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Actor Todd Carty on coming back to Liverpool and keeping theatre’s biggest secret

1 year ago

Actor Todd Carty on coming back to Liverpool and keeping theatre’s biggest secret

Actor Todd Carty is a different iconic TV character to different generations – to over-50s he’s Grange Hill’s cheeky schoolboy Tucker Jenkins, to ‘90s soap fans he’s Mark Fowler in EastEnders.

“And then if they remember me from The Bill they’ll say ‘morning, murderer’ because I played a total psycho!” he laughs.

“I’m very grateful to have had three roles like that. Sometimes luck comes your way and you just try and put your best foot forward, know your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.

“But I take everything in my stride, that’s the sort of guy I am, I never take anything for granted. There are lots of promises in this business but no guarantees so you take each opportunity, clasp it in your hands and make the best of it.”

Todd Carty is about to return to Liverpool in the 70th anniversary tour of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, bringing him to the city where he has fond memories.

Although the early series of Grange Hill were filmed in London, less than 10 miles from Todd’s home, creator Phil Redmond moved it here in the early 2000s and Tucker came too.

“I was an adult then, not in short pants anymore, that wouldn’t look good! 

“I was uncle to one of the kids, Togger Jenkins, which was great fun. I did a couple of guest appearances about three or four years apart – one when he started on the first day, I brought him in my car, and then when he was having trouble deciding what exams to do and should he knuckle down. It was lovely to go back.

“I still run into Phil every now and then and he was made Freeman of Liverpool so I went to that party. He loves his connection to Grange Hill and he gave me Tucker so I’ll always thank him for that.

“At the time it completely changed my whole life. I remember Grange Hill came on screen on a Tuesday, I went to school on the train on Monday and nobody knew me, never gave me a second glance, by the time Wednesday came flipping heck – as Tucker would say – it went crazy. 

“I had to keep changing carriages for the next five or six years until I got myself a motorbike.

“Even though I started as Tucker when I was about 14, if I do a stage show or panto now I’ll get girls come up to me and say, ‘my mum used to really fancy you!’”

Fans of his past characters will have a chance to see 59-year-old Todd on stage at the Empire in a slightly older role – as Major Metcalf, one of the strangers snowed in a remote manor about to discover that a murderer is among them.

“I play a retired army major; I’m getting to an age where I’m playing slightly older gentlemen now!

“But to be part of something like the Mousetrap, on its 70th anniversary, is great for all of us. We get lots of Christie fans in the audience and they’re like Columbos, all trying to work it out – when they go for their gin and tonic or pint at half time they’re arguing in the bar as to who they think’s done it.

“I saw the play about 40 years ago in the West End and didn’t guess, and we always ask audiences not to tell anyone, and the amazing thing is they don’t.”

Liverpool Empire
The show is on now at Liverpool Empire Theatre

Fans can be trusted to keep theatre’s biggest secret, but what about Todd?

“Oh I’m constantly having to try not to say too much and give it away,” he admits. 

“My youngest son was helping me trim my beard and I was doing my lines with him. I said a few fatal lines and he went ‘dad! You just told me!’ And I thought, thank God it was my son and not anyone else, so that mistake was maybe a blessing. The secret at the moment is between me and him.

“It is very hard, though. I just keep reminding myself I can’t talk anymore or I’ll be out the door with my cards in my hand and I’ve still got five months of the tour to go!”

Watch Todd Carty as he stars in The Mousetrap at the Empire from Monday November 7 to Saturday November 12 – book tickets here.

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