Breaking through in the UK TV industry is no easy thing. Often it’s only after years of toiling away with guest appearances that actors find their star suddenly rising. One such rising star is Marcus Garvey.
The actor, who studied Theatre Acting at Bretton Hall, stars in the CBBC series Wolfblood, which was recently nominated for a number of Kids BAFTA’s (winning one), and has landed main roles on two recent comedy series: You, Me and Them, which was the first original scripted comedy series for UKTV’s Gold channel; and Pat & Cabbage, an ITV comedy which starred Cherie Lunghi and Barbara Flynn.
Earlier this year, Marcus also appeared in a guest role on ITV’s drama series Broadchurch and more recently he filmed an appearance on the second season of BBC One’s hit romantic drama Last Tango In Halifax. Marcus was kind enough to spare some time to talk to TVWise about Pat & Cabbage, working with Buffy alum Anthony Head, his role on Last Tango and much more.
TVWise: How did you get started in acting?
Marcus Garvey: I got interested in acting at high school, in school plays and so on. Then I studied Drama at 6th form and Theatre Acting at Bretton Hall University. And when I say “Studied”, I mean I pretended to study, which is in itself a form of acting. After Uni, I worked for a Theatre in Education company for about five years, then moved to London to try to make a “proper” go of it. I found the streets were not paved with gold. They were paved with the faded dreams of millions of other actors. After doing several day jobs for several years, I was lucky enough to land a job which paid enough for me to take a year off and do nothing but pursue my acting career. That’s when things seemed to turn around.
TVWise: You quite recently filmed a lead role on Gold’s first original comedy You, Me and Them alongside the likes of Eve Myles and Anthony Head. I understand you’re quite the Buffy fan so that must have been a treat, what was it like working alongside Anthony?
Marcus Garvey: It was great working with Anthony and Eve. And a little bit crackers. Obviously, Buffy ran for seven years so I’ve had seven years of looking at Anthony’s face and seeing Giles. To find myself going to read-throughs, rehearsing and acting with him was bizarre. But the best thing was to find that he was a very decent, humble and cool individual. Likewise, to work with Eve who carried Torchwood on her shoulders for so many years, you might feel intimidated by actors of that quality, and yet on set she was so lovely and daft.
TVWise: Before that you had another lead role on ITV’s Pat & Cabbage, which starred Barbara Flynn, Cherie Lunghi and, amongst others, Rosie Cavaliero. How was it getting to work alongside such talented actors?
Marcus Garvey: It was, (like You Me And Them), an absolute joy. Working with folk like Cherie and Barbara is fascinating. I’m still relatively new to TV, and here I am sharing the screen with people who’ve done stuff like The Beiderbecke Affair and The Mission! No pressure, then. They were so lovely, however, that there actually was no pressure. Then on top of that I had lots of scenes with Rosie Cavaliero, Diane Morgan and Tom “The Body” Turner. We laughed a lot.
TVWise: Pat & Cabbage was interesting as it came at time when ITV was – after being largely absent for a number of years – re-entering the world of scripted comedy and were looking for something to click with their audience. Was that something that you and the rest of cast were aware of during production or was it a case of “let’s just do the best job we possibly can”?
Marcus Garvey: I can’t speak for the others, but it was not something I was aware of, but then again, I’m barely aware of what day of the week it is. I think as an actor if you go into a job with one eye on viewing figures or what the channel has riding on the show then you’re thinking about the wrong thing. When I’m on set, I’m thinking about doing the best I possibly can. Or lunch. Unless, of course, I’m on set with Rosie Cavaliero, Diane Morgan and Tom “The Six-Pack” Turner. Then I’m trying to act while simultaneously not looking at their ridiculous faces.
TVWise: Do you think we’ll be seeing additional series of either You, Me and Them or Pat & Cabbage? Would you be up for returning?
Marcus Garvey: Would I be up for returning? Are you serious?! I’ve had the best year working with the loveliest people! I’m fully aware of how lucky I am to be doing what I consider to be the best job in the world. Not only is any work hard to come by these days, but quality acting work in the current climate of talent and reality shows? I have properly fallen on my feet.
A number of actors tend to largely stick to one genre; either comedy or drama, with some rare crossover. Looking at your CV the work you’ve done has largely been on the comedy side, but you did film a guest role on Broadchurch. Does a drama have to have a certain something for you to go after the role?
Marcus Garvey: Not at all. You want every role to have that certain something, not just dramas. I had no idea how enormous Broadchurch was going to be, I was just chuffed to be working on a gritty drama for a change. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing comedy, and I’m thrilled that I actually get paid for trying to make people laugh, but its brilliant to get the opportunity to do both.
TVWise: You recently filmed a guest appearance on Last Tango In Halifax, what can you tell us about that role?
Marcus Garvey: I play the part of Greg, an old friend of Kate, (Nina Sosanya’s character), who she would like to be the biological father of her child. In the character breakdown it said something like “…he should be the kind of person who’s inoffensive if you know him. He likes the sound of his own voice…” it’s like it was written just for me!
TVWise: I understand your mum is a big fan of the show, did that have any influence on you taking the part?
Marcus Garvey: Being offered a part on something as brilliant as Last Tango is a no-brainer, so the fact that my mum and my dad love the show didn’t influence me, but it’s an added bonus. I haven’t told them I’m in it yet, I want to surprise them. They’re both very supportive of everything I do, so in a way I want it to be like a little treat for them. I can’t wait to see their reaction when I pop up on screen!
TVWise: 2013 has been a good year for you. Two series regular roles on comedy series’ and of course your continuing role on CBBC’s Wolfblood, which was recently nominated for a number of Kids BAFTA’s and has been recommissioned. How do you think next year will treat you? Are there any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
Marcus Garvey: I’ve no idea how next year will treat me. To be honest, 2013 is going to be hard to top. I just hope I can go on working and meeting the kind of fantastic people I’ve met this year. As for upcoming projects, I’m engaged to marry the funniest, most brilliant woman in the world. That should keep me busy.
Marcus will appear in Last Tango In Halifax on BBC One on Tuesday December 10th at 9pm. For more from Marcus, follow him on Twitter at @MarcusGarvey76.