INSIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS
BBC Series, Love Hurts - 1992/1994
I loved drama at school but did not have any particular desires to be an actor. Rather, I wanted to be a footballer like every other kid my age.
One day at school, I was informed that the BBC were looking for a deaf actor aged 12-14 to star as Alex Friedman, the son of a Jewish mother in a series called Love Hurts with Adam Faith, Zoe Wanamaker and Jane Lapotaire. The producers had contacted schools throughout the country and asked each school to choose two pupils who they thought would fit the role. In my case it was myself and an appropriately named pupil called Alex Lissner.
An assessor came to the school and Alex and I had to act out a series of varied scripts that was given to us. I was selected and thus asked to travel to London to meet the producers.
At the venue along with dozens of other children, I was pretty much last on the list to be called in.
Upon entering the room and facing Maurice Gran and Laurence Marks, the writer and producer amongst others, I started off by saying, “Hi, my name is Carl. I would like to just say that although I may not understand everything that is said to me immediately, please bear with me as it does take a moment or two to get used to the lip pattern of people I have not spoken to before.”
I remember there being a silence in the room for many seconds afterwards - I only discovered much later that they had not expected the kind of entrance I had made and that most of the children auditioning - especially the deaf ones, were overawed by the occasion and nervous. They thought that it was so unusual for a kid of thirteen to go in and take control of a room like that.
Anyway, I did the interview and answered a few questions and was thanked for my time and was asked if I could hold on while they called my parents into the room.
Now, I still do not know to this day how I managed to miss the what was said during this period - I cannot ask my parents are they are deceased but what I do remember clearly is on the drive home, we were talking and I was just being my usual self - albeit a little tired as it had been a long day. I turned round and said to my mother (Dad was driving at the time and I was sat in the back on the right so that I could lip-read my mother), “I really hope I get the part…”
My mother looked at my father for a few seconds then round and looked at me before saying, “what do you mean, you hope you get the part..?” Obviously seeing that I was at a loss and perplexed at such a reply - my mother continued, “you have got the part - you were there!”
It turns out that I must have missed the part when Maurice and Laurence decided to offer me the part there and then when they called my parents into the room and it solved the mystery as to why everyone was saying what an absolutely remarkable child I was to carry on ‘acting’ perfectly normal despite securing the part of a prime time acting role!
Little did they know but hey, it made me look super-cool!
The next two years were hard work juggling school (I was attending a boarding school at the time in Brighton) an acting mainly in London and Hertfordshire as well as playing pool and football. My parents had to drive from the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, to Brighton and then up to London and back again and some days on set lasted all day. We were absolutely exhausted at times. The worse days for me I remember were having to hang around all day waiting for the previous ‘take’ to get it right which sometimes took all day.
One consolation was I was being paid very well for it!
A particular incident that must be mentioned during the filming is one where my father and Rik Mayall clashed. Rick - at that time was just an ‘extra’ on set but clearly felt that he should be assigned A-list status and treated as such.
We used to have a double decker London bus which acted as our ‘canteen’ and provided food for all the actors (apart from those who has their own luxury caravans/motorhomes) and one particular day we had a lot of extras on set. Both my parents were with me that day as was my brother, Kurt and upon entering the bus, found that the downstairs had no seating available so we went upstairs.
Again, the whole floor was rammed full - except for Rik Mayall who was sitting in a space for six people. With nowhere else to go, my father headed for it and politely asked if we could join him at the table only to get a pompous reply, “these seats are reserved for my friends”.
Despite my father trying to reason with him and stating that we would only take five minutes (we were all carrying trays with hot plates and drinks) but Mayall refused to budge. Those who knew my father would not be surprised to know he would not take such treatment and started giving Rik a piece of his mind and although I still don’t know to this day what it was my father said to him, it was enough to see Rik squirm, blush bright red, get up and leave without a further word.
I also noticed a lot of people nodding their thanks to my father - clearly their thoughts towards Rik must have mirrored his words!
From that day onward up until his death, if Mayall appeared on our TV’s, we used to switch off.
Although I had some great times on set - especially with Zoe Wanamaker, I never felt that it was my destiny to act - it wasn’t something that resonated with me and I never got that special feeling that I discovered with other things in life, especially pool.
The greatest - and weirdest - thing for me was that I was getting stopped by grown men and women in the street for my autograph and photo - I had trouble with the fact that the series had an regular audience of over 10 million viewers and so I was recognised in a lot of places I went.
Upon the third series approaching, I had to seriously consider whether I wanted to do it seeing as it was to clash with my GCSE’s. Every kid thinks their invincible - that they can do everything and at once and so it took a very serious and in-depth heart to heart with my parents to make the decision that I would decline the third series to focus on my GCSE’s.