Tony Caunter

"Roy Evans"

Interviewed by Tim Wilson

One of the Good Guys

Yes, yes... I know many of you out there think Roy Evans (East End car dealer extraordinaire) is just too good to be true. Walford Gazette subscriber Lisa Williamson has even commented that he's "too nice for Pat -- even though she has pulled herself toge ther." I recently spoke on the phone with the gentleman who plays Roy, Tony Caunter, asking him to give his own viewpoint on this and several other matters. You shouldn't be too surprised to learn that he's extremely nice, too. He's one of the good guys.

WG: So what do you make of this "too good to be true" business? It does appear that Roy Evans is the perfect man.

TC: Uhh, did you happen to miss a certain crucial Pat/Roy episode, Tim?

WG: Okay, so he does have that little problem, that minor flaw.

TC: It's a pretty major flaw, don't you think? Impotency?

WG: I have great confidence that he'll snap out of it someday soon and then he'll be perfect. We have a popular sex therapist [in America] named Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Maybe he should fly her over.

TC: I've seen her on television over here! She's very funny. (sighs) Roy needs all the help he can get, poor sod.

WG: I watched the show over there a few months ago and there was a little scene where Pat slips and reveals Roy's impotency to Kathy. Kathy asks why he hasn't gone to get help for it. Pat says something like, "Oh, you know Roy, Kath. He's too proud to see k help." Come on! I think Roy is perfectly capable of getting off his behind and heading up West or wherever to get that problem sorted, don't you?

TC: Don't tell me, tell the writers! No really, even without the impotency problem, Roy wouldn't be perfect. It is true, though, that he really loves and respects Pat.

WG: And he's loaded.

TC: He also helped take good care of Janine when she was there. He's gotten on well with David and Ricky. And he's been a good dad to Barry.

WG: And he's loaded.

TC: (laughs): Right, right, that too! Although the writers have recently come up with a clever storyline in which Roy finds himself on ... more of a level playing field with the other residents of Albert Square. You're all quite a ways behind in episodes over there so I guess you won't see that happen for many months.

WG: I admit I was a bit worried when Roy Evans was brought on to the show because it was established that he was an affluent fellow. I wondered how he and Pat could wind up together without her leaving Albert Square (and EastEnders) for a life of luxury.

TC: I think there was that concern in the beginning but the writers created a plausible reason for him to move into the Square. He's from that environment initially; he's an East End boy. He's not a posh gent although he does know about good wine and fine dining. He really loves Pat and she didn't want to leave because her family and friends were there and by then he'd have done anything for Pat. He'd reached a time in his life when he desperately wanted a good home life with a good woman. He was already semi-retired and could afford to sit back and smell the roses, so to speak -- and he wanted to smell them with Pat! And to completely answer your original question, he's really not perfect at all. By now we've seen that he can lose his temper and he can s ometimes not be terribly open to other people's views.

WG: A scene aired here not too long ago in which Pat said to Roy in the Vic, "You're the nicest man in the world" and Roy replied, "You didn't know me when I was younger." Was Roy a bit of a rotter before we (and Pat) got to know him?

TC: I don't really think he was ever a horrible person. I'm sure he had to be tough because he's a self-made man. In that area, in that business, he had to be tough. I don't think he was ruthless though. It would be nice if that remark of his is fleshed o ut in a storyline one day.

WG: A disgruntled ex-employee could show up at the Vic and accuse Roy of having been a total bastard.

TC (laughs): Yes, I'd like that. The ex-employee would have to be punished immediately for calling him a bastard in the Vic, of course. A lorry must run over him post-haste!

WG: For a nice guy you really have vivid ideas regarding punishment. Seriously, if I haven't already mentioned it, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me for the Gazette.

TC: Well, I'm very, very pleased to talk with you. I worked in America a couple of times in actual fact and I've always had a great soft spot for America and Americans.

WG: You've worked here, have you? Was it stage or film?

TC: Both. I came over first in 1963 to work on Broadway in a play called Chips with Everything. It was something of a traumatic period because we played in New York at the same time as President Kennedy's assassination. We did get very positive reviews by the local critics, but the play never quite gelled with the audiences, so we wound up running for five and a half months. We expected to run a bit longer. Oh well. It was great to be over there at that time, though, because there was quite a large Britis h contingent working on Broadway during that season. It was a great deal of fun, despite the rather harsh winter and a transport strike! I absolutely adored doing Chips With Everything. It was about the Royal Air Force. I'll tell you one of the things I enjoyed most about being on Broadway. Every Thu rsday night, the casts from a lot of the shows would get together and go bowling! It was called the Broadway Show League. I'd be bowling alongside people like George Peppard and a newcomer who was starring i n Barefoot in the Park named Robert Redford. Kirk Douglas too--he was doing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

WG: I've got to know for the benefit of my readers: did Robert Redford or George Peppard or Kirk Douglas stink at bowling?

