Simon Callow: 'People expect me to be Gareth from Four Weddings!'

Simon Callow

Simon Callow is back as irascible Brighton pensioner Henry Palmer in GOLD's senior citizen sitcom The Rebel. We caught up with him ...

TV & Satellite Week's interview with Simon Callow:

The Rebel is back for a full series after last year's three episodes. What can viewers expect?

“It’s rounder, richer, deeper, fuller and, I think, funnier. We’ve gone quite far with some of the comic sequences. For example, one involved me plunging into the English channel at midnight fully clothed! Henry also goes to some nightclubs and dances to Northern Soul...”

People will remember your dance moves from Four Weddings. What sort of shapes will we see Henry throwing?

“Extravagant dancing! I think I am an extravagant dancer, though I won’t be appearing on Strictly! I’mnot very good at formal steps, but I am quite good at being inventive and responsive to music.”

Do your fans still ask you about your role as Gareth in Four Weddings?

“They do expect me to be Gareth. And I am not. A small part of me is. But I’m not nearly as outrageous and gregarious as Gareth. If you saw me at a party you probably wouldn’t notice me. I just mingle with people  and I don’t hold the centre of attention at all – I don’t want to. They’re disappointed sometimes.”

What's winding Henry up in the new series? 

“Political correctness is just intolerable to Henry. In one episode he finds himself in hospital. There could be nothing worse for Henry than being in hospital. You have to wear the regulation garments. You have to stay in bed. You have to only eat what they want you to eat.”

What do you think about Henry's approach to old age?

“His favourite phrase is: ‘Just because there’s snow on the roof, it doesn’t mean the fire has gone out.’ That’s his motto in life. One of the weirdest things about getting older is that the past comes closer to you rather than going away from you. To some extent I do still feel as though I was still 23 and starting out as an actor.”

The Rebel premieres on GOLD on Wednesday 8 November at 10pm

Ian MacEwan
Senior Writer

Ian writes about TV and film for TV Times, What’s on TV and TV & Satellite Week magazines. He co-hosts the weekly TV streaming podcast, Bingewatch.