With COVID19 keeping many of us confined to our homes, there is no better time to reacquaint ourselves with Boyd Clack’s classic comedy series, High Hopes, currently showing on BBC IPlayer.
Between 2002 and 2015, across six series and two specials, the Welsh Valleys based sit-com by Boyd Clack and Kirsten Jones followed the adventures of a budding Welsh “entrepreneur” Fagin (Robert Blythe), whose business deals were usually on the wrong side of the law and his Mam (Margaret John). After an attempted burglary from two teenage tearaways, Fagin and Mam take in the boys, Hoffman (Steve Meo) and Charlie (Ben Evans, later Oliver Wood) as Fagin’s apprentices.
All series of High Hopes are now available to watch on BBC IPlayer. How did the idea of the series come about?
The idea of High Hopes came after Satellite City ended prematurely and I had to think of a suitable follow up that someone would take up. I read an article in The Western Mail about a group of youngsters in the valleys who found a dead body and took it to their hideaway to keep. They’d sit it up etcetera. The pilot of High Hopes ‘Saving Private Ryan’ was on this very theme.
As series one developed it struck me how nice valleys people are, how kind, and the idea of a mother and her son finding two homeless thieves breaking in resulted in them ‘adopting’ the boys. It showed the fluent nature of the concept of family. It was a beautiful thing. Once the characters were established the rest was easy.
The series had a great cast – what were they all like to work with?
High Hopes was greatly helped by the wonderful cast. They each inhabited their characters with seeming ease and fitted them like a glove. Mam and Fagin played by the equally brilliant Margaret John and Bob Blythe were perfect, both now are sadly deceased and greatly missed.
Steve Meo and Ben Evans (replaced later by Ollie Wood) were just so lovely, they saw the beauty in the characters. It was quite moving really. All of them are still dear friends though we don’t get to see each other often enough. The show became greatly loved by the audience because of its beauty I believe, because it showed the better part of society, the love that binds us together. I send my love and gratitude to everyone involved
Both yourself and Keiron Self are cast as bumbling Policemen in the series. How much fun was it to create those characters?
Keiron and I had a great time as Ball and Cox. Keiron is a fine actor and a lovely man. We were both aware that Cox would not have a job anywhere else and that Ball covered for him because they were friends. Once again kindness!
I loved being Ball because he is as hard as nails and I am as soft as candyfloss. He is the me of my dreams! I have relatives and friends in the Police Force and have immense gratitude, respect and love for them as a body. They stand between us and the thugs and bullies who would otherwise dominate our cities, towns and villages. Police officers still salute me in the street occasionally!
Were any of the characters based on real people?
I had two mates called Charlie and Hoffman. They had just been let out of the Detention Centre. They were lovely lads!
High Hopes also boasts some wonderful (and legendary) guest stars. Was it easy to get such actors on board for occasional episodes?
Phil Madoc, Hywel Bennett and Victor Spinetti were all excellent as guest artists and all three loved the experience. All three realised that High Hopes was something special.
Hywel has been an acting hero of mine since the 1960s when he was one of the ultra-cool new wave of ‘kitchen sink’ actors with the likes of Albert Finney and Peter O’Toole. I regarded him as a great actor. I had worked with him before and he was very kind to me.
Obviously there cant be any more High Hopes on television form, but could you ever see it making a transition to stage like other comedy series such as Dad’s Army, Fawlty Towers or Black Adder?
High Hopes could work as a stage show but we’d need financial backing!