TC (laughs): No, everyone was rather good, from what I remember. Anyway, back to me and my career! The second time I came to America was for a two-part television film called S.O.S. Titanic... the title is self-explanatory, I guess! We filmed on board the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. David Janssen was the star and Helen Mirren was in it as well. So was David Warner, who's now also in Titanic, I gather. I played Chief Officer Henry Wilde ... he kept the working class passengers from reaching the d eck amongst the upper class passengers. He's a baddie in retrospect, I imagine. Titanic just premiered here in England last week and I can't wait to see it. Both my American experiences, in a nutshell, were absolutely wonderful.

WG: You've appeared on Doctor Who, haven't you?

TC: Yes, three times as a matter of fact, opposite three different Doctors! I particularly enjoyed the last one I did. I played a drunken Victorian sailor.

WG: Is there any other kind?! Is EastEnders the first role you've played on a regular basis?

TC: Yes, it is. It's also the first time I've been subject to tabloid press interest and all that silly stuff, although so far I've been lucky in that they haven't been too rough on me or disrupted my family. I love to work, though, as all actors do. On E astEnders, I get to work on a highly regular basis, which is lovely.

WG: I'm sorry to dredge the impotency issue up yet again, but I wanted to ask you if you think it'll ever get seriously addressed?

TC: I hope so, yes. You know, the reason I think they decided to have Roy be impotent was that they were concerned about Pat falling into bed with someone, after Frank. The show since then has for some reason pulled away from dealing with it, one of the r easons most likely being that we air here at 7:30 in the evening and a large number of children watch. But by God, we deal with everything else, don't we? Homosexuality, homelessness, drug abuse. I was just talking to our story editor the other day and he claimed that the impotency issue will be addressed in the very near future. I hope by New Year' s Eve 1999!

WG: For Pat's sake, I hope so, too. Do you enjoy working with Pam St. Clement?

TC: Absolutely, she's a fabulous, fabulous lady. You've interviewed her so you already know how very intelligent she is. She's a great person, just a joy to work with. Shaun Williamson (Barry) is a lovely lad, as well. I'm a lucky actor to get to work wit h extremely nice, extremely good people. I almost didn't get to play Roy. You know who almost got my part? Brian Croucher, who now plays Ted Hills, Kathy's brother. The show ultimately decided they didn't want to use him for Roy and because we shared the same agent, I was then suggested. Brian w as cast later on as Ted so it all worked out alright . . . except he hasn't got a lovely leading lady for a romantic interest, just two mixed up kids!

WG: He's not impotent too, I hope.

TC: It wasn't infectious when last I checked the medical journals, Tim.

WG: That'd make for an interesting storyline. I can see the headline in the Walford Gazette: IMPOTENCY PLAGUE STRIKES ALBERT SQUARE!

TC (laughs): And it names Roy as Patient Zero and it's all too much for poor Pat.

WG: It should most likely happen at Christmastime because Pat rarely has a nice Christmas. One year she ran over a teenage girl and was arrested for drunk driving and in 1995 Frank showed up.

TC: She has a nice Christmas in 1996, I'm happy to say. But oops, she had another bad one in 1997.

WG: I know, I watched. You're a very happy family man in real life, aren't you?

TC: Yes, I am, thanks for asking. I'm married to an absolutely wonderful lady named Frances and we have four children, three sons and a daughter. Our eldest, Nicholas, has been acting for the past five or six years. He just did a play last summer with Kat hleen Turner. We also have twin sons, William and James. William is a first assistant director on a very popular series called The Bill. James is a political researcher for an independent channel, Parliament TV. Our daughter Sarah has three beautiful chil dren -- Mario Jr., Joshua and Brinyan. In case you're wondering, Brinyan's a girl! Nicholas and I are the hambones of the family and the rest are the sensible ones.

WG: Where were you born and raised, Tony?

TC: Southampton, in Hampshire. I'm a real Southerner. My mother died when I was eleven, so I was raised by my grandmother. To make a very long story short, I joined the Royal Air Force when I was seventeen and after that I went to drama school at LAMDA (L ondon Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts). Richard Harris, Donald Sutherland, Janet Suzman (Nicholas and Alexandra) and I were all in the same class together. Not bad company, eh?

WG: So do you intend on staying with EastEnders for a long time? I speak for many Walford Gazette readers when I say I hope so.

TC: Oh, thank you. Yes, I do. You know, this show came along at the right time for me. At times I don't think I've ever been worked harder than on this show but I love it. Most men my age are considering retirement but I'm extremely happy at EastEnders. I don't even mind when my character's on the back burner from time to time. The show's made a distinct effort to make Roy more human and less perfect. He's gone from being Pat's knight in shining armour to a fellow who gets upset and angry and leaps about. He and Pat don't live "happily ever after," well at least not in that boring sense. There's a lot more turmoil to come.

WG: She hasn't admitted to him that she did sleep with Frank, for starters.

TC: Oh, yes, that's a biggie just waiting to blow up in her face.

WG: Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me, Tony. You're a really nice bloke, you know.

TC: You're welcome, Tim. Thanks for the very kind words. All the best to your readers.