Frazer Hines is probably one of the most recognisable actors from the classic series of Doctor Who. His time onboard with Doctor number 2 created some of the shows mist iconic moments. Recently Frazer released his autobiography, Hines Sight, so we decided to have a brief chat about his past, present and future work.
In your new book, Hines Sight, you mention going to The Corona Academy alongside Dennis Waterman and Richard Oâ€™ Sullivan amongst others. Was it a happy period of your life?
I have mixed memories from my childhood, as you can see from the book. On the one hand there was my family life, and on the other there was Corona which was a place I always wanted to get to. Can you imagine going to school with some of the most beautiful women on the planet? Lovely ladies like Francesca Annis, not to mention the charming Susan George, who I later went out with for a time.
Do you ever meet old chums and talk about times there?
There were so many of us at the Academy that itâ€™s almost inevitable that I bump into old friends all the time. I worked with one of my old school chums, Larry Dann, who was Sgt Alec Peters in The Bill. We did pantomime together in Lincoln â€“ I was playing the good robber, he the bad.
We looked at each other one day during the rehearsals and said, â€˜Do you remember the First Routine?â€™ and on the spot we performed the First, the Second, the Third and the Fourth Routines. Miss Muriel, our tutor at Corona, had drummed it into us so well that we never forgot it, and the fear of getting it wrong was still with us!
Your first cinematic role was in movie John and Julie forming part of the crowd. Can you still recall the feeling on set?
Not really as it was a crowd scene, and I was very young. You just sort of mill around in a way that the director likes and hope that your face might be seen by the camera. I do remember the tea breaks, though. They served these big cheese rolls stuffed with butter and cheddar. I used to look forward to the breaks and tried to get to the front of the queue to make sure I got mine.
There was no way of knowing that some forty-odd years youâ€™d still be attached to Doctor Who. At the time of being cast was it just another acting job to you?
To be totally honest, at the time it was just another kids TV show, but it was well thought of. As a young actor I was of course delighted to be cast as it meant money and work, and even more pleased when I found out that I was staying on past the first few episodes! Back then there were no fans, not like there are today, all organised and knowing everything about the show, and so it felt like just another gig really, albeit one which I totally loved and through which I met so many people and friends who I still see today.
Much has been said about you and Pat Troughtonâ€™s wonderful on screen chemistry, was this reflected off camera too?
Pat and I were great mates and I have many happy memories of working with him. I donâ€™t want to give away all the book though! Like me he was a great practical joker, and we would delight in tormenting Debbie or Wendy in whatever ways we could devise.
Do you have a favourite Doctor Who story?
My favourite story would have to be my first, â€˜The Highlandersâ€™. Because of that, I enjoyed three very happy years working with Patrick, and Iâ€™ve since got to travel the world, meeting fans and making friends, and having opportunities which many actors never get. Iâ€™ve not really followed the show since though. As an actor you tend to be working or touring, or both, and to try and set aside time to follow a series on television is near impossible. I have seen some of the recent episodes though, and itâ€™s very impressive. The production team obviously care very much about it, and Iâ€™d love to have the opportunity to work with them at some point.
If asked, would you re-create Jamie for the new series?
As I mentioned, the new series is excellent, and Iâ€™d come back to play Jamie like a shot! He was such a great character and Iâ€™ve had so much fun reprising the role recently for Big Finish in their audio plays.
You became a bit of a sex symbol when you joined Emmerdale Farm (as it was called then). Did you have to audition for the part?
Iâ€™m good friends with Lisa Goddard, and her father, David Goddard, was one of the people setting up Emmerdale Farm. It was Lisa who suggested me to her dad for the part of Joe, and so I went along to meet the casting directors at Yorkshire Television. They asked me what I knew about farming and I blithely told them that I used to know some farming people in Yorkshire years and years ago. Was that good enough? They shook their heads. OK: did I know how to cast a fly, because young Joe Sugden started off as a fly-fisherman?
â€˜Oh yes,â€™ I bluffed. â€˜Fly-fishing? Me? Constantly! Rod never out of my hand. Every morning and weekend in the season â€¦â€™ Whether any of that was right or not I never knew, but it worked. Kevin Laffan, the creator of Emmerdale Farm, smiled, shook my hand and that was it. I was Joe Sugden.
The show is quite different now to what it was then, some of the humour has been lost and uses farming just as a backdrop. Would you agree?
I think so. As with Doctor Who itâ€™s been hard for me to keep up with it, but when itâ€™s on and Iâ€™m available I have dipped in. It is much more of a soap opera these days, I suppose trying to compete with EastEnders and Hollyoaks and the like, and I guess that the farming angle is less important to the makers and the viewers than it was in the past. We would have whole storylines about cows giving birth or sheep being worried by dogs â€¦ I donâ€™t know if they still do that.
Horses have been in your life since you were young, how did you balance this with your acting work?
Iâ€™ve always loved horses. There was even an occasion on Doctor Who when I got to ride one! Thereâ€™s lots of stories in the book about my passion for them, and for racing them. I was even an amateur jockey for several years. I think itâ€™s because they are loyal and for the most part undemanding, and in my life of uncertainty both with work and with women, itâ€™s nice to have a constant you can rely on. When Iâ€™m not working, Iâ€™m at Newmarket where I co-own a stud farm, looking after my beautiful mares and foals.
It must have been hard working on a rolling drama such as Emmerdale Farm, did any of the animal actors act up?
ALL THE TIME!!! Never work with children and animals. That is so true.
Every actor must crave for a role to which they will be forever remembered for and loved, but youâ€™ve helped to create two! How do you feel about that?
I feel very fortunate to be known for two such important and memorable roles. Iâ€™m strangely proud that my run as Jamie in Doctor Who has yet to be equalled by another companion, and honoured that I worked with Pat. Joe was a far more down to earth character than Jamie, but I hope I managed to make him human and real to the viewers. I still get people today calling out to me, â€˜Hey Joe!â€™ as I pass, and I always smile and wave. Itâ€™s incredible that television can touch peopleâ€™s lives like that.
Youâ€™ve spent most of your life in the public eye, was there ever a time when you wished that some attention would go away so you could lead a normal life?
Not really, no, itâ€™s all part of the job. And when one is shopping in the local Morrisons, or having a drink with friends in the pub, its still a normal life. There have been times when Iâ€™ve wished for a quieter time, especially during my various relationship breakups and breakdowns â€¦ but thatâ€™s the press. You want them to come and ask you about all your current projects and to take you to exotic places to run features and interviews, and so itâ€™s hard to then claim that you want total privacy when it suits you. Acting is a give-and-take profession â€¦
Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?
Every actor has those! Iâ€™d love to do a sitcom, something funny and quirky that I could really get my teeth into, and also a Western. Aside from my love of horses and the thought of spending all day riding and tending them, Iâ€™m a great fan of The Duke, John Wayne, and to do something like that would really appeal to me.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Iâ€™ve just finished a tour in Panto â€“ my 28th on the trot, Iâ€™m slowly catching up with Don Mclean! â€“ Iâ€™m now taking a little time off to promote the book in Britain and in Los Angeles at the end of February. Iâ€™m also developing a touring stage show, which I hope might happen this year if all goes well.
Very many thanks to Fraser for taking the time to speak to us. Fraser Hines’ book, Hines Sight, is currently available for Â£25.00 (plus p&p) – signed copies can be purchased from www.frazerhines.co.uk!