EastEnders Barry star got mixed up in real life assassination plot to kill Queen
EastEnders star Shaun Williamson has revealed that he got mixed up in a real-life plot to kill the Queen.
The actor – famous as hapless Barry Evans in EastEnders – said was he was a trainee postie when a workmate was arrested over a murder bid on Her Majesty.
Shaun, 54, explained: “The job title was postal cadet and this involved us having to go to college on a Monday for business studies, which I absolutely hated.
“I was sat next to a surly, uncommunicative youth and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get any meaningful conversation out of him.
“At the time I was reading The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, which is the story of an attempt to kill the French president, Charles de Gaulle. I left it on my desk and went to get a cup of tea and when I came back it had gone.
“The lad was the only other person in the room so I asked him if he had my book, to which he grunted a negative. I was convinced he’d taken it but I couldn’t be sure and, as it was a second-hand copy, I let it slide.
“The following week the papers were full of an attempt to kill the Queen during the Trooping the Colour. Apparently, a 17-year-old fired shots as the Queen passed and was apprehended before he could do any harm.
“And the identity of the gunman? Yes, my mate from college!
“He was jailed for several years and the court heard he had a morbid interest in assassinations. Bloody good job I didn’t demand my book back!”
Later when he was a star on EastEnders, Shaun said he met The Queen and Prince Philip on the Albert Square set – and discovered the Duke of Edinburgh was not a fan.
He said: “Tony (Caunter, who played Roy Evans) asked the prince if he watched the show: ‘Saw it once. Everybody shouting at each other! I couldn’t understand a bloody word!’
“Wow! Royal approval indeed! That the prince wasn’t a fan was summed up when he was introduced to Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale), our longest-serving cast member. ‘Are you an actor or an operator?’ We didn’t rib him TOO much about that. Honest!”
In his new book A Matter of Facts, Shaun also confessed that when he first starred as car salesman Barry – he couldn’t actually drive.
He added: “I remember in the early days before I passed my test, the abject humiliation of the driving scenes.
“An extra dressed in exactly the same clothes as me, same build, same level of baldness, would tear around a corner of Albert Square in Barry’s latest sporty motor and screech to a halt next to an unsuspecting David (Wicks).
“The director would then shout, ‘Cut’, I would swap places with the extra (turning off the ignition for insurance purposes), deliver my dialogue in swaggering fashion to ‘Wicksy’, the director would shout, ‘Cut’ and the extra would drive away. How embarrassing is that?
“A few weeks later I was filmed having a mobile-phone conversation in the driver’s seat of an automatic car and when the call ended three of the props lads were positioned to push me past a camera, with the sound of the engine to be dubbed on in post-production.
“All I had to do was turn the wheel and glide gracefully past the cameraman who would, in turn, shout, ‘Cut’ when the props lads came into view.
“Easy, except for the fact that the steering wheel wouldn’t turn without the key in the ignition. The cameraman watched wide-eyed as I hurtled towards him, giving him the option of saving himself or the camera.
“At the last second, taking his cue from my panic-stricken face, he chose survival and the BBC was minus one camera. The order came down from our Head Producer, Jane ‘Bomber’ Harris. ‘Learn how to drive… NOW.’ I did.”
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