchie Stringer was 10/3 at Ladbrokes to be the culprit!
"Yes - it was all quite strange" he says. "I had to do morning TV and everything, so I think it was actually very clever to create all that speculation and get publicity for the show.
"A mate actually phoned me up and asked me if I’d shot him because he was going to put a few grand on me, if I had!
"I told him I didn’t know and to be honest I still don’t know who shot him because I don’t watch it!"
He’s appeared on screen and on the stage but says that while he enjoys all media, he doesn’t like doing one of them for too long at a time.
However, he is a bit despairing over the direction that television seems to be going in at the moment, but is hopeful that we will get great TV series again.
"I’m not quite sure which way TV is going at the moment" he reveals.
"I’m not overly struck by the amount of reality TV there is, when there’s so much talent in this country.
"I know you have to start somewhere, but it’s not fair to use somebody for something who is clearly completely out of their depth."
"Also I don’t like the way they use them [reality TV stars] to take the mickey out of them" he continues.
"You get people who are clearly not going to be a star, and while I appreciate they have been given their moment of glory, you’ve had a good laugh at them at the same time.
"It’s just cheap telly. The public don’t necessarily get what they want, they just get what they are given. It’s decided for them.
"I’ve been very lucky I’ve had some great series in this country and hopefully TV will make some more again, with a bit more substance than how many ways you can fry an egg! I hope they will make some series like Upstairs Downstairs again."
So what advice, does he have for all those people starting out?
"The most difficult thing is trying to keep your feet and your brain on the ground" he says.
"But remember to be nice to everybody because on your way down you never know who will give you a kick up the butt!"