Hi there, friends and fans!
Today I’m presenting an interview with another of the awesome narrators who have recorded some of my books as audiobooks – this time I’ll be talking to Nigel Peever!
Nigel recently agreed to an interview, and this is the result!
Let’s begin with a quick introduction:
Nigel Peever is a UK based actor “with thirty years experience in Theatre and TV and especially pantomime. Originally gaining equity status the traditional way through weekly rep at the Lyceum Theatre in Crewe straight from school and college and his first professional production with The Rollingstock Theatre Company when he was aged just 14.
Since turning pro aged 19 in 1985 Nigel has worked extensively in Theatre and TV. With many long term working relationships with companies like. Rigoletto Ltd (20 years) Danny Davies Productions, Presto Puppets (3 years as puppeteer).
Notable commercial credits include lead roles in commercials for JJB sports, Mystocks.de (filmed in Hamburg) and Carpet Junction, Memorex. TV, The Sharp End, The Bill, and Paul Merton.
Nigel is now a regular audiobook reader with Greenbank studios and Oakhill Publishing reading unabridged audiobooks.” – Official website.
Me: Nigel, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview! This is the David Copperfield bit – where and when were you born, how would you describe your early life, family, life experience and background?
Nigel: I was born in the 1960’s in the north west of England in a famous railway town of Crewe. The youngest of two brothers to a working class family, my father worked for the post office before returning to work for Rolls Royce where he’d trained as an upholsterer (coach trimmer) before his national service in the navy, with whom he’d been present at the Christmas Island nuclear tests in the 1950’s, which might have sealed his fate from various cancers when I was 33. I started acting at a fairly early age.
My first pro job was aged 14 in a play called The Runners where I was a baddie who framed someone trying to make a new start in a local athletics club. I went on to do a lot of amateur dramatics which resulted in me being offered an equity card with the local Pro rep theatre company at the beautiful Edwardian Lyceum Theatre in Crewe when I was 19.
Me: Before doing audio narration work, you’d already been an actor on stage, street performances, and in several movies and TV series – in fact, you turned pro at the tender age of 19 so it’s no surprise that you have a rather lengthy CV! How would you like to sum up your experience as an actor? What would the definitive description of your life as Nigel Peever, actor, be if you had to write it?
Nigel: My career has been a bit all over the place, some good jobs, a lot of less prestigious work. One day you can be working on well known TV show and the next you’re handing out bags of crisps dressed as a monster munch monster in a supermarket. There is a big difference between RADA trained London actors and us jobbing provincial actors, we do tours and rep and pantomimes. I’ve not had much success with TV although I did do a lot of background work and one liners and several good parts on commercials. I wasn’t able to break into any substantial parts. So it’s been more fun than lucrative.
Me: What made you decide to be an actor?
Nigel: I think it came about through being a Dr. Who fan, I had a best friend at school who wanted to be an actor so we joined the local youth theatre together and it all sort of trundled along. I think there was a moment where my career changed course. I had been offered a part in a repertory play with an equity card just for a few weeks while I was still at college but suddenly Equity became involved saying it couldn’t happen and I found myself in the position of having to decide to give up the Equity card and go back to college and follow the drama school route which would have been quite embarrassing as it’d been publicized widely, or take up an assistant stage manager role with the rep company until I could earn the equity card another way. So I left college that day and effectively “ran away to join the circus” metaphorically speaking.
Me: Of all the parts you’ve played as an actor, which ones are your favorites?
Nigel: I did get to play Toad in Wind in the Willows in our rep Christmas Production, so that was very nice, I did get to work on one of the Christopher Eccleston Dr. Who episodes and work with Katy Manning as Jo grant for Big finish in a Dr. Who. I’m very proud of my series of humorous German Commercials for Mystockde (1), (2), (3). I did get to play a Dalek once when Colin Baker appeared at the Blackpool Dr. Who exhibition. Did I say I liked Dr. Who?
Me: What would you say have been the highlights of your life so far?
Nigel: I’ve been very lucky to have met my soulmate and best friend and we’ve been together for over 30 years, so the highlight would have to be making it official and proposing at Disneyland in Florida then we had a very small ceremony with just immediate family on our 25th anniversary of meeting. As actors we do get to meet some amazing famous people, I spent a night filming with Tom Baker in a Granada TV show called Medics. I was an anesthetist and Tom was the surgeon, but it was remarkable to spend time with a childhood hero! I also met Sir John mills on A tale of Two Cities.
