…BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK!
NAME: Peter Paul Wyngarde
BIRTHDAY: August 23rd, 1933
STAR SIGN: Leo/Virgo cusp
PLACE OF BIRTH: Marseilles, France
MARITAL STATUS: Divorced
FAMILY: Two brothers and a sister
HEIGHT: 5ft, 11in
WEIGHT: 11 Stones, 5 pounds
COLOUR OF HAIR: Brown
COLOUR OF EYES: Blue
EDUCATION: Studied law at Oxford University
PREVIOUS OCCUPATION: Worked in an advertising agency
QUESTION: What’s your favourite book?
PETER: ‘Brideshead Revisited’ by Evelyn Waugh
QUESTION: What’s your favourite TV programme?
PETER: ‘Inspector Montalbano’, ‘Seinfeld’, ‘True Crime’
QUESTION: What is your favourite film?
PETER: ‘The Thief of Baghdad’ – the Alex Korda version
QUESTION: Who is your favourite poet?
PETER: W.H. Auden
QUESTION: What is your favourite animal?
QUESTION: What’s your favourite colour?
PETER: Azure Blue
QUESTION: What’s your favourite food?
PETER: Fresh fish, salad and anything healthy
QUESTION: What’s your favourite drink?
PETER: Paw Paw juice
QUESTION: Do you support a football team?
PETER: I used to be a mascot at Stamford Bridge, so it would have to be Chelsea
QUESTION: A mascot at Stamford Bridge?
PETER: I’d be invited down there for home games, so I knew all the players and ex-players. I became a bit of a good luck charm, so they called me their “Mascot”.
QUESTION: What items would you put in a time capsule to tell future generations that you’d been here?
PETER: All my faithful fans (Crawler!).
QUESTION: What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a fan?
PETER: I once had a request from the widow of a RAF officer to dress up in her dead husband’s uniform (a photo’ of him in the uniform accompanied it). There were also several others which I don’t mention…!
QUESTION: You said in a 1972 interview with the Daily express that you expected people to forget about Jason King once the series had come to an end. What then do you think of the fact that so many people around the world still love the character so many years on?
QUESTION: Have you ever used your acting ability to get yourself out of a sticky situation?
PETER: Yes – when I was almost mugged by two youths. I turned to them and went into a karate position, and started shouting at the top height of my voice, as threateningly as I was able: “Do you know who I am?”
“No mate. Who?”
They looked at each other before the older of the two said: “Sorry Jason. We didn’t know it was you! Sorry!” And they ran off.
I think I was more surprised than they were, and to this day I can’t think what came over me. Perhaps it was because it was very dark and I couldn’t tell how old they were, which was probably about 14 or 15!!!
QUESTION: What do you consider to be the best moment in your acting career?
PETER: When the director of the famous Old Vic asked me to do a season there.
QUESTION: I know it’s become a bit of a cliché, but do you remember what you were doing on the day John F. Kennedy was shot?
PETER: Yes. I was watching a play at the Globe Theatre in London’s Shaftsbury Avenue. It was during the interval that the buzz went around. I was with another actor friend, and we cried like babies, hoping it wasn’t true!
QUESTION: Does it ever upset you that, in spite of playing so many wonderful parts throughout your career, many people still only associate you with Jason King?
QUESTION: Why does being remembered primarily as Jason King upset you?
PETER: Because I’ve done so much other work, which most people tend to ignore. I’d like to think that I’ll be remembered as more than just a one trick pony.
QUESTION: If you had a time machine, what era would you most like to visit?
PETER: The millennium after the next one!
QUESTION: If your life story was ever put onto film, which actor would you most like to play you?
PETER: Someone from the millennium after the next one!
QUESTION: Is there any part on stage or screen that you’d still like to play?
PETER: Iago in ‘Othello’, or perhaps ‘Richard III’
QUESTION: What is the most dangerous thing ever to have happened to you on stage?
PETER: Shouting at a woman in the audience in Washington DC who kept rattling her gold and diamond bracelets throughout my speeches in ‘Duel of Angels’, only to discover at the reception afterwards that she was the President’s wife! If it had been General Pinochet’s wife in South America, I probably would have faced a firing squad! As it was, I couldn’t understand why the audience didn’t approve of my attack as her behaviour must have annoyed them too. Unfortunately, it seemed that they’d not come to see the play, or even Vivien Leigh for that matter, but just to watch Jacky Kennedy shake her diamonds!!!
QUESTION: Was it difficult for you to take the lead role in ‘The King and I’ with it being so closely associated with Yul Brynner at the time?
PETER: To begin with, I couldn’t learn a line without hearing him saying it. But after doing some research (and staying at the King’s birthplace by kind invitation of his grandson), I found a way of getting over it as he was, of course, a completely different kind of king from the one played by Brynner. It was particularly difficult for me because I’d been a great fan of Brynner ever since I saw him in a musical at the Winter Garden in London when he had a full head of hair.
QUESTION: What do you think now that your LP has been re-issued on CD, and the controversy over the song ‘Rape’?
PETER: Total pusillanimous attitude of the producers! Apparently, Alan McGuire heard from a friend that the Daily Mail would slate it because of ‘Rape’ not being ‘politically correct’ in their tiny-minded, unimaginative opinion. Hope you’ve all bought it!
QUESTION: What is your idea of absolute sophistication?
PETER: To be, but not seem to be.
QUESTION: Do you believe that the English gentleman still has a place in the modern world?
PETER: No more, nor less, than the House of Lords.
QUESTION: Who, in your opinion, is or was the quintessential English gentleman?
PETER: My father, in real life, who was always kind, courteous, well-mannered to everyone, especially those who annoyed him, because he had a wicked sense of humour. David Niven, who had all these qualities. I suspect Leslie Howard and Ronald Coleman. Alas, all of a different age. Today, we see glimpses in the fictional characters on television, like Steed in the Avengers and of course Jason King!
