Reece took good advice from Morse actor, and always keeps them guessing
In a long and distinguished career Yorkshire actor Reece Dinsdale has had more lines to learn than he cares to remember.
But one in particular has stuck with him over the last 35 years and it did not come from the pages of a play, a film, radio or television script.
It came as advice from his late friend, Morse actor John Thaw whose son he played across five years in the late 1980s, early 90s in the Yorkshire Television hit sitcom Home to Roost.
John told me: “ ‘Always keep coming out of a different corner and always keep them guessing’. And to a degree that’s how I’ve tried to progress my career,” he says.
A look at Reece’s CV confirms this. Right from his first foray on stage after graduating from Guildhall School of Drama he has mixed his workload between cinema, television, radio, stage and now increasingly on the other side of the camera as a director.
“I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved. Comedy, high drama, radio, soap and directing. The profession has been very good to me,” he says.
This week his career took another upward turn when he was invited to join a select group of patrons, including Sally Wainwright, George Costigan, Natalie Gavin, Glen Baxter, Timothy West and Sirs Alan Bowness and Ernest Hall, at Square Chapel Arts centre, Halifax - which is positively revelling in a £6 million facelift and extention.
“I am ashamed to say I had never been there before. But it is a real gem, restored and extended with its cafe and cinema and a great performance space.
“I am so proud to have been asked and hopefully at some stage I can get my hands dirty and do a show there,” he said.
He always wanted to become an actor, he says, from the time as a 12-year-old he was forced to take part in a school production when another pupil got ill. And from then, as he puts it “I wouldn’t be swayed”.
But achieving his goal was not straight forward. Acting as a career was almost unheard of in Reece’s hometown Normanton. Reece’s dad was a mine worker turned factory worker and mum was a health visitor so there was little help they could offer, only bags of encouragement.
There wasn’t too much help at his school Normanton Grammar either.
“Every time I was asked I would say I wanted to be an actor and people would look and laugh and say ‘don’t be ridiculous’,” he said.
Aged almost 18 he successfully auditioned for Guildhall School of Music and Drama and moved to London where he spent the next three years learning his trade (and doing a bit of growing up).
“I was young for my age and those three years not only taught me how to act but how to hold my own. I had a lot to learn,” he said.
But it paid dividends and not only did Reece end up with a career that would put his name in lights but he also met his wife to be, Northern Irish actress (now turned therapist) Zara Turner. The couple who live in Harrogate have two children Elwy (16) and Luca (13).
There have been many highlights in an illustrious career which so far spans 37 years. He achieved great notices and won an award at the Geneva Film Festival for the film ID in which he played an undercover policeman working to expose football hooligans.
And there was his part as Guildenstern opposite Timothy Spall in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s cinema production of Hamlet.
Home to Roost brings back fond memories and there have been numerous stage performances.
There was the 18 months he spent as Joe McIntyre on Coronation Street working with “brilliant performers”.
And the play Wild Oats stands out too. This was the very first performance at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Reece was the lead Jack Rover and it began a 27 year love affair with the place.
“When I was offered the opportunity I asked my father’s advice on taking the job. I’ll never forget what he told me - ‘it’ll be like opening the batting for Yorkshire’, which I think just about said it all,” he says.
Just two years ago the relationship was cemented still further when Reece became the first actor to be made an Associate Artist at the Playhouse, reflecting his hard work and support for the theatre scene in the area.
His next role takes him there again in Zinnie Harris’s updated version of Ibsen’s The Master Builder which goes into rehearsals in a months time.
He is excited by the project but admits it does throw up a problem.
Reece is an avid Huddersfield Town fan, the third generation of Dinsdales to have supported the club (his grandfather watched the great Town team of the 1920s) and now relishing the team’s promotion to the Premier league.
But when Huddersfield line up for arguably their biggest game in more than 45 years against Manchester United, he may be on stage at the Playhouse.
“I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed the game is switched from Saturday to Sunday. Work always comes first but it would be awful to miss that one,” he says.