CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Cotswold Character: Simon Pegg

PUBLISHED: 07:33 18 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:11 20 February 2013

Simon Pegg’s Nerd Do Well, a small boy’s journey to becoming a big kid, is published in hardback by Century, priced £18.99.

Simon Pegg’s Nerd Do Well, a small boy’s journey to becoming a big kid, is published in hardback by Century, priced £18.99.

Actor and comedian Simon Pegg is best known for starring in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Mission: Impossible and the 2009 version of Star Trek. So film fans will be delighted to know he's just published his memoirs, Nerd Do Well

Actor and comedian Simon Pegg is best known for starring in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Mission: Impossible and the 2009 version of Star Trek. So film fans will be delighted to know hes just published his memoirs, Nerd Do Well, full of stories aboutGloucester. Katie Jarvis takes a look, and manages a quick chat with this busy Hollywood star.



Now be honest. When do Hollywood stars ever mention Gloucester? Have you heard Nicholas Cage discussing the swimming pool at Gloucester Leisure Centre? Or Julia Roberts chatting about a drama group at Quedgeley. Well, all thats about to change, thanks to Simon Peggs autobiography Nerd Do Well.



Born and brought up in Brockworth, where he attended primary school and the local comp, this Hollywood stars memoirs are packed with references to the Cotswolds least romantic corners.



He talks about falling flat on his face with his first self-penned comedy sketch literally, that is. On the day he was due to perform it aged eight at Castle Hill Primary School in Brockworth fellow pupil and school vamp Denise Miller threatened to kiss him on the lips if she caught him. Not unnaturally, he took off at speed, collided with a group of young footballers, and hit a low wall, face first, with maximum velocity.



But not even a half-closed right eye and a gory cheek could stop this born performer.


Its clear he inherited his penchant for the stage from both sides of the family. His mum, Gill, is a talented amateur dramatics performer, who introduced her young son to Gloucester Operatic and Dramatic Society shows. His first major role was as Francis of Assisi in the Lady Chapel at Gloucester Cathedral; and by the age of seven, he was performing alongside his mum in musicals such as Carousel and The Music Man.



His dad, John Beckingham, is equally at home in front of an audience. A former head chorister at Gloucester Cathedral, hes well known as the leader of JB Jazz & Blues Band, who often play at the Daffodil restaurant in Cheltenham. While Simon says of his mum, Had she been afforded the same opportunities, encouragement and dumb luck as me, she might have found herself working as a professional actress, his dad had his 15 minutes of fame back in the 1970s. He and his then-band won the studio vote on Hughie Greens Opportunity Knocks, only to lose in the postal vote to a another well-loved Cotswold celebrity: the poet Pam Ayres.



After failing the eleven-plus (When I finished I had the sick feeling that I would not be receiving the racing bike I had been promised if I made it into Tommy Richs, and that inclination was one of the only things I got correct that day), Simon went to Brockworth Comprehensive. He may have been minus a bike, but it turned out to be a reasonable punt on the part of Fate. I can pinpoint specific moments that contributed to my becoming a professional actor and comedy writer, which perhaps would not have occurred on the more staid, all-male environment of Tommy Richs, he muses.



At 16, the aspiring actor went to the South Warwickshire College of Education in Stratford for two years (as did Ben Elton, as it happens), before studying drama at Bristol University.



Oh, and of course, there are lots of bits about Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, etc, that dont take place in Gloucester. Its a great fun read, with a few serious bits thrown in. In the end, this memoir has turned out to be far more personal than I ever intended, admits the man who would rather talk about his dog than his family (purely to protect his private life):



Journalist: So, you recently had a baby. Whats it like being a father?


Me: My dog likes eating socks!



Bearing that in mind, Cotswold Life posed Simon a quick set of questions, which elicited no canine-based answers. Surely a sign of success



Tell us what we already know, Simon: Hollywood is just like Gloucester, but with slightly taller buildings yes?



The only tall buildings in Hollywood are the hotels and theyre nothing compared


to New York. Youre talking about a community of predominantly insecure arty types facing the very real possibility of being shaken into the Pacific Ocean. You have to go to downtown LA for tall buildings. They dont worry about that stuff.



Nerd Do Well, your book of memoirs, has just been published. As the title implies, by no means all movie stars grew up in Gloucester and attended Brockworth Comp. What are the downsides of your down-to-earth childhood? And are there upsides, too?



The vast majority of actors have down-to-earth upbringings. Their status is conferred on them by people who view the industry from outside and believe their own speculations and assumptions about celebrity. Also by actors who start to believe it too. Fame doesnt turn you into an arse, it just brings out the arse you always were.



You mention in your book teachers who well, lets just say they were memorable (NB story involving the collapsing desk). Were there characters in your childhood who particularly inspired you?



My English teachers Margaret Taylor and Gareth Calway who taught me at Brockworth Comprehensive. Both were encouraging and supportive of my creative impulses. Good teachers are invaluable.



