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Waterloo Road actor Philip Martin Brown stars in Jack and the Beanstalk at Tunbridge Wells' Assembly Hall Theatre

After eight years in hit BBC drama Waterloo Road, Philip Martin Brown is embarking on a new path – playing Fleshcreep in Jack and the Beanstalk. And, as he told Kathryn Tye, the Paddock Wood actor is simply loving being the bad guy.

Perched at the bar of his favourite pub, Philip Martin Brown is friendly and chatty as he sups a pint.

Philip Martin Brown
Philip Martin Brown

It is a million miles away from the character he is best known for – curmudgeonly English teacher Grantly Budgen in BBC1’s Waterloo Road.

Philip was with the show from its start in 2006, but left in October this year, in a poignant storyline which saw his character succumb to liver failure.

He said: “It was my choice to go. I had a part in the movie Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and it made me think there are so many characters to play out there. It takes nine months to film 30 episodes for a series, so it is difficult to fit in other projects.

“When I first joined the show, I never thought it would still be going all this time later. But the entire family can watch it together, and it appeals to all age groups. There aren’t many programmes like that.”

He added: “Filming the exit scenes was OK, but saying goodbye to everyone was a bit emotional.”

The role was particularly special for Philip as it drew on his own experience working as a teacher, before he became an actor.

Philip Martin, far left, with the cast of the Tunbridge Wells panto
Philip Martin, far left, with the cast of the Tunbridge Wells panto

After attending school in Cumbria, he moved to London to study drama and English.

The 57-year-old said: “I was the class clown, and always in the school play, and someone said you should be an actor. It was a real lightbulb moment.

“I thought how can I do that? I lived in Barrow-in-Furness, where you went into the shipyard. But the more I thought about it, I thought this is what I’m going to do.

“My parents supported me, but because acting was a precarious career, they persuaded me to qualify as a teacher as well.”

Philip never had to work as a full-time teacher, however, as he was spotted at university by a director, and landed his first TV gig, aged just 22, in hit historical drama A Horseman Riding By.

Philip Martin Brown as Fleshcreep
Philip Martin Brown as Fleshcreep

But there were still some lean patches when Philip worked as a drama and English supply teacher, including at Mascalls in his home town of Paddock Wood during the mid-2000s.

He said: “I enjoyed teaching, as there is a certain amount of acting required to hold the attention, and it is very gratifying to help people. I definitely brought some of my teaching experience to Waterloo Road.

"I remember in one scene we were filming there was supposed to be a fire alarm and some of the kids were talking. I pointed out that there had to be complete silence during a drill.

“And not allowing bags on the tables is something I used to do at Mascalls.”

And now Philip is going to be drawing on his experience working with young people in a new setting – the wonderful world of pantomime.

He plays Fleshcreep in Jack and the Beanstalk at Tunbridge Wells’ Assembly Hall Theatre, alongside Luke Roberts from CITV’s HI-5 as Jack, and Hollyoaks star Sarah-Jane Buckley as the Fairy of the Forest.

Philip said: “It is a great release as it is all so over-the-top and fun, and I love the audience interaction, particularly playing Fleshcreep as he is someone to be booed and hissed.

“It is much more fun to be a baddie. People remember the bad guy. They have better lines.”

Among the things which attracted Philip to the part, was its location, just a short drive from the home he shares with wife Pip.

The couple have lived in Kent for 22 years, and have two children, Rupert, 29, and Jodie, 25.

He said: “Waterloo Road was filmed in Glasgow, so it will be nice to work from home for once.

“I’ll be able to spend Christmas with my family which I’m really looking forward to.”

Jack and the Beanstalk is at Tunbridge Wells’ Assembly Hall Theatre from Friday, December 13, to Sunday, January 5. Tickets from £16.50. Visit www.assemblyhall theatre.co.uk or call 01892 530613.

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