Saturday 1 October 2016

Ex-EastEnder and new Henry VIII Charlie Clements slams 'snobbery to soap actors'

Published 15/04/2016 | 11:06

Former Albert Square resident Charlie Clements as Henry VIII (Channel 5/PA)
Former Albert Square resident Charlie Clements as Henry VIII (Channel 5/PA)

Former EastEnders actor Charlie Clements has said there is still "snobbery" in the television industry towards soap actors.

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Clements remains best known for his four-year role as Max Branning's son Bradley.

He played the doomed Albert Square resident until the character's death in a special live episode in 2010.

He will next be seen in Henry VIII And His Six Wives as the famous Tudor king.

"Part of the reason why I'm doing this show is to try and show people that, to me and a lot of actors in soaps, there's more than what viewers just see on the screens," he said.

"Being on a soap is a very pressurised environment. You're shooting very quickly, you don't have much time to work on it, you've got to rattle it off, essentially.

"Whereas doing something like Henry VIII And His Six Wives gives you the chance to work on it a bit more.

"But there's definitely a snobbery towards soap and soap actors. I don't know where it stems from, but I'm trying to do the best I can to change it on a personal level by choosing jobs carefully."

Clements added: "I was offered an amazing job at 18 - I couldn't turn that down.

"I wasn't in a position to say no to that, but I've got absolutely no regrets from doing EastEnders because it's given me a very good foundation."

Historians Suzannah Lipscomb and Dan Jones will lead viewers through the web of intrigue, scandal, romance, betrayal and tragedy that characterised Henry's six marriages as the dramatic reconstruction brings it all vividly to life.

"I've always been fascinated by Tudor history," Clements said when asked what drew him to Henry VIII And His Six Wives.

"Just having the chance to play probably the most famous king in history for a one-off was a really exciting prospect.

"It's something that will show me in a different light, I suppose, compared to the stuff I've done before."

The oft-married Tudor has been portrayed by Irishman Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Australian Keith Michell and, most recently, by English actor Damian Lewis in Wolf Hall.

Asked if he felt any pressure about stepping into Lewis' shoes, the 28-year-old answered: "If you start trying to draw comparisons to people that have done it beforehand, you're fighting a losing battle.

"They've got their way of doing it and you've got your way of doing it which would be different so I didn't feel any pressure, I just wanted to get on with it."

The London-born actor enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Rada) and completed a master's course, graduating in 2014.

His post-EastEnders credits include BBC medical drama Casualty and Canadian drama Murdoch Mysteries.

On the decision to train at Rada, Clements said landing the role of Bradley in EastEnders put a hold on his career path.

"I'd always wanted to go to drama school - that was my plan, and then I auditioned for 'Enders and got the job and it got put on the back burner.

I left 'Enders and did some other stuff, but I wanted to learn a bit more about the craft as a whole and to get a bit more of an idea on the history of it and different methods of working, of approaching scripts, of methodology and things like that.

"I trained for the first time and it opened my eyes up."

:: Henry VIII And His Six Wives is broadcast on tonight at 8pm on Channel 5.

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