Rupert appeared as the defendant, James Byron, in this first episode (shown in two parts) of Judge Rinder’s Crown Court. This is the ‘pilot’ for a return of the long-running drama Crown Court, which aired on ITV from 1972 to 1984. The idea is that a ‘real life’ court case is explored through the show, and we can then form our own opinions on the guilt or innocence of the accused, and on whether the verdict and sentence were appropriate.
In this case, James Byron was accused of murdering his wife, Anna Byron, with poison. More than that, I will not say! And I haven’t looked up the original case. I’m just enjoying the sheer drama of it all at the moment.
There are a number of ‘flashback’ scenes in the first episode, which are lovely, of course – though I always find them a bit problematic. Are we meant to take them as the truth, or are they dramatised versions of the current testimony?
Anyway, Rupert does a lovely job, and also looks superbly handsome in the court room. But, you know, this impression may well change once we learn more in the second part of the ep!
I’ve taken the liberty of capturing some screenshots below (with great respect, but without permission). The episode is available to play on the ITV Hub for the next thirty days.
I went along, and it was a fantastic evening, with much lovely singing from a variety of acts, as well as the readings. Not to mention minced pies and mulled wine! And there was the delightful church itself, too – St Paul’s in Knightsbridge.
The people in the banner photo contributed the readings. From left to right, they are Robert Portal, Jason Flemyng, Mary Nightingale, Maureen Lipman, Rory McConnachie, Rupert, and Annabel Croft.
Rupert read the poem A Visit from St Nicholas (commonly known as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas), by Clement Moore. He did a terrific job, of course, and put plenty of oomph into it.
I snuck a couple of photos, which aren’t very sharp, but hopefully the Rainbow Trust will share some of the official ones – of which there were plenty taken!
There has been a listing on IMDB for quite some while, indicating that Rupert would appear in a film called The Tutor, with a 2017 release date.
It sounds like a rather nice story, so I was disappointed to find out that it probably won’t happen now. Rupert explained that The Tutor was a project originating via his former agent, and he suspects that the connection was lost following the switch to his current agency.
I had the honour of interviewing Rupert on the Sunday afternoon at MCM Comic Con in London. He was just as obliging and delightful about it as you would imagine. One of the reasons I like him so much is that, whether it’s on panels or individually, he really does try to give honest and meaningful answers to whatever he is asked.
So, let’s get into it! I started off with a couple of easy ones…
What has been your favourite role, and why?
I’ll say Sir Leon [Merlin], because it’s opened up lots of doors, and I got to spend time with people, get close to people, film with amazing people, and film in amazing locations.
What was your favourite location?
Everyone says that!
Yeah, but it was amazing. It really was.
What do you look for in a director?
One that wants to hire me! Someone who has done their work, and is very passionate about the project they’re doing – and who I trust and can get the best out of me.
I think he’s just kind, and very good and very gentle, and not too much ego. He wants the best out of actors, he really cares about performance. So, that’s why I love him.
What did you do in the few years between leaving school and studying with LAMDA?
I did lots of things. I taught in a school, I worked in the City, I worked in The GAP, I directed plays for children, taught drama – quite a lot of things.
Actually, when I first left school, I got accepted into musical theatre at drama school, but I couldn’t get the funding together. Which, in hindsight – I think when you’ve first left school, you’re desperate to start your life – and then you go, actually, it’s quite good to not do that. But obviously I wanted to be able to do musicals. I waited, and started doing a couple of plays before drama school – but it was very hard, and I knew I had to train. I applied for LAMDA, and that was it. Because by then I knew I didn’t want to just study musicals. I liked them, but I knew that I wanted to do other things.
Do you think it’s useful, though, to live a ‘real’ life for a while, work in ‘real’ jobs?
Yes, I think so. It’s weird because when you first do acting at school, it’s an extracurricular thing, which is amazing and really fun. However, when you go into it as a job, sometimes it’s so… it takes over your whole life, and sometimes you need to have other passions to keep you sane – and in acting you need to learn a lot of different things, different skills – that’s one of the reasons I love it.
I think it’s good to take time, but some people’s careers happen when they’re very young, and others’ careers are – I like to think I was going to be a ‘leading man’ as opposed to a ‘leading boy’. [laughs] Well, maybe not ‘leading’, but ‘man’.
I have had the most awesome Ruperlicious day today! Rupert attended MCM Comic Con in London, along with Merlin castmate Alex Vlahos, on the Saturday and Sunday. They seemed to be having a fun time of it, and the fans certainly were, too.
I started off my Sunday with an autograph from Rupert. He was kind enough, as usual, to ask me what was happening with me, so I told him my big news – which is retiring from the day job, and being able to write full time. He was appropriately congratulatory in response!
It’s been far too long (for us fans, anyway!) since we saw him last in Wrexham, but he seems to have enjoyed taking some time out.
He seemed pretty impressed by my Sir Leon t-shirt, which is a Red Scharlach special, and he quizzed me about it at length. So (later in the day) I asked if we could take a ‘reaction shot’ for Red…
After my Rupert autograph, I went to seek one from Warwick Davis. He’s such a great guy with us fans, has the most gorgeous smile, and he’s just been in everything that’s anything – including Merlin, of course!
I had to ask them for a Merlin photo, as there weren’t any on display – but a very nice one was duly forthcoming, and I asked him to sign it with ‘Courage, Strength and Magic’. He is such a sweetheart. ♥
Tom Hopper (Sir Percival) was feeling as sentimental as the rest of us on this, the ninth anniversary of the first episode of Merlin being screened on 20 September 2008.
He posted the above photo on Instagram and waxed lyrical about the “instant brotherhood” formed between Arthur and the knights. Rupert is mentioned as giving Tom “tips on how to drink coffee and chat” – very civilised, is our Sir Rupert! And of course that’s him in Sir Leon’s casual gear in the centre of the photo at Arthur’s right hand.
Tom goes on to say to the Merlin fans, “I can’t thank you enough for the love.”
Rupert was one of the celebrities participating in this cricket match supporting Runs4Funds, the Northamptonshire County Cricket Club official Players’ Charity. The day was hosted at the Althorp estate. Marvellous stuff!
Alas and alack, I couldn’t attend – but my ‘twin’ Jenny did, and kindly provided the photographic evidence to prove it!
The whimsically talented artist RedScharlach has now included Sir Leon among her lovely Merlin crew. All the related goodies can be found on RedBubble.
Follow the link, and you’ll see the greeting card option. Scroll down, click Available Products if it’s not already selected, and you’ll see all the goodies available featuring Sir Leon.
t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies in a range of styles and colours
cases for iPhone, iPad and Samsung Galaxy
cushion covers and acrylic blocks
mugs and travel mugs
tote bags and drawstring bags
greeting cards, postcards and stickers
spiral notebooks and hardcover journals
The sticker doesn’t appear on the page linked above, but you can find it here.
It’s worth noting that Sir Leon is also included in the Team Merlin group, along with darling Gaius and the other regular characters. And what serendipity that Sir Leon (on his own) is featured against a purple background – my favourite colour! … My credit card just took a right hammering!