Henry Pettigrew on Quiz and Dramatising UK Television Industry

Currently starring as Adrian Pollock (and others) in Quiz at the Noël Coward Theatre, Henry Pettigrew recently answered some quick-fire questions on his role and what he enjoys most about the show. 


AWC: How did you first hear about the show and what were your immediate thoughts on the topic?
HP: The director, Daniel Evans, told me about it. I wasn’t that aware of the case but the play seemed a very fun and interesting project to be part of.

Though set on events between 2001 and 2003, Quiz feels incredibly relevant and prescient. Why might that be?
As well as the play being entertaining it also raises questions about our trust in the media, the justice system and our government, which are all eternally relevant.

What are the benefits as an actor of performing in new material?
It’s brilliant getting to work closely with the writer and director and very satisfying knowing you’ll be the first person to put your stamp on the part. Also, you get to see your name printed in the published play text.

Were you part of the Chichester run and, if so, what changes has the show undergone so that it now fits in the Noël Coward theatre?
Yes, I was. Some characters have been lost. I’ve gained a new character – Mark Burnett. There are more TV screens and more technology is involved.

What is your favourite part about the production?
I love the section called ‘Showtime’ where Keir Charles impersonates Des O’Connor, Jim Bowen and Leslie Crowther.

Which of Keir Charles’s impressions is your favourite?
I really love his Des O’Connor

The audience interaction is a really interesting aspect to the show – has there been any surprising results from the final scene?
Although the results are different for every performance, they do follow a trend. Matinee audiences tend to find them guilty.

Your main character, Adrian Pollock, is obsessed with game shows – why do you think they are such a big part of British television culture and why do they mean so much to him?
To quote the play, ‘The pub quiz is a uniquely British invention, combining our two great loves – drinking and being right.’ They are also particularly important to Adrian because it was a family tradition: his father was a contestant on 15:1

How has this role compared to your previous ones?
I’ve never played a person who actually exists in real life.

Are you a fan of any particular game show on television currently?

Is there one character from the show in particular you think we are meant to feel emotionally for?
Major Charles Ingram.

If you had to describe the tone of Quiz with one word, which would it be?
Emotainment – Emotional Entertainment.

Would you encourage audiences to do any research into the “coughing major” before they arrive or should they come knowing little of the historical events?
I think it does help to know a little of the story but the play does stand up in its own right.

If you could play any other character in the show, which would it be?
Denise Body because she has the best costume. Best laugh and best body.

What was the best thing you saw in the past year on the stage?
Angels in America at the National Theatre.

Is there anything you wish you had seen?
I really wanted to see ‘The Inheritance’ at the Young Vic.


Our thanks to Henry for taking the time to answer our questions – you can see him in Quiz until the 16th June, 2018.


Feature Image Photograph Credit: Johan Persson.

Anthony Walker-Cook is a PhD candidate at UCL and is the Theatre editor for London Student. His interests include theatre adaptation, early modern drama, classical myths made modern and all things eighteenth century. For more information please contact: anthony.walker-cook.17@ucl.ac.uk @AntWalker_Cook

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