Actor Raif Clarke guest-starred in the 30th anniversary episode of TV drama Casualty and can be seen in the latest series of CBBC’s So Awkward where he plays the role of Sid. Currently, Raif is appearing on stage in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Macbeth at Stratford-Upon-Avon before heading to Barbican London on the 15th October. Talking to Raif recently, he told us about appearing in Casualty, working with RSC and his new role on So Awkward.
Can you remember much about your first acting experience?
Well, my first bit of acting was in a school play. We were in year four, studying Henry VIII and did our own version of the “This is your life” Horrible Histories sketch about him. I was playing Henry and my teacher told my parents that I was quite funny, so my Nan made me a costume and they all came to watch it. My Nan did costume for Newcastle Amateur Operatic Society in Stoke, and they were putting on a production of Goodnight Mr Tom. I auditioned and got the part of Will Beech, and from then acting just became something I loved doing, like it was a hobby for me. My parents then put me up for an open audition for “Eric and Ernie” by Victoria Wood, and I went in and did some acting and some comedy. I got a recall and ended up getting to like the last two or something but didn’t get it. I wasn’t really that sad about it, I just enjoyed doing it really, but then a few months later, Victoria called my parents and said she was directing a play – That Day We Sang – and she remembered me and wanted me to audition. I went up for it and I got it, and I don’t think I’d ever been that excited in my life! I was absolutely buzzing. To work with Victoria was truly incredible, and I thoroughly believe I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her. Working on That Day We Sang is a time I’ll never forget I really learnt so much, but still found myself having the same joy I had when I was acting in Stoke, I just still loved doing it. If anything it just got even more fun. At the press night Michelle Braidman asked me if I like football, and I said yes. Football was my other love but to be honest I wasn’t great! Sunday league at best for sure! She then told me there was a football film called “Believe” being filmed in Manchester, and the audition was in a few days. She asked me if I wanted to audition and of course I did! I was so excited to go up for it and luckily I got a part in that too! She then congratulated me and ended up representing me as my agent, and I’m still with that agency now. Massive shoutout to the wonderful Rebecca Kirby, Nicola Whitworth, and Michelle Braidman!
What was it like filming your episode of Casualty?
Casualty was fun, especially with it being the 30th anniversary it was a very special atmosphere on set, it felt kind of historic in a way.
Can you tell us about the character you played Kai Swift?
Kai is a teenager whose parents have gone through a rough divorce. He’s living with his mum, but his dad is constantly showering him in gifts to gain his affection. One of these gifts happens to be a drone. I’ll leave that there…
Who did you spend the most time with on set?
Funnily enough my Grandad! He was my chaperone for that job because my parents couldn’t make it. We had so much fun together and so many jokes. Besides him, probably the director Steve Hughes who was absolutely lovely.
Can you tell us about your episode of Moving On?
I was in the episode “Neighbour”. I was only in the one scene so it was more of an opportunity for me to see things from an outside perspective. Just to really see how things work on a set, to really take it in.
How did the UK tour of The Full Monty go?
The tour was so much fun! It was great seeing so many different cities and performing to different audiences from different places every night was incredible. It was a fun show and it had a very special audience atmosphere that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before!
Would you like to do more UK tours?
Well funnily I am! I’m currently working with the RSC and our production of Romeo & Juliet is going on a UK tour in 2019! Check out the RSC’s website if you’d like more information on where we’re going to and when! It’s a truly wonderful production and something I’m so proud to be in, and it’s an honour to work with such a wonderful, talented company. We’re all so proud of this show and it’s truly an honour to perform it.
How have you found working on Macbeth?
Macbeth has been so much fun, and again a true honour. I’ve learnt so much on both of these jobs, it almost feels weird talking about them separately!
What’s it like acting alongside the rest of the cast including Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack?
Not only are these some of the finest actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with but I can truly say I’ve made friends for life here, which just makes acting with them all the more fun. Niamh Cusack is one of the most lovely and talented people I’ve ever met. I remember in rehearsals in Clapham she kept on calling me Raph and I just let it slide because I didn’t have the heart to correct her! She came up to me one day and said “I can’t believe it, I’ve been saying your name wrong, it’s Raif!” and I said as a joke she could call me anything even Greg, she replied only if you call me Greg and we have called each other that ever since! She’s truly an inspiration and it’s so amazing that I get to work with her. Christopher Eccleston is a hero of mine as I grew up watching Doctor Who. Really his series of Doctor Who is the first bit of television that wasn’t animated that I can remember. I had an action figure of him and a sonic screwdriver and I used to run around pretending to be Doctor Who, so to be working with him now is surreal. I had to tell him how much I looked up to him and I decided to do it on the first day of rehearsals on Macbeth so it was off my chest. I told him and he said I needed to show him the toy and the sonic screwdriver, he was so lovely about it. I told my Dad and he brought them down to London when I saw him at Euston. I brought them into rehearsals the day after and showed him and he said we needed to get a picture for my Dad, and it’s still my Dad’s lock screen! Working with him is incredible because I truly look up to him, so being able to say that I am in the same show as him is something I’m truly proud to say.
What was it like appearing in Macbeth whilst it was broadcast live in cinemas?
It was amazing but genuinely it just felt like doing any other show of Macbeth. It’s done in such a brilliant way where it looks amazing but it doesn’t change anything for us, which I think truly makes it a great viewing experience. It was sick to see how many people watched it!
Do you have any roles coming up in the next few months?
I’m currently playing Sid in series four of So Awkward which is out now on iPlayer and on CBBC every Thursday!
How long were you filming So Awkward?
We filmed in Salford for three months last summer.
Had you worked with CBBC previously?
I hadn’t actually, so it was a first!
What was your experience like on set?
It was really fun, and interesting as I’d never played a series regular before. All of the cast are lovely and I’ve hung out with them since. Archie Lyndhurst is like a brother to me so a special shout out to him! The show’s got such a dedicated fan base too it’s brilliant to see and an honour to be a part of.
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