Kevin Whately - in conversation

December 8th, 2015 by Home Group client, Anna Matson in Features

Two men in smart suits look past the camera.

The latest instalment of Oxford-based crime drama, Lewis has recently been broadcast on ITV. Home Group client, Anna Matson chats to the man himself, actor Kevin Whately (above, right), about his early career, his love of theatre and why he’s a dedicated supporter of Alzheimer’s Society.

Anna: You started your career as an accountant. What was it like moving from accountancy to acting?
Kevin: My dream was always to become an actor but I was deflected by a career’s advisory person into accounting. I became a member of The People’s Theatre in Newcastle and people at the theatre knew about drama schools and helped me to apply.

Anna: You’re a supporter of Alzheimer’s Society. Why is the charity important to you?
Kevin: My mum had dementia and this is one of the main reasons that I support the charity. I was also in a TV play called ‘Dad’ which explored issues around abuse of the elderly. Jean Heywood played ‘mum’, who has Alzheimer’s, and members of the Alzheimer’s Society turned up in support of the show. I have been supporting them for over ten years now.

Anna: Did you read any Colin Dexter books before you started playing Lewis?
Kevin: I read the Inspector Morse story, ‘Last Bus to Woodstock’ first and I remember Lewis was about 60. I was around 34 at the time so I couldn’t understand why they wanted me to play him. But I met with them and they explained what they wanted to do with the character and how they wanted to make him a younger character. Since then I have read all of Colin’s books and recorded the audio versions so know them very well.

Anna: Do you prefer working in theatre or TV and why?
Kevin: I think most actors will tell you they prefer working in theatre because when you work in TV you don’t get any rehearsals. So you basically turn up and give a performance straight to the camera, which you hope is alright, but you are constantly making compromises and you know you can do it better. Whereas in theatre, you spend more time rehearsing and so you know that if you didn’t get it right on one night, you can do it again tomorrow night and make it better. In a theatre run, you generally feel that you can get the part to where you want it to be and you can aim for perfection. Also, with theatre, its lots of fun as you are working closely with a group of people for a long period of time and you become like a close family.

Anna: What are you most passionate about?
Kevin: At the moment I’m very passionate about young people being able to fulfil their potential. I think a lot of kids now, because of austerity, are having to grab any job that comes up and if they have a talent they often can’t afford to follow it through. For example, most drama schools are hugely expensive and based in London so you have to be able to afford living in London on top of paying the fees. Ideally I think all education should be free.

Anna: As a performer, what advice would you give to people who need to overcome shyness?
Kevin: Well, strangely enough, being a performer really does help to overcome shyness. You can play many different characters and this helps you gain confidence and makes you more relaxed speaking in front of people.

Anna: What’s the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Kevin: Giving up accountancy and changing my career was a big risk as I had almost completed my training. I gave up a potentially lucrative career in accounting to go to drama school.

What are your future acting plans?
Kevin: Having just completed the three new Lewis films, as well as a radio play, I am now looking forward to making more time for my family.

Anna: And finally, which famous person would you like to see play you and why?
Kevin: I can’t think of anyone! There are many people I admire but none that I can see that would want to play me! No one’s face is saggy enough! Tom Hardy is a great actor but he wouldn’t want to play me. Obviously, I’d want to play myself!


For further information about Alzheimer’s Society, visit