Roy Hudd OBE
So Roy, how long have you been driving?
There have however, been many instances in my career when a script has arrived and there’s been scenes where ‘Roy Hudd pulls up in his car’ or is required to be seen ‘driving along’. I’ve been towed along on a trolley behind a car and pretended to drive with the aid of back projection. I was in a scene with Albert Finney once where he was the passenger and I was meant to be driving. I looked across at Albert and said “what do I do?…..I can’t drive!” He replied, “Don’t worry Roy, just steer and I’ll work the controls!” So we did just that and it worked!” It was so easy, it was like driving a bumper car at the Fairground!
On Coronation Street I played an undertaker. In the scenes where I was meant to be driving the hearse, there’d always be several film crew behind me pushing the car into shot!
Debbie passed her test in her early twenties after being taught the basics by her father who was a lorry driver. Ever since we’ve been together, she has been constantly by my side as my personal chauffeur!
Have you ever attempted to learn to drive?
The one and only time I had a driving lesson was many, many years ago in Bournemouth. It was before I met Debbie and I was doing a summer season there. I drove off and after a few minutes the lady instructor turned to me and said “you know Roy, you can go a bit faster if you wish” I replied “Thank you, but this is quite fast enough for me!” After a few more miles, I wasn’t enjoying the experience one little bit and said “I have a much better idea, why don’t we take the car back to the office and I’ll take you to lunch!” That was the last time I ever sat behind the wheel of a car.
What was your first car together?
It was a blue Austin Allegro and the best thing about it was the heater!
What car do you currently own and why that particular model?
The Smart car is our attempt to be ecologically friendly. We live rurally and used to feel guilty turning up to the local shops in a big estate car. The Smart car is much more practical and perfect for shopping as parking is a doddle! However, it’s not comfortable on long journeys – in fact it’s a b****r!
Who keeps your cars clean?
We have a local man in the next village who comes to our house and cleans them both at the same time. He charges us £10 and he does a super job both inside and out!
What would be your dream car?
We’ve got the dream car in our Mercedes. The only improvement would be to possibly buy a newer one with more luxury twiddly bits. I remember when I first discovered heated seats. I must have accidentally knocked the switch when I first got in. After a few miles, I turned to Debbie and said “I don’t know what’s going on but the cheeks of my a**e are welding together!”
Do you have a personalised number plate?
I used to have HUDD 1 and I paid the princely sum of £25 for it. This was back in the days when I thought I was a ‘bit flash’. We were driving past Buckingham Palace one day and I spotted a car coming out of the palace gates with Hudd 2! We ended up following one another down the Mall. I stopped using it in the end because I felt it was too ostentatious.
What would we find in the glove box of your car?
When Debbie drives like she does sometimes……me!!
What do you like to listen to in the car?
Mostly Radio 4, especially ‘The Archers’. Music-wise, I like to listen to a little bit of jazz either Ella Fitzgerald or Louis Armstrong. Debbie prefers soundtracks from musicals. She’s also a fan of Meatloaf whom I can’t stand. Most of the music I like is still on 78’s, but they don’t fit in the CD player!
Who would you most like to have as a passenger on a long journey?
We both enjoy each others company when driving, so I can’t think of anyone better than Debbie!
Who would you least like to have as a passenger?
Stephen Fry – because he’s so clever and such a bloody know-all!
Would you describe yourself as a good passenger?
When we first started going out together I used to sit in the passenger seat on my hands. One day Debbie turned to me and asked me why I did this and I replied that I didn’t want to embarrass her by driving along with them over my eyes!
Although I admit to not being a great passenger, I’m very good at map-reading. We travel all over the country visiting different theatres and there have been many occasions when we’ve got stuck in traffic jams. I’ve saved us both hours by navigating our way through side streets and housing estates. We don’t use a Sat Nav because my way is more fun and most importantly, I’d be redundant!
What things annoy you about other drivers?
People who fail to indicate or throw rubbish out of the window.
Do you think there is sufficient enforcement of the rules of the road?
I think it’s about right although sometimes there are roads that we drive along and feel the limit is too slow especially when there are no obvious reasons such as schools or houses.
If you were Roads Minister for a day what would you change?
I’d ban multiple mini-roundabouts, they can be very confusing!
Could you manage your life without a car?
Living in a rural environment it would be impossible to survive without a car. Touring the country constantly with my one-man show, I could take a train, but we’d still have to hire a van to transport all the props.
I know you’re not a driver, but do you enjoy motoring and being a passenger?
One aspect I most enjoy about not driving and being a passenger is that I can appreciate the scenery which I would miss out on if I was driving.
What is your top driving tip?
Don’t drive with me as I sometimes turn into Victor Meldrew!