Nicholas Fry has a fascinating job as a Historical Advisor. An actor himself who has appeared in on stage and television, including 'Coronation Street', 'Heartbeat', 'Cold Feet' and 'The Forsyte Saga', he now also works with people creating historical pieces who need help on how things should look, what costumes should be worn, what buildings should be in a shot, etc. As the Trivia sections on IMDb attest, people get very annoyed by period inaccuracies! (There were some recent articles about Sunday evening favourites, 'Poldark' and 'Victoria' playing fast and loose with history.) Working with organisations such as Creative England and Shepperton Studios, Nicholas can advise and catch any potentially expensive mistakes before they reach the screen, stage or page. If you need an advisor to help with your film, play or book, you can contact Nicholas via his website.
In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?
That the work is so varied. One day I can be advising about religious ceremonial, the next about the correct colours for an 18 century interior and the following day talking to an actor about how much Pitt the Younger drank each day! I work with art directors, photographers, exhibition designers, costume designers, production managers, writers and actors and the demands of each are very different.
Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?
Peter Brook, the theatre director. I saw his hugely influential RSC production of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ when I was 14 and it taught me very early on that it’s important to strip things back to their real meaning both in terms of design and style of presentation - less is always more or to put it another way, ‘show don’t tell’.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?
Always trust your own instincts and go with your gut reaction. While other people’s views should be heard, if you don’t follow your own creative impulses, you’ll never be really happy with the end result.
If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?
Do something completely different that involves going somewhere else – a change of physical location always gives you a new perspective on a problem.
And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?
Easy – a Venetian ‘chopine’. These were platform shoes popular in Venice in the 15 /16 /17 centuries which could be up to 20” high – nobody’s going to miss you in those!