The Life and Times of a cheeky chappie...

Have you noticed how every school has its token "naughty" boy, complete with impish smile and a sore bum from regular whackings with a rubber plimmie? And have you noticed how they're all called Wayne? That's probably why the writers of the TV series "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" named their lovable cockney rogue that. As Gary Holton who plays the character says, "Everyone loves a cheeky chappie". And everybody loved Wayne - much to Holton's delight because he's now reaping the material benefits from it.


Once a singer with an infamous rock band and with many a token London-boy role behind him, Holton was most recently seen gracing our screens as the Tennants' lager man. "I'm sure playing Wayne had something to do with me getting it" he says. "It was a case of "Ahey - we've got a mush here!" And they can get me cheaper than the established actors as well", he continues, which would probably help too. It all goes to make Gary one of the busiest actors around. Not only is he starring in the West End musical "Pump Boys and Dinettes" with Kiki Dee and Paul Jones, but he's just released a cover of the Perry Como song "Catch a Falling Star". It's a far cry from the mid-seventies when he was lead singer with the outrageous Heavy Metal Kids.

At that time, Gary was seen carrying a decapitated head in a bucket whilst wearing the occasional tin hat. And that was one of the more tasteful stunts he got up to - all done in the name of art and passion, of course. "You can never be told when you're young" he muses. "It's the old thing - it's a corny cliché, but if I knew then what I know now.......you know. We went right over the top.....anything for sensationalism. And it was before all the punk thing, so it wasn't acceptable. In fact it did us a lot of harm.".


According to Gary, he was living in a real "Breaking Glass" situation: "Everything we were told, we did. The only thing we actually contributed was to write songs. You don't know it's happening, that's the thing. In the end we ran out of ideas and wanted to call it a day but couldn't because of legal hassles. We did the big thing. They said I was a drug addict and that the band had thrown me out. I said I'd sacked the band, yet we were still in the studio working together."


Gary is not one to stick his head in the air and proclaim "Je ne regrette rien". "Nah" he answers with his best wide-boy grin. "I look back on it and it's a bit embarrasing really". One thing Gary's sure about is that this time round in his musical wanderings, HE'LL be the one in control. After his experience in Heavy Metal Kids, it's a case of once bitten, twice shy. "It wasn't as if I thought "WOARGH, I need a single now, it's just that there's a certain air of popularity going around about me at the moment and I suppose the moguls - the businessmen - thought "Good time to release a single boys". But I paid for it all......I don't take advances anymore".


With a second series of "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" to be recorded in March and "Pump Boys and Dinettes" still going strong, his future is more planned than ever before. But with most of his parts still stuck in the "Wayne" vein, isn't he afraid of limiting his options by limiting his options by always playing the same character? "People always think that, but let me tell you - being typecast is the best thing that can happen to you". Because you're never out of work, right? Gary grins winningly, "Right!"


Thanks to Eleanor Levy​

 

Dedicated to keeping Gary Holton's memory alive since 2003.