Oliver Savell stars as Young Alan Carr in the autobiographical scripted comedy Changing Ends, based on Alan Carr’s life growing up in the 1980s, which premiered on ITVX on 1st June, and will have a release on ITV1 at a later date. After filming a taster of Changing Ends, Oliver found out he’d booked his role for the full series when Alan told him the news in person, and Oliver worked alongside a cast including his on-screen family Shaun Dooley (as Graham Carr), Nancy Sullivan (as Christine Carr) and Taylor Fay (as Gary Carr), with Alan Carr also featuring throughout the series. At this year’s British Soap Awards, Oliver, alongside his on-screen father Shaun, presented the award for Best Storyline, and he has previously filmed The Piper as Colin (not yet released) and as Ronnie Boyd in Belfast, marking his first film role, for which he was directed by Kenneth Branagh. Also having stage experience, Oliver most recently played Harry in Force Majeure at the Donmar Warehouse last year, and made his professional stage debut in Appropriate in 2019, and he is represented by Mark Jermin Management. Chatting to us, Oliver answered our questions about filming for the ITV series Changing Ends, starring as Young Alan Carr in the autobiographical scripted comedy and playing Harry in Force Majeure at Donmar Warehouse.
You star as Young Alan Carr in the new ITV/ITVX series Changing Ends, can you tell us about the show?
It’s set in the 80s when Alan started secondary school. When he gets to that age, he gets bullied at school because his dad’s the manager of Northampton Football Club and they’re doing badly, but mainly because he’s different to the other boys. He doesn’t realise he’s gay at that point but just knows that he’s different to them. The story shows that you don’t have to be like everyone else and that you should always be yourself.
What was it like working with Alan Carr and how was it portraying a younger version of him for his new series?
He’s really funny and such a lovely guy. He really put me at ease and was so encouraging and he gave me the freedom to put my own spin on Young Alan. He would just give me tips every now and again about how to say certain words.
Can you tell us how you felt finding out you’d booked the role when Alan Carr came to your house to tell you the news?
I was so, so, so, so happy. As I walked into the room and saw the camera and Alan sitting down, I knew that he had come to give me good news. I was buzzing! I had waited ages to find out it was being made after we had filmed the taster and I was worried I would be too big by the time it happened so I was so relieved as I wanted to do it so much.
How did you prepare for filming and how was it getting into character?
I watched all episodes of a TV series Alan presents called There’s Something About Movies and also some episodes of Chatty Man. I also had a few sessions with a really great voice coach who really helped me get the voice of Alan. He told me how to move my mouth like Alan and other small details. I then did lots of work with Dave (Lambert), the director, on how to not sound like a caricature. He really helped me to bring myself into the role, so I was technically Alan with a bit of Ollie thrown in. The more I got used to doing the voice, the more natural it felt playing that character and I didn’t feel like I was being over the top anymore. Also, the teeth really helped me to get into character!
How did you find the experience on set of the 1980s-based show and filming with the rest of the cast?
It was BRILLIANT!!!!!! I love the 1980s because of TV shows and movies like Stranger Things and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. On my second day on set, we started filming in the house, so I got to see my room. It was amazing, the props people did such an incredible job. There were even movie tickets from the 80s on my desk and there was a sketch of Jessica Fletcher. There was a toy called click and catch and I played it with Pink, my chaperone every day. The great thing about filming is you meet such brilliant people from the cast and crew. You grow such good relationships with everybody since you are with them so much. When we were filming outside, it was -4 degrees, and because it was summer in the show we had to wear summer clothes. That was really tough but I still loved it.
I really enjoyed filming with all the other kids. We all got on so well. I also loved filming with my family, Shaun (Dooley), Nancy (Sullivan) and Taylor (Fay). Nancy was so nice and encouraging, we would muck around with Shaun in between takes and Taylor felt like a brother from the first day! All the cast were amazing and I was so lucky to work with them.
Do you have any favourite highlights from filming as Young Alan Carr?
There was a scene where I dance to Tell It To My Heart. That had to be my most favourite scene in the whole show. The school scenes were also really fun as there were so many kids and we would play basketball at break times. It was always good to have a change of scenery and meet new people when we moved location.
