Meet Theo Barklem-Biggs, ‘Silk’ Actor

‘Silk’ continues on BBC One on Monday nights, so we caught up with actor Theo Barklem-Biggs to talk about his role in the show.

Tell me Theo, what was it about the script and the concept of Silk that appealed to you and caught your interest? 

Well firstly, I had never played a part in a suit; I’d always been in hoodies and stuff like that so it was great to do something different! That’s just on a personal level. Then of course, the script was really believable and I didn’t know a lot about the law world nor that there are actually a lot of parallels with the acting world. For example, the agents – the barristers have agents just like we do.

Yeah, that’s also mentioned in the episode with the footballers. The guy makes that comparison of barrister’s agents to football agents.

Yeah, he does! There is a comparison completely. And I didn’t know about the inside, the cogs that make it work, how the whole business ticks – like the corruption, the scandal, the mind games people play! I learnt a lot actually.

I was going to say, you must have learnt quite a bit about the law world. Has this given you any knowledge about our judicial system, or maybe even opinions in respect to that?

Yeah. It is complicated and I still don’t know enough to make a really informed opinion on it. It’s complex, and I believe the world isn’t black and white; it’s grey.

Well Jake is starting to change in season 3 – we can see his ambition shining through a little bit, are we going to be seeing more of that?

Yeah, he’s learning a lot more! I think Jake is naïve and he learns from his mistakes. He’s not dopey or a gormless character, he’s just learning. I may have been naïve at a time as well, and that’s maybe a similarity we share; not to be cynical but critical.

In the three seasons it hasn’t even been a whole year for the characters so Jake’s actually learning quiet quick! You do catch him doing silly things, but that’s how he’s learning. And now you have the representation of the new school, where Harriet has come in and shown that you can study a degree to be a law clerk, whilst before you’d learn from your mistakes; you’d be the coffee boy and you’d earn your way up. Now, Billy’s approaching death is making him think of things that are bigger than himself and Jake’s starting to grow up himself; he doesn’t want to be Billy’s lapdog anymore. Which kind of disrupts the dynamic because that’s what Billy wants and he’s not willing to take the risk on Jake. As much as he loves him, he’s not willing to take the risk on him. Jake is feeling a bit underappreciated and undervalued. He needs to step up. He’s fed up of making mistakes and he feels like he’s expected to make mistakes in this environment so he probably trips up a bit more. Russell is getting more appreciation.

Well, that’s why he’s left hasn’t he! He’s gone to where he feels he’ll be appreciated.

All these law and courtroom based dramas are so popular! What do you think it is about this setting that audiences find so appealing?

Yeah, they are! I don’t really know. I think it may be for the same reason I was attracted to the script; how it works behind the scenes. Judges play God in a way, they decide on a man or woman’s fate. Stakes are high, scandals are going on and people always like to hear about those. Corruption. Like when you see Clive Reeder sniffing coke after a case based around cocaine! That’s not far from some realities.

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It’s pure sensationalism isn’t it? We all love to know about someone who is in a high role or has some sort of a celebrity status, doing something naughty!

Yes, exactly!

I have to say I’ve been really enjoying it! You’re great, but I have to say I also love Martha Costello; she’s a woman, she’s strong and a fighter!

Yeah, she’s absolutely wonderful! To have a powerful woman who is the lead; you need more of those for a start. And then Maxine is one of the best, if not the best!

At one point Billy describes her as a cross between Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and a little Rottweiler and it’s just brilliant! Of course she’s inspirational with her fight for justice but she is a slightly idealised representation of a barrister perhaps?

Yeah, but she also has her faults! She works with her heart and we need more of that in the world.

More Martha Costellos please! She also has a great balance with Clive; he is there to sometimes provide the more logical aspect.

Yeah, and I love how you like Clive now which means he’s three dimensional, and I think the scripts have evolved more towards that in season 3; they’ve become more three dimensional.

Before Jake was a bit ‘comic relief’ but he’s becoming something more now. He feels even more real because he’s getting more ambitious, which is exactly what you would expect from someone in this position.

That definitely comes across.

So Theo, many of our reader may recognise you more from your role as Richard in The Inbetweeners film!

Yeah, I don’t mind that! I’m proud of that role. When I read that script…I mean they changed it a few times and it was still as hilarious every time.

It’s a great film mate, you should be proud! Your character is hilarious. You’ve also played a meth addict before, you’re in a suit now….

I also played a detective in The Fades. That series won a BAFTA! (Best Drama Award 2012) And it didn’t get re-commissioned, what’s that about?

Go on Theo, air out your anger!

I can only assume that as an actor you would want to explore as many different roles and genres as possible, am I right?

Definitely.

So we’ve got detective, meth addict, law clerk

Lunatics of all sorts, autistic…

So what’s the next role you’d want to take on? What you aiming for here?

A gay vicar!

That’s specific!

It’s not uncommon!

No, no it is not. And it would be incredibly relevant to current religious news.

Or a boxer! Because I’ve been boxing lately and I’ve fallen in love with the sport. There is something about the sport, and boxers that I really admire.

I love these two options here, the disparity between the two; gay vicar, or boxer.

So who would you like to work with in terms of actors and directors?

There are a few! Ben Wheatley would be up there. He makes films for not a lot of money, just to be good. Andrea Arnold, I think she’s an incredible director. In my absolute dreams, Scorsese! Clio Barnard who did The Selfish Giant, phenomenal film! And Tarantino, I love his films.

Actors, Tom Hardy obviously. Paddy Considine. I dunno…there is too many!

So tell me about your plans for the future!

There is like five, or maybe six projects I’ve been doing since Silk

So there is a pilot coming out called Alt, which is a comedy that takes place in a number of parallel universes. I make a cameo in that, which I really enjoyed. It’s from a director of Skins, Ben Caron, and Craig Roberts is in it.

Also, 600 Days, which is a comedy set in a prison and I’ve filmed 3 episodes for that. Filming another three in July. There is also Our World War I’m about to do, which is a true story about the first battle of the First World War and I play a character named Sir Godly. It’s a very interesting story but I can’t say much more or I’ll spoil it – but it is true people, true events. Guy called Bruce Goddison directed it.

Also, I’m about to do a pilot for ITV2 called Kerry [Theo switches into a farmer’s accent] set in the West Country and I’ve been practising that today!

Also played a Hasidic Jew for a short film called About A Goy.

Oooo, I see what they’ve done there!

Haha, there you go! I had to learn Yiddish for that! It was amazing; some friendly Hasidic Jews let me in on the Shabbos meal, so I did a lot of research for that. We just got money to kick start postproduction so that should be coming out soon in festivals. Really excited about that one!

Film called The Secret Service with Samuel L. Jackson with Mathew Vaughn directing. Michael Caine is also in it and Colin Firth.

So busy! Wow, you been hanging out with that gang?

I’ve met Colin Firth and he was lovely! Hopefully I can bump into Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine at a premier or something.

Oh, and I’m also doing The Interceptor.

Theo, do you sleep?

Nah, haven’t been sleeping!

Best of luck with everything Theo and I look forward to watching the seeing you in all these future projects!

Catch Silk, Monday nights on BBC One 9pm

And follow Theo on twitter to be up to date on all his endeavours!

Words: Irune Rue Chamberlain