Highbury actor juggles silver screen roles with being a tour guide
Staring alongside Simon Pegg in a film one week and showing tourists around London the next may seem worlds apart, but for actor Alan Drake the two roles aren’t that different.
The 40-year-old from Highbury Grange, Highbury has a long list of impressive acting credits, but in between roles and penning his own film he often returns to his “bread and butter” job as a Blue Badge Guide of London.
He said: “Acting is a funny old business, you kind of have to get used to being unemployed and once you come to terms with that you actually start to enjoy it. My mum said years ago when I told her I was going to be an actor that I had to find another job I enjoy as well, and I did.
“In actual fact, being an actor and a tour guide are not too dissimilar. When you have got to take a group of 50 people to Stonehenge on a 10 hour coach journey you have to keep them entertained, and put on a persona to an extent.”
But throughout September the only way tourists will catch a glimpse of Alan is on stage at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London’s West End as he reprises the role of Eddie in two-hander comedy Kissing Sid James, which had its debut run at the Old Red Lion Theatre, Islington, last year.
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He said: “The theatre was so supportive, it really helped us so much. The play was supposed to be on for three weeks but it turned into 10 weeks and we both got nominated for best actor in the West End Awards.” It also brought him to the attention of the man directing this summer’s British comedy film A Fantastic Fear of Everything in which stared as a PCSO alongside Simon Pegg and Sheridan Smith.
Kissing Sid James, which also stars Charlotte McKinney, returns to London after a sell-out run in New York between Christmas and New Year.
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Alan, who is currently co-writing a film entitled Budgie Smugglers about an ageing beach volleyball team, said: “It sold out most nights. The American audience took it really well, and I think what they liked about it so much is that they saw a different sort of Britain – not like what they see in shows like Downton Abbey. An England that’s not very wealthy, with very working class people and regional accents.
He continued: “We were a little bit worried about if the American audience would buy into it, but they were killing themselves laughing and we broke the box office records for that theatre.”
The play follows the journey of two lonely souls who, following one disastrous date, go to a seaside town for the weekend.
Alan said: “It’s very funny in parts, and almost tear jerkingly sad in others. They are very real people and everyone probably knows people like them.”
The show runs from Monday, September 3 to 29. For more information visit www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk