Casualty Actor Charles Venn who plays Jacob Masters talks to Alt A Review about being part of the Strictly Come Dancing show on BBC1. The British actor is known for TV roles which include: as Ray Dixon in EastEnders, Jacob Masters in Casualty, Curtis Alexander in Sky One’s Dream Team and Tremaine Gidigbi in Footballers’ Wives to mention a few. His film credits include, the horror film sequel Return to House on Haunted Hill as Warren, a role in ‘Wrong Turn: Left for Dead’ as Walter and a role in Bourne Ultimatum, as Agent Hammond, and The Dark Knight, as bodyguards of one of the film’s main villains, Gambol. He can also be seen in the music video “Twisted” by Fredi Kruga.
Alt A Review (AAR): When did you know that you will be taking part in Strictly?
Venn: It was confirmed early June, that was it the deal was done but I had to remain quiet, I could not say anything to about August and then it was revealed on GMTV and that was it and two months and a bit down the line I am here, talking to you.
AAR: So, is strictly something you always wanted to do?
Venn: You know what, no not necessarily, I am a man who has rhythm and physicality, but yeah I did not think ballroom dancing was something I would be a dab hand at, but people have said to me Chucky (stage name) you would be really good on Strictly, and I am like “ah nah that is not for me man! But then lo and behold when it came it just kinda made sense. I am happy, glad, really, happy to be doing this show.
AAR: That kind of leads me to the next question, do you not see yourself as a natural dancer?
Venn: You know what I have always believed that it was in me to move but it is one thing to dance very confidently or competently in a night club. You know what I mean? You have Dutch courage and yeah, you can do some steps and moves that you can not necessarily explain, it just happens. I am sure, you do some steps and it is the way music takes you, and you do steps you have never done before, and you are in a euphoric state of mind but that is it! I have always been that way I am very intuitive, but now to have somebody go through the process where you are being told step by step, and how to do that move and when to do that move or where you move your leg or where you move your arm or this is the basic step, that is a completely different kettle of fish. That is where I thought, oh would I be able to do this, you know would I struggle with that? But thankfully I have taken to it well, but it is still very hard, and it takes a couple of days for me to get into the groove of each new dance routine.
AAR: What is the most gruelling part of your schedule and are you filming Casualty at the same time?
Venn: I am still filming Casualty at the same time but fortunately they have been amazing and they have given me some time off to just focus on dancing which I am really really thankful for but the most difficult part at present is as I mentioned mapping out the dance routines and when I say mapping out it is about finding your way from beginning to end, all the little intricacies, all those little movements, choreography, leg-orgraphy, all the ographies (laughs) how to move your leg, when to smile, posture, there is all those things you have to juggle with each dance. So, the first couple days are always my challenging days but then you are reminded that your brain works like a computer and it does download the information and it might take a while to process but you find every day you do get better and better.
AAR: Does being an actor help when learning the routines?
Venn: Being an actor helps in terms of retention and balance, it is one thing to retain the steps and that is the issue I am having if it was a memory test I can open my mind and work it out, like you can do the steps, that goes there, turn here etc. I can work through that it would be like having a video in my my head, yes I know them, but it is putting it all together in succession and that is where it gets tricky.
AAR: Talking of acting let’s talk about Casualty, you play Jacob Masters what do you like about his character?
Venn: The one thing I do truly like about the character is he dances to the beat of his own drum, he is not a follower, he is a leader. When he came first into the show he came in with such charm and confidence and was very left field. His intentions were always honourable and always good. But it was the method in which he approached those intentions. And as a result, he was seen as a defiant rebellious person within the hospital, and that was what appealed to his love interest Connie Beauchamp (Amanda Mealing). There was something mysterious about Jacob, he is a confident Alpha male, caring and sensitive but also at the same time a no-nonsense character. It is often the case when you have individuals like that you know that there is a past, there is something that has led them to become the man he became, do you understand? And I really wanted to delve into that as an actor, very early on in the show Jacob’s past was very hidden and he did nothing to reveal anything about his past. But eventually it has started to unfold and over the seasons that he has been there you begin to know more and more about it. So much so to the point now that Jacob’s mother has been introduced into the show and we learn she is a manic schizophrenic. So, we begin to see the traumatic past he had as a child and the mental abuse he suffered because of his mum’s schizophrenic episodes. You see what I mean, there is so much depth to this character, there is so much to his story and that is why I love playing Jacob Masters.
AAR: I remember you as far back as Dream Team on Sky One, so you have been working in the industry for a fair bit, let’s talk diversity, do you think is a better industry for black actors then when you started out?
Venn: Yes, it has improved, it has improved, yes they are more roles, they are more opportunities for actors of colour, but I would be a liar to say that it is equal. For the foreseeable future it is a work in progress, but it is getting there. I cannot tell you the stats, I can’t do that, but I can say we are seeing change.
AAR: Have you ever considered leaving the UK for Hollywood?
Venn: I would not say that going to Hollywood means you must abandon the UK, I have carved out my career here and I have made my name over here over the last 20 years. I have had a nice long successful career and would not want to leave here permanently but yes I would do Hollywood.
AAR: So, we are now six weeks (when interviewed) into Strictly, can you see the Strictly trophy under your Christmas tree?
(Laughs) Well put it this way I plan on giving my 100% as I have been doing and I am going to do so in the future and if that one 100% is enough to take me to the Finals I would embrace it, get me that trophy. Can I be in the Finals absolutely, I would love to get into the finals, I did not come in to the show just to take part we come in the show to potentially win the competition but it is very hard, and nobody is taking anything for granted.
AAR: What has been your favourite week so far?
It has to be week five, the Couple’s Choice week and doing that seminal performance, that street dance. that would definitely be a page in my book. Shockingly I was saying to my friend yesterday life is like a bubble and that is one page I would dog ear as we did something that had not been done. We did something special. People would have questioned whether street dance would work in a show like Strictly Come Dancing, you know a ballroom show. So, to come into the show and deliver a performance that evoked so much emotion, amazing. But the first day, the first show also!
Strictly Update Week 8: On November 10 Lauren and Charles climbed the leaderboard, mixing up the competition. Dr Raj lost to a dance off with Charles. Charles Venn and dance partner Karen Clifton have a scored of 35 (8,9,9,9) which places them at number 3. So tune in for week 9 this Saturday 17th November on BBC1 at 6:45pm and vote for Charles #TeamCharlesVenn . Get more info on the show: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006m8dq
Main image Credit: BBC Photographer:Emilie Sandy Image Copyright: BBC Programme Maker: BBC