Robson Green on escaping a life in the pits and why he thinks Simon Cowell is a genius
PUBLISHED: 19:42 11 September 2012 | UPDATED: 12:13 28 February 2013
Robson Green recalls the moment he knew a change in direction was needed, as Stephen Milton reports
Robson Green recalls a point in his brief stint as a pop star when he knew it was time to call it a day. I remember singing on stage at the Royal Variety Performance with Jerome Flynn and suddenly, from out of nowhere, being filled with this immense feeling of humiliation, he chuckles heartily. There we were, squawking away in front of Elton John, David Bowie and Bon Jovi all of them staring at us, probably thinking Who are these nuggets? Is this a joke?
It certainly wasnt a joke for Simon Cowell, then an unknown RCA executive, who wagered his whole career on the success of the warbling Soldier Soldier heartthrobs.
As we now know, he backed a winning horse and, during the mid-1990s, Robson and Jerome were the top-selling crooners in the country, with 1.9million purchases of Unchained Melody keeping the Geordie duo at number one for seven weeks. I like to call it my own personal Vietnam War, Green jokes in his exclusive interview with North East Life. I call it that because no matter how hard I try, I cant escape it.
Artistically, it wasnt the greatest choice I ever made, although its given me financial stability beyond my wildest dreams. And in turn I was able to invest in true artistic talent in the North East with my production company Coastal, giving people in the area a chance to do what they love.
And what of Cowell, someone else who went on to forge a neat little career for himself? Simon Cowell is one of the smartest men Ive ever encountered, a genius of his day. Im so grateful he opened those doors for me. Jerome and I were pure novelty, but no-one had thought of doing something like that. Simon did.
But you eventually come down from the high. And when my mum called me one evening to tell me Rolf Harris was on Animal Hospital looking after two hamsters called Robson and Jerome, I thought, Jesus, Ive hit an all-time low here. Thats when I knew I had to stop. As I remember it, Robson had a dicky leg. I hope he got it sorted.
Green cuts a dashing figure in a light grey three-piece suit and co-ordinated open-necked charcoal shirt. Remarkably unscathed by the passing of time, and sporting a deep tan from a recent shoot in Africa for the new series of his Channel 5 show Extreme Fishing, the actor easily looks a decade younger than his 47 years.
Id say thats because of all the time I spent working outside, but surely that should age you more? he laughs. It could be that my days growing up as a scallywag in Dudley gave me a good start.
The son of a miner in the small North Tyneside village, a young Robson knew his fate lay in the bright lights rather than the dark, dull echoes of the coalface. My dads greatest wish was for me to never spend so much as two minutes down a mine, let alone the 40 years he was sentenced to, he says.
When I was a kid, I used to see my dad come home dead shattered after his shift, his body so dirty and black. It was scary to see his bath water. So when I grew up and moved away, I felt as if Id escaped.
Green had a bright happy childhood around his two sisters Dawn and Joanna, and it was when he attended Dudley Middle School that a teacher inspired his love for the stage.
Howard Beckett, Mr Beckett, told me You were born to perform. He was the musical director and I loved him because he shaped my future at a school set in the middle of coal mines. If you looked out the window, that was what was ahead for you.
After leaving school, and while working at the shipyards, Green was spotted by a casting director in an amateur production of Tom Hadaways The Long Line. It promptly earned the actor his Equity card. I knew then that acting was what I wanted to do full-time, it was my passion.
Since Soldier Soldier, Green has rarely been off our screens, bouncing between BBC and ITV series such as Reckless, Rocket Man, Wire in the Blood, Waterloo Road and Being Human and next hell star in the second season of the Sky sitcom Mount Pleasant.
Currently single after parting ways with former model Vanya Seagar, with whom he has a 12-year-old son, Taylor, Green splits his time between a Surrey home in West Clandon and his cottage on Coquet Island near Amble.
I fell in love with Surrey many years ago but it will never compete with the North East. Im always relaxed when Im back. Its where I belong its home. Its my roots and my sense of identity it means everything to me.
I love my home on the Coquet, walking in the Northumbrian hills and on the beaches with my son. Its a sense of belonging so I really love to spend my time there.
Its important to remain close to where you came from.