Larry Lamb takes Saga Magazine's Grown-up Test

Paula Kerr / 17 April 2014

The actor and LBC radio host Lawrence ‘Larry’ Lamb, born October 1947, is a familiar face from both the stage and TV - especially Triangle, EastEnders, and now New Tricks. He has been married three times, has two sons and three daughters, and lives with partner Clare Burt in north London.

Twitter. Yes, no, or what?

Oh yes! I use it to tell people what I’m doing and it’s a way for people to make contact with me. I’ve had a few old friends get in touch, which is lovely.  I’ve got around 133,000 followers.

Any tricky moments shooting the Saga ad?

We had some fun with a seagull. I’ve never worked with one before. It was supposed to land on my shoulder. It was a little bit bemused by all the people on the set and the lights but we made it work beautifully in the end.

You’re a classy dresser. What are your favourite labels?

I like Massimo Dutti and Richard James. I also wear A. Sauvage, which is my son George’s label.  If it was down to me, there would be lots of wardrobe errors. George, however, is a bit of a style guru and he drags me round the shops like a kid, puts outfits together for me, tells me to try them on and then I pay for them.  

What’s the oldest item in your wardrobe?

It’s a waterproof, weatherproof, warm overcoat that I bought 19 years ago and I wear it every winter.

Does your son George borrow your clothes?

It’s the other way around. I sometimes borrow his clothes.  

You’re in great shape.  Diet, exercise or both?

I walk every day and do a couple of long walks each week. I also do some core muscle exercises, to keep my belly in check.  I eat a sensible diet.  I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t smoke.

When did you last stand naked in front of someone?

I can’t remember doing that for quite some time.

What’s your idea of a great night out?

I prefer a great night in. I can’t be doing with late nights out now. I prefer to sit around with a few friends, eating, nattering and laughing.  I don’t drink any more, I’ve given all that up.

Do you prefer playing a lover or a villain?

It’s more of a challenge for me to play a villain because I’m not a horrible bloke. I used to be pretty horrible when I was younger but I’m not now.

What do you do to conceal your age?

Nothing. I’m not worried about it. I don’t give a monkey’s, frankly. I’m ageing and I’m enjoying it. All this stuff about trying to look younger is raving bonkers. Why do people spend fortunes trying to fight nature? What are those people trying to prove?   I just don’t get it.  Eat sensibly, exercise and go with the flow.    

If your 16-year-old self could see you now, what would he say?

He’d say that he was quite satisfied with the way his life turned out.

What’s your favourite song in the charts at the moment?

I have absolutely no idea whatsoever about what’s in the charts. Although my youngest daughter, Eva-Mathilde, is ten and into Jason Mraz and I like his stuff. She likes a bit of One Direction, too.  There’s music in our house all the time.

What piece of music gets you on a dance floor?

I love all kinds of music but any old soul classics, by Otis Redding or the Four Tops, will always get me up dancing.  

Holidays - beach, cruising, explorer or action man?  

Other than family holidays to our place in Normandy, I like to travel on my own. I’m a loner. You won’t get me anywhere near a beach when the sun’s shining, either. I like a beach to myself, so I’ll go in the winter, when it’s cold and windy and love it. I’m not an action man but I’m definitely an explorer. I’ve been going to France for 30 years and feel very comfortable there but there are parts of the country I’d still like to see. I’ve worked in Nepal and I’d love to go back there. I speak Spanish and would love to explore more of Spain, too.

What's the daftest thing you did recently?  

I danced around the living room when my youngest daughter had her friends round at our house. I did it to wind her up and it wasn’t the first time. It really gets her going and she groans!

What’s the most important lesson your parents taught you?

The lesson I learned from my parents and gradually put into operation in my own life, was not to bring up children the way they did.They weren’t great parents and I was raised mostly by my paternal grandmother, Maude.

What's the last good deed you did for the planet?

I took some plastic out of the dustbin and put it in the recycling bin instead.

What are the two main lessons life has taught you?

I’ve learned to value other people, particularly those close to me and to not be greedy.

Biggest missed opportunity?

I expect there have been dozens.  Life as an actor is strewn with missed opportunities.  There were meetings I didn’t go to that might have led to interesting work but I only made those decisions because I had other work at the time.

Town or country?

I live in north London and I like the country but if I’m there too long, I miss the buzz of being in a busy town.  Yet when life gets too busy, I yearn for the countryside.

If you could unsay one remark in your life, which would it be?

“Will you marry me?” I said that three times and bailed out each time.

When and where were you happiest?

Now. I’m happier and more settled than I’ve ever been in my life.

...and what makes you grumpy?

Rude, aggressive and unreasonable people make me grumpy.

What was your childhood nickname and who still uses it?

I was born Lawrence but I’ve always been called Larry.

What item have you kept from childhood?

I haven’t kept anything from my childhood. There was nothing to keep. I have no connection to the beginning of my life in terms of material items. I have siblings and I see my mum occasionally.  That’s about it.  

What would you prefer: your youth back or what you have now?

If I had my youth back, I might do a few things differently. I would definitely have worked a lot harder at school and I try to encourage my own kids to do the same and I do everything I can to help them.

The moment you felt you were finally adult?

That didn’t happen until my 65th birthday. That’s when I felt grown-up. Turning 65 and collecting a pension felt significant.  

What is your most prized possession?

There’s no one physical thing but I prize my relationship with my kids above everything else.  I see George as often as I can and cherish the time I spend with my girls, who live with me.   

Bad habit you can’t break?

As my father used to say, “You can put your arm round a nun’s waist but you mustn’t get into the habit!”  I used to drink alcohol but broke that habit several years ago and feel healthier because of it.  I don’t have any other terrible habits.  I might have the occasional binge on chocolate but I won’t go near it again for a month.

Your greatest regret?

There are too many to let any one of them come to the fore so I don’t look back and dwell on regrets. I live for today.

Name two people from the past you'd like to sit next to at dinner

I’d love to sit next to my grandmother, Maude. She was a very special, loving and capable woman. She looked after me when my parents couldn’t.  I’d also like to sit next to a dear friend of mine, the late theatre director Steven Pimlott. He was the first person to have faith in me as an actor and encourage me. He hired me to play King Claudius, in Hamlet, at the RSC.  If it hadn’t been for him, I would never have seen that through.  I’d like to thank him.

Cup half full or half empty?

It was always half empty but now it’s always half full. It all changed when I turned 65. I realised just how fortunate I’d been and that there is still more joy to come.

What’s the one thing you can’t throw away?

There are very few things I can throw away. I’m a terrible hoarder. I’ve got boxes of letters and holiday souvenirs in the attic. I hang onto bits of wood in case they come in useful.  If I see a pallet in a skip, I’ll tie it to my roof rack, take it home and chop it up for firewood.

Last time you laughed till you cried?

That happened quite recently. I was having dinner with my girls, their mum, George and his mum. We were all together and someone made a wisecrack and someone else added to it and there we were, all laughing together, until I had tears running down my cheeks. It was a lovely feeling.

Read Larry Lamb's Wikipedia here 

This article was published in the May 2014 issue of Saga Magazine. 

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