Over the last five years, Archie Lyndhurst has been playing the role of Ollie Coulton in So Awkward on CBBC since the start of the first series, and has seen the show win a Children’s BAFTA Award and he has been a guest at CBBC Summer Social. Archie filmed as a lead character for an episode of Casualty and has played a Young Jack Whitehall on numerous occasions, which has included appearing as Young Alfie Wickers in Bad Education. Away from acting, Archie has created his own clothing line called Fated to Pretend which started from him being a skater and being into streetwear. We sat down with Archie a few weeks ago to chat about filming as Ollie in So Awkward, playing a Young Jack Whitehall and his clothing line Fated to Pretend.
Can you tell us about your character Ollie Coulton in So Awkward?
Ollie originated as a filmmaker in the pilot episode, and he was actually called Sam, so I was playing a completely different character. He also wasn’t that intelligent. When the series came about, they changed my character to be a lot more intelligent and a lot more intense, and he became a lot more practical about the way he handles situations and friendships.
Do you remember how you felt going on set for your first day filming for CBBC?
Yes, I was made to feel really welcome by the rest of the cast. We’d never met before and we were given two days to rehearse, read through the script and get to know each other. By the time we got on set, we were a lot more comfortable so I was really grateful to CBBC for letting us have those few days in Manchester to get to know each other.
What’s it like appearing in a long-running show?
There’s a comfortability to it after a while. In the first series, you’re trying to get your character on their feet, then you’re a bit more familiar in the second series, and then the third, fourth and fifth, you know exactly what you’re doing. You realise that you are there to do your job and you know how you are going to do it so you can get it done with a lot of ease.
How do you find working with the rest of the cast?
I got on really well with all of the cast. On a night out with Cleo Demetriou, who plays Lily, she became my godsister, haha! I’ve lived with a lot of them and I’m in a ten-month relationship with one of the cast members. I love all of them equally.
The show won a Children’s BAFTA Award in 2018, how rewarding was this?
This was a big one for all of us. We realised that the show had reached so many people and winning a BAFTA made us all really proud of what we were doing. It showed all of us what we’d been working so hard towards and made us want to keep going. We worked doubly as hard to try and win again.
What was CBBC Summer Social like to attend?
It was really interesting attending Summer Social. I’m used to being recognised in the street and having people come up to say hello, but I had no idea how to handle it when masses of people were screaming our names! I’ve been in situations where it’s happened to my dad, but it’s never happened to me personally, so when it did happen I was honestly quite overwhelmed. I had a real sense of happiness and I was proud of myself and what I’d achieved.
You’ve appeared on CBBC’s Ultimate Brain, can you tell us about your episode?
Haha, we did really badly! We had a challenge where we had to make a certain noise with a bottle. I said to my partner that if we did it a certain way, we’d win, and he said that was wrong so we did it his way and we lost! A thirteen year old made fun of me and I knew that was rock bottom!
You played the guest lead, Elliot in Casualty, how was this?
That was probably one of my favourite jobs I’ve done since So Awkward. One of the So Awkward directors emailed me and asked if I’d like to come in and read for Casualty and I was more than happy to. I felt a connection to the character because he was quite troubled, and I really want to branch out and do more drama, so I worked as hard as I could to work on it. Being on set of Casualty was a lot more dramatic to what I’m used to, so it was very new.
You’ve played Young Jack Whitehall and also his character in Bad Education, what were these like to do?
Jack’s funny! He saw my audition tape when I was eleven and him and his mum emailed me a picture of Jack when he was eleven and we looked so similar, I knew that if I didn’t get this job, I didn’t know what was going on! I ended up getting it and me and Jack got on really well, and we still do. Since then, he just keeps asking me to do things… I don’t know why!
We understand you’re releasing a clothing line called Fated to Pretend, can you tell us more about this?
Yes, Fated to Pretend started when I was seventeen years old and it came from me being a skater and being into streetwear. I had originally decided to make my own skateboard company as I wasn’t really interested in making clothes. When I was eighteen, I started going through my life and I thought I could make something creative. I channeled the problems I was having in my life into Fated to Pretend. I created this brand from my own pain and from my own life and that’s why it’s so personal to me, and why I’m so passionate about what I’m doing. Fated to Pretend is always going to be the biggest passion project I’ll ever work on. I’m going to keep working on it until the day I die because I adore it.
When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I knew I wanted to be an actor when I was eight. At the time, I didn’t know my dad was an actor, and he kept trying to say to me that I shouldn’t start acting. I then found out that he was an actor and said that if he can do it, I can do it as well! That didn’t change anything though as he still wouldn’t let me do it. He eventually asked me why I wanted to be an actor, and I said it’s because I wanted to make people laugh. He then sent me to drama school, I got my first agent, I started getting work, and now I’m here. I’m incredibly grateful for everything I’ve been given.
What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of having a screen career?
I think my favourite aspect of it is that I can entertain people. Sometimes when I come off a job, I think I could have worked harder or done something a bit better, and then I get a letter or an email from a fan saying they’ve enjoyed my work. That’s my favourite aspect of it, being able to receive that appreciation. It makes me feel good and want to do it even more.
I’ve never really thought about the worst part. I adore what I do and I’m incredibly lucky for doing what I do at such a young age. If I had to say the worst part, it would probably be watching myself back… I can’t do it! I never watch myself back unless I absolutely have to.
Can you tell us about attending ArtsEd?
I wasn’t there for very long. I was there for five weeks and I was in hospital for quite a lot of it, and also working. ArtsEd, from what I gather, is a very good school and I enjoyed my short time there. I still talk to the teachers and I get on really well with all of them, but it wasn’t for me.
What are your upcoming acting plans?
I’m currently working on an independent play called Tracers. I was contacted by an old director of mine, and a group of us boys who went to school with him have got together to create a Vietnam war play. It’s the first time it’s ever been done in this country. It was written by six Vietnam veterans when they came back from Vietnam. One of the actor’s brothers originally performed it in LA when it first came on and he fell in love with the play. That love is spread around all of us and we are really passionate about this play. We’re performing it this month in Islington.
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