QUESTION: And the quintessential lady?
PETER: Lady Cunard; the former Lady Olivier (Vivien Leigh); the Duchess of Devonshire; Dame Edith Evans. Alas all gone too. Occasionally on television: Emma Peel, Joanna Lumley, and repeats of anything with Audrey Hepburn and her namesake, Katherine.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the way young people attire themselves these days?
PETER: The young have always been the last to appreciate youth, or its foibles.
QUESTION: Should acts of common courtesy towards the ladies be discarded as the chauvinistic ephemera of a bygone age?
PETER: Most certainly. When practiced today it seems to be seen by women of a certain class as a weakness, who never show their appreciation except with an occasional embarrassed grunt, or push you aside with their huge shoulder bags as they fly through the door you’ve been stupid enough to open for them.
QUESTION: Are there any aspects of contemporary life which suggest that progress is not always necessarily a good thing?
PETER: Those who haven’t the guts to admit they’re wrong when it affects so-called progress. Like this absurd snobbery for the fastest and most expensive cars. A sure sign of impotence in men (penis envy) and in women, not getting it (substitute 4x4s, another form of penis envy).
QUESTION: What items of clothing do you consider to be the height of vulgarity?
PETER: Wearing trainers with evening dress, or jodhpurs at Ascot, except when riding a horse. Wearing drag when taking a bath, or someone else’s when taking a shower.
QUESTION: Is there any kind of facial hair that you feel is acceptable in today’s world?
PETER: All that help to make a dull or shapeless face altogether more pleasing to look at, not including women who grow moustaches or beards, willy nilly.
QUESTION: Which of your daily tasks would you prefer to be carried out by a servant?
PETER: All those I find repetitively tedious, like shaving, and spending hours in the bathroom on personal maintenance. Above all doing my exercises for me, making me feel so much better than when I do them myself.
QUESTION: What vices, if any, do you believe are conducive to beauty of mind and elevation of the soul?
PETER: Most, I’m glad to say, except excess.
QUESTION: What is your greatest ambition?
PETER: To be a better person.
QUESTION: Which person of our time do you most admire?
PETER: The Italian film director, Luchion Visconti. His film ‘Death in Venice’ is a feast for the eyes.
QUESTION: What does happiness mean to you?
PETER: To lie on a beach in the sunshine, being lazy. Not to hear anything about wars or crime, and to wait for a lovely evening.
QUESTION: What makes you unhappy?
PETER: Physical and mental pain. Humiliation. Human misery.
QUESTION: Are there any experiences in your life that you’d have rather missed?
PETER: None at all. Every experience – even a bad one, has its advantages.
QUESTION: What do you consider to be your greatest talent?
PETER: Energy and concentration.
QUESTION: What about faults?
PETER: I’m too impatient and easily hurt.
QUESTION: What quality do you most appreciate in a woman?
PETER: Humour. If a woman can’t laugh, she’d get on my nerves!
QUESTION: What’s the most unusual gift you’ve ever been given by a fan?
PETER: A return air ticket to California.
Question: Did you use the ticket?
PETER: It was given to me by Sammy Davis Jr, who was a huge fan. No, I didn’t use it.
QUESTION: If you won the Lottery, what would be the first thing you’d buy?
PETER: A round-the-world air ticket
QUESTION: If you were to get stuck in a lift with one of the characters you’ve played, who would you most want it to be?
PETER: Either Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Sir Roger Casement
QUESTION: Do you have a favourite Beatles song?
QUESTION: If you had the opportunity to remake any of your films (no expense spared), what would it be?
PETER: ‘The Siege of Sidney Street’
Question: Why The Siege of Sidney Street?
PETER: Because I’d like to see some proper money put into it, as it’s a really good story.
QUESTION: Can you play a musical instrument?
PETER: Yes. Piano and violin.
QUESTION: Which sports do you enjoy playing?
PETER: Fencing, tennis, pistol shooting (targets) and clay pigeon shooting.
QUESTION: What sports do you like to watch?
PETER: Formula 1 racing, boxing and tennis.
QUESTION: Which sports would you like to excel at?
PETER: Darts, snooker and archery
QUESTION: Have you ever seen a ghost?
PETER: Yes, several.
QUESTION: If you were a contestant on ‘Mastermind’, what would your specialist subject be?
PETER: Theatre and films.
QUESTION: What was your most memorable moment in the theatre?
PETER: The opening night of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ at the Bristol Old Vic in May, 1959
Fans Comments:Patrick Nash Excellent as always but shame there were no follow up questions to some of the answers such as: Did PW use that return ticket to California?? Why did he choose Sidney street to be remade?? Mascot as Stamford Bridge??? Why would being remembered primarily as Jason King sometimes upset you???Reply: Hi Patrick! I’ve spoken to PETER and have revised the Q&A on the Blog to include the additional questions and answers. He was quite surprised that someone might not understand why he could get a upset by people who only ever see him as Jason King. Given that he’s been in over 250 TV and stage plays, plus several films, he felt that the answer spoke for itself. Nevertheless, he was happy to clarify it.
Hope this helps.
TinaDiane Brierley FANTASTIC!! I really enjoyed reading that! Thanks Peter and Tina XXXAndrew Humphrey That’s an interesting nugget about him studying law at Oxford. Did he abandon his studies for the theatre?Reply: Hi Andrew! He was only there a few months, as he left to join an advertising agency in London. During his luch break, he saw a queue of people outside the Hippodrome Theatre near Leicester Square and asked what they were waiting for. When they told him they were going for an audition for a play in Brighton, he joined the line, read for the part and was given the job as Understudy for the lead. Tina
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