Doctor Who Magazine no 177 (September 1991)
"Make do with sipping vodka through a straw," the hardship eh? I like the interviewers last comment too.
And in case of cobwebs a interview taken from 'The Sofia Echo' 28/8/2009
'I know the face but...'
A group of "suits" occupy London’s Lancaster House for a European ambassadors’ conference. It’s one of those intense meetings where delegates sit, nominally entranced, but surreptitiously scratching their navels as their colleagues deliver scripted speeches.
The Bulgarian president is sitting next to his country’s ambassador to the UK. They share a few words, uttered in a hoarse monotonous whisper, their eyes staring blankly into the distance.
"Cut!" shouts director Dimitar Mitovski. This time he looks pleased, having extracted just the right look of glazed distraction required. Eventually, the other "suits" remove their ties and the other actors, mostly extras, are pleased to decamp outside, not, in reality, to a London street but rather to the square around Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, home to the National Gallery for Foreign Art.
Mission London, an English-language comedy shooting in Sofia this summer, tells the story of the chaos surrounding the new Bulgarian ambassador’s arrival in London. It’s based on a novel of the same name, published in 2001 by Alek Popov, relating his experiences as cultural attache in the UK.
Orlin Goranov, a 1980s pop star (one of his big hits was called "Svetat e za dvama" - The World Is For Two) plays the part of the Bulgarian president, while Ana Papadopulu is the main female lead.
Bulgarian actor Julian Vergov plays the Bulgarian ambassador. A mainstay of the Bulgarian National Theatre, Vergov has also appeared in several action movies, including the recent Val Kilmer project Fake Identity and SS Doomtrooper with the ubiquitous British villain in Sofia, Ben Cross.
Sofia has become a favourite venue for filmmakers thanks to low costs. Other recent movies filmed here - all Nu Boyana productions - include The Code with Morgan Freeman, the Black Dahlia with Scarlett Johansson and several Dolph Lundgren action vehicles.
The loneliness of the long-distance actor
One British actor in particular, David Collings, a veteran of hundreds of TV and theatrical roles, is full of praise for Mission London’s director and script.
Sitting outside the gallery, bedecked in a dark suit for his role as "parliamentary wheeler-dealer" Sir Dean Carver, Collings cuts an imposing figure with his quintessentially English aquiline profile. I wonder if David bases his performance on a real-like figure, an amalgam of Jeffrey Archer and Peter Mandelson perhaps? "No", he says with a laugh, "I prefer coming to a character fresh without preconceptions. I work from the inside out."
Collings has been one of the more prolific faces on British television over the last 40 years - particularly in sci-fi series such as Dr Who and Sapphire and Steel - even though his name may not be instantly familiar. David, who lives in London’s Putney, bemoans the increasing lurch into reality TV and the demise of single plays and serials. In any case, he’s always favoured theatre. Recently, he appeared in a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel with opera star Lesley Garrett.
This is not David’s first trip to Bulgaria. "I was here in the late 1980s, if only by accident. I was doing a world tour with the British National Theatre and we were trying to land at Bucharest, but it was too foggy and so we were diverted to Sofia. Back then I remember thinking Sofia was a very rough city," he says.
It was Collings’ penultimate day on the set of Mission London. Although he’s been here for several weeks, 12-hour days mean he’s had little opportunity to travel. All his spare time, he tells me, has been spent learning the part of Duncan in Macbeth - or should that be "the Scottish play" - given the supposed jinx surrounding it? Thankfully, David is not in the least superstitious. That’s just as well as he’s about to embark on a world tour of the play about the murderous Scottish king.
The actor is a veteran of the Bard, having played many roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company, recently in Troilus and Cressida, Cymbeline and King John. Despite his success, David is largely self-taught. He did not go to drama school - neither did he ever harbour any secret ambitions to become a professional actor. Instead he was poached from an amateur dramatics company. He won a big part in a BBC production of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment in the early 1960s. "It’s all been downhill from there," jokes David.
But whatever role chance played in his decisions, it’s certainly caught on. Both his children - twins - are now professional actors despite his warnings of a precarious livelihood.
And then David, who turns 70 next year, shuffles off to learn some more lines before his next trip abroad. I suspect that for David, a real jobbing actor in the best sense of the word, a four-letter word is likely to lure him away for some years to come.
The film is on IMDB but not in DC's CV on there!