Graham – Fantastic, thanks! Your close connections with these papers are working a treat for us.
Philip Lovett, Nottingham City and County Enterprise and Skills Board, August 2012
After Dinner speaking
Thank you so much for your fascinating and funny talk... "Best talk ever”, members were saying as they left. Well done! It was great to see so many members asking you questions. There were 134 members in the audience, which is a really good attendance.
All good wishes.
Kay Williams Bourne U3A
Copywriting and Journalism
Superb piece, thanks so much Graham, have sent copy on to head of Military History Channel who I’m sure will be thrilled. We’ve got a few more coming up this year so hopefully we’ll be able to do more together very soon.
All the best
Steve Humphries, MD Testimony Films, Bristol
THANK-YOU – it looks fantastic!
Vicki-Sue Brotherhood, proprietor of Indian Summer, re the feature about her life and business on www.newarknotts.co.uk/
Articles - Derek Riddell
Double baby joy for Derek - at home and on set.
You could say that Glasgow-born TV star Derek Riddell seems to have taken his research and preparation to new heights as the foster-father of a new-born baby in returning BBC1 thriller Five Days. He has become the real-life father of twins!
The abandoned baby in the drama is reckoned to be about three days old, and series producer Caroline Skinner spotted Derek’s practised ease with the wee mite straightaway: “Watching him you could see that this was a man who knows how to hold a baby,” says Caroline.
I pass this on to Derek during our interview on location in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and he looks chuffed to bits, every inch the proud dad:
“If I’d have been playing this part about a year ago I’d have been very scared about lifting up babies and not knowing what I was doing, but it came kind of naturally by the time I started filming.”
No Angels and Ugly Betty star Derek, 42, and partner Frances Corrigan, whom Derek vaguely agrees is “roughly the same age”, became proud parents of twins Eve and Felix in May last year. The twins were just about to turn five months old a few days after our encounter:
“I thought I’d be escaping from babies but virtually all my scenes in this are with babies, because the premise of the drama revolves around this baby that’s been abandoned and my character, Nick, acts as foster-parent when the baby first arrives.
“He’s a single fella because his wife’s died and he’s still trying to get over that. But they fostered together and this is the first time he’s done it since she died, so it’s a big decision for him because it brings back lots of memories.
“He forms a bond with the child and gets emotionally involved but then has to face having to give the baby up to somebody else.”
But at least Derek gets to hand this baby back at the end of the day’s shoot and head back to his hotel in Leeds to relax, while partner Frances is left holding both babies back home in North London:
“We’re still feeding them at three-and-a-half hourly intervals but we’re doing all right now, sleep-wise. Fortunately only Felix had colic and he’s grown out of that now. But what it would have been like if both of them had had it I don’t know, because it’s difficult – they’re in such pain and you just can’t do anything about it.”
“Really I’m just catching up on sleep after work. All the clichés are true – having kids is incredibly hard work, especially since most of my family and Frances’s family are up in Scotland, so it’s just us. Or sometimes just her.
“At least I get away to Leeds to sleep in a hotel for a couple of nights a week and recuperate. Frances is amazing. She’s been on duty every day, night and day, and she’s doing amazingly well. But for both of us, as any parent will know, there are just some days when the tiredness hits you.
“But she’s a very, very good mother, and it’s fantastic being parents. This is the happiest I’ve ever been. It really is life-changing.
“And we have a boy and a girl – job done! I think both for them and for the parents, being non-identical twins makes life a lot easier.”
Derek reckons his stint on Five Days is the perfect job right now because it keeps him in interesting work – the series by Gwyneth Hughes was a deserved hit when it premiered with a different cast two years ago – while at the same time leaving him enough freedom to stay home several days a week:
“I like the fact that what I do enables me to be with my kids probably more than a lot of fathers… In their first three months I’ve seen much more of my kids than many fathers can in the first year. I don’t think I’m ever going to regret that.”
Derek’s new family has put any further Hollywood aspirations on hold for the moment. After breaking through on British TV as the repressed gay footie fan in Scottish sitcom The Book Group and consolidating his success as a randy doctor in hit medical drama No Angels, he spent two years living and working in LA:
“I went over there to do a series called State of Mind that ran for just one season. We all went – Frances, me, the dog. It was the first time I’d worked in Hollywood and it was very enjoyable.
“Then Ugly Betty came along while I was out there and it just happened that they were looking for a Scottish character.”
Derek, who’s the son of actress Hope Ross and former St Mirren footballer Ian Riddell, played Stuart, the ailing husband of Christina – played by Scottish co-star Ashley Jensen: “It was great fun working with Ashley again because we go back a long way. We’ve done theatre together and we did Clocking Off together many years ago.
“It was a very good experience but I just came back and it’s nice to be able to keep a foot in here and work in both places… I’m sure I will go back at some point but I don’t know when exactly. It’s slightly more difficult now with two young children, instead of just me hopping on a plane.”
Being a dad seems to have made Derek well-disposed to the world and he’s pleased to be playing a sympathetic and warmly paternal character in Five Days, which co-stars Suranne Jones, Anne Reid and Bernard Hill:
“I was quite glad to do it because a lot of the characters that I’ve played recently have been quite nasty people. Nick has a few issues but deep down he means well and he’s a nice guy.”
You might say the same about Derek, who remains as affable and approachable now as he was before he became famous, though he’s somewhat non-committal about how keenly he and Frances may have longed for children before the twins arrived:
“It wasn’t something that was totally on my radar all the time. Sometimes you do (want to have them) and sometimes you don’t – but I’m delighted now that we did have them.
“It’s amazing how quickly it just becomes the norm. As everybody says, you can’t remember what it was like before the kids were there.”
And is becoming a dad all he imagined it would be?
“It’s better… because round about the four month mark they start really smiling and giggling and that makes all of it completely worthwhile. They smile at you first thing in the morning when you wake up, and then the hours you put in feel totally worthwhile.
“I’d love them to just stay they way they are right now, but thankfully people say to me that each stage just gets better and better
“As an older parent you do worry about having enough energy, but I think they’re going to keep me young. That’s the way I’ve got to look at it. I’ll just have to do a bit more exercise…
- Five Days begins on Monday March 1 2010 on BBC1 and runs over five consecutive nights.
After Dinner Speaker
Fresh and funny
Showbiz journalist Graham Keal developed his flair for entertaining audiences early, compering student revues, appearing at folk clubs and auditioning for Opportunity Knocks. He is now an experienced speaker performing at dinners, conferences and club events all over the UK.
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