Andrew: What is your favourite film?  
Oliver: This is always a difficult question as there are so many films I have enjoyed and admired. To pick out individual films:

Seven Samurai; by Akiro Kurosawa

Ballad of a Soldier; a Russian film

Napoleon; by Abel Gance

Lawrence of Arabia; by David Lean

Some like it Hot, by Billy Wilder

 
     
Rosie: Which of your acting roles has been your favourite and least favourite to perform and do you particularly identify with any of the characters as being close to your own personality?  
Oliver:

I have enjoyed almost every role I've had - except for a character in the television series "Boon", I can't remember the name now but it wasn't a good role. Choosing a favourite one is difficult because I get involved in all of them. There are so many aspects to human personality; as an actor I get the chance to play lots of different characters and I've found all of them rewarding. I would have to point to "Arthur of the Britons" as a favourite, and also Lord Illingworth in Oscar Wilde's "A Woman of No Importance". I do enjoy playing the baddie - human weakness is often more interesting than human strength.

As for a character that resembles myself, there is probably something of my own personality in all the characters I play. I don't think there is one character that is particularly like me, but the role in which I felt most comfortable was as Melchior Anderegg in Fay Weldon's "Mountain Men". In this film I played a Swiss mountain guide and it was shot in Zermatt, Switzerland, which is near my home.

 
     
Stephen: I'm a great fan of the series "Arthur of the Britons" that Oliver made in the Seventies. Do you know if it has ever been released on Video/DVD?  
Oliver: Arthur of the Britons is available on DVD since Spring 2008.  
     
Karen: I have read a magazine article which said that the boat used in "Smuggler" was an authentic period fishing boat specially built for the series, and that it was the first of its kind to be made for fifty years.  
Oliver:

Yes, the boat in question was built just outside Bristol in the traditional way. The pattern was drawn on the floor and the boat built up using clinker construction.

What makes this type of boat special is that it can be safely beached and subsequently sailed off the beach. It had three shallow skegs rather than a keel so it would sit upright on land, and a hinged rudder for sailing in very shallow water.

I have been sailing since I was a child, and I enjoyed the sailing sequences in "Smuggler". The RNLI were a great help, providing us with a platform for filming at sea and of course vital safety coverage.

 
     
Stephanie: I always used to watch "Smuggler". Thank you for your performance in this TV series. I always enjoyed it very much. You worked amongst others with Hywel Williams-Ellis. Is he still an actor too?  
Oliver: I remember Hywel very well, he played the role of Honest Evans and he was a very talented actor. He was also a lot of fun and a pleasure to work with. One of his most memorable sayings was "A bottom without spots is like a sky without stars", which I used myself in a recent interview. Unfortunately, I lost touch with Hywel after "Smuggler", so I'm afraid I don't know what he is doing now.  
     
June:

In "Smuggler" the episode "STRAW MAN" there is an amazing scene where you are fighting with sword in front of a big house, at one point you leave the ground and when I use the pause button on the dvd you are suspended about 3ft. off the ground. Do you remember the filming of this? And was it remarked on at the time as being a brilliant piece of sword-play?

 
Oliver:

My swordmaster and I had to train for weeks to get the fights, which were carefully choreographed, to that level. Training usually took place when I was not wanted on set. I lived in a motorhome on location so I could be available to train for these stunts etc. I was a very fit man at the time and arguably the best swashbuckler of my time. Some of the fight sequences I was involved in were used for training purposes by the UK Stunt organisation.

 
   
Shirley:

Myself and some fellow Arthur and Smuggler fans, were talking about the colour of your hair in these two programmes, some say black, some say brown. I would be very pleased indeed if you could settle this little argument for me ( it's all in good fun!!!!!)

 
Oliver:

My hair in both series was a very dark brown and it still is, although I am beginning to go grey at the sides!

 
     
June:

The Romance of a Horsethief is my very favourite film, can you tell me if the film was shown in England and did it get good reviews? I thought it was a really beautiful film, full of warmth and charm, I enjoyed your acting as Zanvil.

 
Oliver:

It was the first big film I ever took part in. I had come straight out of the musical Hair in London's West End. I felt very privileged to work with such greats as Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Abraham Polonki directed it and it was a United Artist Film. It was internationally released at that time and I imagine would have been shown in England too.

I learned some trick riding from a Cossack troop that took part, what I learned from them (Horsemanship) made me able to perform the horse stunts in Pity She's a Whore and later Arthur of the Britons. The film was made in the old Yugoslavia in 1971! I am glad you liked it.

 
     
June & Shirley:

We thought THE SAXON LONGBOAT in the episode "THE PRIZE" was really beautiful, can you tell me what happened to the boat when ARTHUR finished, was it built specially or did it come from a museum?

 
Oliver:

I believe it was built for the series and given away to some society or museum afterwards, I just cannot remember exactly where it ended up.

 
     
June:

Did your rock group make any recordings in the sixties? If so, can you tell me the titles?

 
Oliver:

Unfortunately we never got to record anything. All we did was play live gigs and tour Switzerland and Germany.

 
     
Micaela: You had said something about having a belief in reincarnation in a 1970's interview. I also have a very strong belief and I have had spontaneous memories since I was a child (I'm now 35). Have you had any memories and/or past life regression hypnosis? Thanks, and lots of love.  
Oliver:

My beliefs on this subject are closer to traditional Maori beliefs about the legacy of one's ancestors. Some people claim to come from an "old" family, but everyone alive today can claim an ancestry stretching back into prehistory. Each one of us is at the end of a long line, and I believe that in some way we embody our predecessors.

Personally, I have not had any memories of a previous life. I have had déjà vu experiences where I feel a connection with a particular person or place, and I feel that these could be linked to my ancestry - that as well as inheriting physical and mental attributes through our genes, we also inherit less tangible qualities such as our sense for when something feels "right" without being able to explain why.

 
     
Karen: Oliver, in Arthur of the Britains you worked with another of my favourite actors, Brian Blessed. I wondered if you and he had crossed paths in recent years, and what was he like to work with?  
Oliver:

Unfortunately, I have not met up with Brian since we filmed "Arthur" together. I had hoped to meet him at the opening night party for "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" in London, but I just missed him. (Brian played Baron Bomburst of Vulgaria in the production.)

I remember the time we worked together with great affection. Brian always had a great sense of humour and was a wonderful boisterous, happy person. He played the bullish Mark of Cornwall in the "Arthur" series, a natural leader who only reluctantly accepts Arthur, and he was a joy to work with.

 
     
Jenny: Have you ever had any psychic or paranormal experiences?  
Oliver:

Yes, I have had some experiences which I could not fully explain. While filming Arthur of the Britons in the west country, I saw a bright light in the sky which I believe may have been a UFO. There have also been occasions where I am sure I've seen a ghost, including one very frightening experience at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.

Your question prompted me to write a fuller account of my experiences.

 
     
 
last update: 5. February 2011 / ot
 
     
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