Casualty Saturdays BBC1
Name Simon MacCorkindale
Education Haileybury College, Hertfordshire, Studio 68 of Theatre Arts, London
Role Call Could easily have been typecast as an urbane hunk, but has achieved a diverse gallery of roles – from classics to soaps – in TV, film and theatre. Also a writer, director and producer who runs his own production company, Amy International, with his actress wife, Susan George
1973 Hawkeye, the Pathfinder
My first TV role, straight from drama school, was as a clean-cut young military man, Lieutenant Carter, in a dramatisation of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel about frontiersmen and North American Indians. Jan Francis was in the cast, too. I was much more a theatre person in those days, and I learnt an important TV lesson when, after speaking my first lines, the director told me: “You really don’t have to project quite so much – let the camera do part of the work for you.”
1977 Jesus of Nazareth
Director Franco Zeffirelli had asked to see a photo of me when I was at drama school – he was looking for “a young Michael York” and he later offered me the part of the centurion who finds Jesus’s tomb empty. The extraordinary cast included Robert Powell, Anne Bancroft, Laurence Olivier and, yes, Michael York. The associate producer, Dyson Lovell, was to be the casting director of Death on the Nile, so it led to my first major movie.
I had a perm for this one! I played Joe Kapp, a Jewish astronomer who teams up with Professor Quatermass [John Mills] to fight an alien force. I thought that, along with my nose, I’d look more Jewish if I had my hair permed. I certainly wanted to try to look a little different. We made a film of it soon afterwards and, happily, it led to a lifelong friendship with Johnny Mills.
I’d moved to California in 1980 and this was my first big US series. It was the most expensive show on TV at the time – we ran three units, including an animal unit. I played a professor of animal behaviour who could turn himself into any animal he wanted. It was a bit of a TV turkey then, but it later became a worldwide cult show. I’ve been amazed to find that some of the young cast of Casualty remember me because they grew up with Manimal.
1984-6 Falcon Crest
I played Greg Reardon, an English lawyer and a rather unpleasant person. It was a hugely successful show and I probably made a mistake by leaving – I wanted to concentrate on writing, directing and producing. But I loved playing opposite Jane Wyman. She and Bette Davis, who I’d worked with on Death on the Nile, were the two people who helped me most in my career. Bette had the reputation of being a virago – but she was fantastic to me and we remained friends until her death.
I’d spent a long time away in Canada and the USA, and I wanted to do more acting again, so the time was right for Casualty. And I’d just moved to Exmoor, so the Bristol location was great. Harry Harper is the new consultant, and I like him a lot – he’s a disciplinarian but pretty cool, a combination of new man and old school.