TV actor and presenter Bradley Walsh launched Ardingly ArtsFest’s Comedy Night in style on Monday, June 23.
In ‘An Evening with Bradley Walsh’ at Ardingly College, the actor candidly spoke about his career to a large audience, hosted by The Guardian writer, Matt Trueman.
But before the big event, the County Times caught up with the ITV star to find out why he decided to support the college’s festival.
Bradley talked about his long career in the TV spotlight and juggling work with home life. He also revealed some exciting new projects.
“I’ve just come back from Brazil to be here,” said Bradley. “Hopefully I can inspire some kids, seriously.
“Purely and simply it’s very important that you inspire and encourage. It’s a peculiar thing for a parent to say, I’m not sure about that. Youngsters are fragile people in that respect. They need to be nurtured and be given a bit of direction.
“If they want to be an actor, musician or a politician, why not? Nothing’s impossible if you set your mind to it, and if you’ve got the aptitude then you’ve cracked it. Even if you fail, go down in a blaze of glory.”
Showbiz, however, was not always on the Watford resident’s cards. Starting out as a jet engineer, Bradley took up his first job with Rolls-Royce.
“The factory that I worked in, strangely enough, is the Harry Potter film studios now.”
Describing himself as the joker in the pack, Bradley was an avid performer, taking part in school plays and leading the assemblies.
“My actual ambition was to play professional football and I was good at a young age and I was lucky to do it but an injury finished my career.”
Acting eventually became Bradley’s main focus and he has since enjoyed a long, successful vocation on the TV screen, most notably playing Danny Baldwin in Coronation Street from 2004 until 2006.
“That’s the path that life took me and thank god it did.”
The former soap star gave a glimpse into the strict schedule.
“When you make a soap, it’s seven in the morning until seven at night. They’re 12 hour days, but mainly studio based – five to six days a week. And you’re probably making four episodes at a time. You’ve got to have the best continuity people with you at all times.”
Although he admits that Coronation Street was tough, it did not prepare him for the intense schedule and bitter cold conditions while filming Law & Order: UK which is now on its eighth season.
“ITV gave me the role of Ronnie Brooks in Law & Order, and that is seven months a year across the winter outside at five in the morning until nine at night, with two hours travelling in and two hours travelling home in the rain and the snow. That is really gruesome.
“We shoot a lot outside and it’s freezing. So much so that there are tricks of the trade. If you’re in a very cold building and you’re talking, you can see the cold air coming out of my breath. So literally before you start talking you have to suck ice cubes to dissipate it.”
Not just a character actor, Bradley has presented game shows since the mid ’90s with Wheel of Fortune, Midas Touch and now The Chase.
Contestants play against an opponent known as ‘The Chaser’ for money. The Chasers are Anne Hegerty (The Governess), Mark Labbett (The Beast), Paul Sinha (The Sinnerman) and Shaun Wallace (The Barrister).
“The Barrister, Shaun, comes across very grumpy, but he’s the nicest man on the planet – I shouldn’t really say that. He hates it when he has to be horrible, he really gets upset because he’s so lovely.”
Bradley recently became a Youtube sensation when a clip from The Chase featured him laughing uncontrollably after reading out the four potential answers for a question – one being German alpine skier Fanny Chmelar.
“I never got the chance to meet her actually because I wanted to apologise.
“I think the hits are like 4.2 million now. It’s the question setters who do it deliberately because I don’t see the questions. If you’re the contestant, I stand at the table and play along with you.
“I then go off shot and I think, what the hell have I just said? Then I’ve got visions of the question setters sitting in the back of the gallery just wetting themselves laughing knowing they’re going to catch me out because I’ve got a juvenile sense of humour.”
With Law & Order, The Chase and taking part in events like Ardingly’s Artsfest, Bradley seems to have little time for respite.
“Honestly, I don’t have time for anything else when I’m working,” he said.
“Around May through to September I have off, so everything has to be crammed in before. It’s an odd thing to do. I still get family time weekends, but some people stagger their time around, I don’t. I save it and have the whole summer off.”
Current work aside, the ever busy Bradley is working on a number of new projects, including a show with music mogul Simon Cowell, which he is not allowed to talk in great detail about.
“We’re trying to launch a show in September – a co-production between myself and Simon Cowell.
“I’m also making a show for the BBC, which is set in Grand Canaria. So no ice cubes this time, just ice creams.”