What has it been like seeing the viewers’ response to the release and who do you think will enjoy watching Changing Ends?
I have been told by other actors in the past not to read reviews, as they can be very harsh and hurtful but the reviews for Changing Ends have been great so my mum’s shown them to me and it feels so good to know other people think I did ok.
How was it attending the ITVX Comedy Showcase and the Changing Ends screening in May, and how did you feel watching the completed episodes for the first time?
One of the best nights of my life. I watch The IT Crowd a lot so when I heard Katherine Parkinson was coming, I was so excited and I met her and got a photo with her.
I was very nervous because they were showing the trailer and I was worried about what reaction it might get, but it felt so good when everyone was laughing the whole way through. I loved going up on stage and talking about Changing Ends with Alan, Shaun and Nancy. They made me feel so comfortable.
At this year’s British Soap Awards, you presented the Best Storyline Award with your co-star/on-screen father Shaun Dooley, how was this?
It was very surreal standing up on that stage giving an award. When I walked out, I just couldn’t believe that I was there. The stage looked amazing and so many people were sitting in the audience. The award was really heavy and I am really clumsy so I made Shaun hold it! It was really great seeing Shaun again and going up there with him.
You are in the cast of the upcoming feature film The Piper as Colin, is there anything you can say about this and what are you looking forward to for the release?
I am so excited for the release. We filmed two years ago and I don’t know when it will be released in the UK but I can’t wait to see it. We were in Bulgaria filming for six weeks and I loved the experience of being in Bulgaria and I loved every minute of filming. I was really lucky to meet so many amazing people. My character is very different to Alan so I am really excited for people to see him.
What was it like playing Ronnie Boyd in Belfast for your first film role?
I really enjoyed hanging out with all the other kids playing UNO and other games. I was quite nervous because of the fact it was my first film and I didn’t want to seem like a bad actor. Kenneth Branagh was really nice and I felt free to ask him questions on how I should play my character. I also loved the costumes!
On stage, you most recently played Harry in Force Majeure at Donmar Warehouse, what did you enjoy most about performing in the play and what was the show like to be part of?
The cast were so nice and so talented and I learnt so much from all the other actors. I really liked the fact it was such a big part as well. Bo (Bragason), who played my sister, and me really enjoyed fighting on the stage. The set was amazing. It was set on a ski slope with fake snow and we got to ski at the end, which was so fun. Also, the play was a comedy and I really enjoyed making people laugh.
What are some of your stand-out memories from making your professional stage debut in Appropriate as Ainsley in 2019?
It was such a brilliant play. There was a lot of swearing and arguing, which made it very funny for nine-year-old me! The story touched on many sensitive subjects. Ola Ince, who directed the play, wanted me and Orlando (Roddy) to learn about slavery in America and what messages were being given in the play. On our first rehearsal, we did an improvisation with the family and made pizza, which was so fun. I loved the cast so much, they were all so talented. I would quote their lines to them without the swear words!
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you get into it?
When I was young, I loved impersonating Tom Hardy’s Bane from The Dark Knight Rises and The Joker. I also loved pretending to be James Bond and I would often wear a suit that my parents bought me for a wedding. I then went to Stagecoach and realised how much I loved acting and, when I was nine, my acting teacher said to my parents if I wanted to they should think about signing me up with an agent so I have him to thank!
Do you have any favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I love all the Star Wars movies, DC movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Stranger Things, The Big Bang Theory, Friends, The IT Crowd and any movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. I love playing basketball, I’ve started kickboxing, I do gaming with my friends and I love playing the piano.
Have you been given any advice over your time as an actor so far that has stuck with you?
Play it smaller when doing TV and film as the camera catches very subtle movements and facial expressions. Never look at the camera. Also, listen to the other person as your reaction to other characters is just as important as when you’re speaking. Also, don’t take it personally if you don’t get a role as you do lots of auditions and it’s only a very small number of roles that you are right for. It’s really important to stick at it.
Do you have any projects coming up that you can tell us about and what are you hoping 2023 brings for your career?
Nothing yet. I’m really hoping for a Series 2 of Changing Ends. Other than that, I’ve been doing some auditions.
Oliver Savell is represented by Mark Jermin Management markjerminmanagement.co.uk/
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