There must be a tendency for a comedian to make light of everything but there must equally have been times when writing your memoirs was difficult, not to say thought-provoking?



Yes, you dont realise how much you remember until you start poking around inside your own head. There were far more good memories than bad ones though.



After studying drama at Bristol, you very successfully took to the stand-up comedy circuit: a baptism by fire. How was it and where did you get your material from?


Stand up is the best job in the world. People always say oh that must be terrifying but its only scary if youre no good. If youre funny and have confidence in your material, its great fun. Its a very enjoyable thing to make people laugh. My material just materialised, I never went looking for it.



Which have been your favourite projects to date? And who have you most enjoyed working with?



I generally enjoy everything I do. I cant recall a job I didnt get something out of. I dont really have favourites in terms of actors. Its amazing to work with legendary actors like Jeff Bridges, Sigourney Weaver and directors like Spielberg and Landis but its also fantastic to work with relatively new talents like the Enterprise crew or cool comic talents like Jason Bateman, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. Im lucky to have worked with all of them.



Any behind-the-scenes anecdotes you can share with us?



Too many to recall.



Tell us about your latest film, the black comedy Burke and Hare



Its the story of two Irish immigrants who came to Edinburgh in the 1820s and fell into the murderous racket of supplying medical science with fresh corpses for dissection. Its based on real events that were less than comic but by turning it into something lighthearted it provokes some serious thoughts on morality, the conclusion of which should be there is absolutely no excuse for murder.



So whats next?



The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawntreader (in which Simon provides the voice of Reepicheep, a talking mouse) comes out in December; then Paul (a sci-fi comedy film written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) hits theatres in February 11. Im currently shooting M:I:4 (the next instalment in the Mission: Impossible series).



Back to the Cotswolds Do you return to the area very much? And, if so, where do you head for?



I dont get home as much as Id like. When I came back for the Cheltenham Lit festival, I realized I had not been to Gloucester for almost two years. When I do get back, I am content to lay on my mums sofa and watch TV.



And, finally, what would the teenage Simon Pegg from Brockworth Comp make of it all?



He would be a lot less cool about it than I am. Things are so much more surprising when they come unheralded. I have worked hard to achieve the things I have achieved. I feel like Ive earned it. A young me would probably think ooh you jammy bugger!



Simon Peggs Nerd Do Well, a small boys journey to becoming a big kid, is published in hardback by Century, priced 18.99.

0 comments

More from People

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Harnessing the power of social media, charity awards and dreaming up new projects - it’s all in a day’s work for Gloucestershire children’s charity Pied Piper and its corporate supporters

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Cotswolds’ very own Prince of Wales turns 70 this month, so we looked back on some of the highlights of his life and career, and wondered what birthday pressies we would buy for the man who has the world at his feet

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

When landowners are looking to sell their land, and want a transparent journey that delivers them best value, Rosconn Strategic Land is here to take them through the process.

Read more

Radio DJ Paul Gambaccini has secured a payout from prosecutors over unfounded allegations of historical sex offences. The presenter, 69, was arrested in 2013 over a claim he sexually assaulted two teenage boys in the early 1980s. Mr Gambaccini always denied the claims, calling the case “completely fictitious”. He spent a year on bail before the case was dropped. Two years later he gave this interview to Katie Jarvis

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Barn Theatre’s artistic director, Iwan Lewis, talks to Candia McKormack about a rather special project aimed at bringing the Cotswold community together in commemoration of the Great War’s fallen

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The environmental charity set up to protect Stroud’s industrial heritage now enhances the lives of its own volunteers. Katie Jarvis meets chief executive Clare Mahdiyone to hear about her Cotswold Life

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Alex Caccia was in two minds about setting up Animal Dynamics as a limited company, but a shark attack warning changed all of that. Tanya Gledhill meets a man on a mission to change propulsion, one animal at a time

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

He quit his job with a few thousand pounds in savings and an empty garage. In less than a year, Nick Grey’s technology company Gtech was flying. Tanya Gledhill meets him

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

How does it feel to interview Sir Michael Parkinson, the nation’s best-ever interviewer? Katie Jarvis takes a very deep breath – and finds out

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

When Charles Martell became the latest High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, he started discovering things about the county he never knew – not to mention things about himself, too. Katie Jarvis spoke to him about saw pits, walnuts, peaceable towns and pink-headed ducks

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A cast-iron work ethic drove Marcus Gomery from a car wash kid to Managing Director of one of Gloucestershire’s leading financial planning companies. Tanya Gledhill meets him

Read more
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Katie Jarvis talks Marmite sandwiches and poison dart frogs - but definitely no cider - with Reggie Heyworth, who runs the Cotswold Wildlife Park

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Exceptional design and incredible vision are the hallmarks of coombes:everitt architects. John Everitt tells Tanya Gledhill how the practice is building on its success

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search