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Tommy Jessop: ‘Acting is my life’

Actor Tommy Jessop is performing in Much Ado About Nothing with Blue Apple Theatre, a company for actors with learning difficulties. He has also begun a career in presenting, hosting an episode of BBC’s Inside Out South about his experiences with the production.

Why do you enjoy working on Shakespeare’s plays?

I very much enjoy performing Shakespeare and everything to do with performing Shakespeare – plot, language, romance, comedy, deep emotions – but my absolute highlights have to be comedy and romance. Rehearsing Much Ado About Nothing has been hard work, but fun. We’ve had lots of laughs, we have wonderful costumes and we’re all very much looking forward to performing in London at RADA and at Salisbury Playhouse.

Have you enjoyed your first experience of presenting?

Words cannot even describe how much I enjoyed presenting. I escaped into a world of my own. I had control and power over whatever else I felt like doing or saying as well.

What has your previous acting experience been like?

Perhaps the highlight of my work on stage was playing Hamlet which I loved.
Our Hamlet was quite romantic and tragic and I loved the sword fighting and the romance with Ophelia. I’ve also played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Mayor in Gogol’s The Government Inspector, and King Shariah in Arabian Nights. I’ve been very lucky with a variety of roles on TV and radio and in film. My TV started with co-starring in the brilliant Mark Haddon film Coming Down The Mountain on BBC1 with Nicholas Hoult which was nominated for a BAFTA, then with a really good story line in Holby City, then a double episode of Casualty when my character nearly burnt down the hospital but in the end saved the day.

How important is Blue Apple Theatre to you, and why?

Acting is my life. It is my only opportunity to learn and develop my experience on stage and have fun performing to a live audience. It is equally important as my TV and film career. Blue Apple Theatre is ambitious and has professional directors, choreographers, writing, costume and lighting which is really important to people like me who want to take performing seriously and work as professionally as possible. Blue Apple Theatre is our only chance to perform on big public stages. Performers who have learning disabilities want to have a chance to work professionally. I don’t know of any roles on stage for people like me outside companies like Blue Apple Theatre. And I don’t think there are many companies like Blue Apple Theatre.

What sort of projects would you like to work on in the future?

My ambition is to hit Hollywood, but I love being on TV in front of the cameras, and I love being on stage interacting with the audience. I’d like to do more presenting. When you get to do a job like mine you have to be prepared for anything. I love that.

Inside Out South will be broadcast at 7.30pm on September 14 on BBC1 in the south and nationwide
on BBC iPlayer.

Much Ado About Nothing will run at RADA on September 16 and 27 and at Salisbury Playhouse on September 18 and 19.

Training: BBC/Channel 4 Actors Centre Talent Fund for Disabled Actors
Blue Apple Theatre

First professional job: Coming Down the Mountain, BBC (2007)

Agent: Curtis Brown

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