Me: What sort of effect would you say your sexual orientation has had on your professional life? Positives? Negatives? Any incidents, highlights or lowlights you could use as examples?
Nigel: It’s remarkable the changes that have taken place during my life, when I was born it was still illegal to be gay in the UK, so as a child at school I knew nothing about it and had a confusing adolescence. Since then the aids crisis, our governments clause 28 stifling “promotion” of homosexuality, then came the positives, civil partnerships and more recently marriages As an actor it actually helps from a practical point of view as the responsibilities of being a husband and father don’t lend themselves well to being a precariously employed thespian! If you are earning you aren’t at home, if you are at home for everyone you aren’t working and earning. So it’s helped from that point of view. But it doesn’t bode well for the future, both of our families have no one to carry on the name. Fortunately the acting profession has always been accepting of gay actors.
Me: What made you decide to narrate audiobooks?
Nigel: I did record a Dr. Who one for myself as a kid on cassette tape and I did used to read to my mum as a child so I must have been interested but it really started as a job I was offered through a casting site. In those days they were all CD box sets for libraries and audible was in its infancy. I did quite a few through company called Oakhill publishing, and when they closed down as the industry changed, their lovely sound recording technician called Liam recommended ACX to me and I started recording at home instead of the posh Manchester studio in 2016. Things have improved a lot since then, including buying a recording booth for several thousand pounds just in time for the start of the pandemic. Without the audiobooks I don’t know what I would have done as the acting industry just about closed down completely at that time.
Me: You do voice characterizations – and I must say, very well! I must admit that when I first heard you doing such a variety of voices, from deep masculine voices, to softer female characters in Blachart I was very impressed! How do you do it?
Nigel: I always wanted to be a character actor, so I’ve always mimicked accents and funny voices, when I do theatre I tend to use a LOT of make up! I can even make my own lace wigs. So I think I’m the kind of actor that hides behind being someone else rather than playing myself.
Me: Two of the things I liked best about your recordings of Blachart and Demonspawn were the voice characterizations and sound effects you added! Would you mind walking us through how you achieved that – from how you selected the appropriate voices and effects, to how you slotted them into the tracks?
Nigel: I’ve learned a lot over the last six years with producing the books. I’d done numerous audio plays and really admire the company Big Finish who produce Dr. Who plays with the original TV actors as well as numerous other TV franchises. So I wanted to do something like what they did so it’s advanced through making my own effects, garage band music, buying licenses for a few pieces of music and nowadays it’s just so easy to get affordable licenses online that I can produce an almost fully cinematic audiobook using those licenses. I’d been an enthusiastic film maker and had won a number of awards for my short films, so I was already very familiar with the editing process.
Me: There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in the process of recording an audiobook, from preparing to record the story in chapters, to the actual recording, to the final uploading and submission. Would you like to describe your “process”, from taking on a book, to determining what you need to do, to completion?
Nigel: I read it all and decide on the characters, the process has changed since recording in the Oakhill studios, in those days you had to be highly prepared and fluent, you had to record at least four and half hours of finished usable material in a day, I would usually get six hours plus. As I’m now at home and he finished product is very different in style, it’s a lot easier as it takes me as long as it takes and if I have to go back and re record then so be it. I allow about a month for each book. I do them this way because I like them this way. It would seem very odd to create audiobooks in a way I do not enjoy. I struggle with listening to just straight narration. I want more! I respect that many people do not like music and effects in audio books but I am not one of those people.
Have you read yet? Read here why you should!
Me: What would pass for a typical day in the life of Nigel Peever? Do you have a daily routine? Do you plan your day around recording audiobooks, or do you plan your recording sessions around your day?
Nigel: It is more than a full time job, I record all day every day in the week, and on Saturday mornings while my husband is rehearsing with a choral group. I’m running my Facebook group “Audiobooks for free” all the time morning noon and night We giveaway promocodes for audible audiobooks to promote them. I’m delighted my system has turned out so well as we now have 13,500 members. So if I’m not recording or editing a book I’m advertising an old one. Because I’m self employed and do very little live work anymore (because I’m getting too old for that malarkey!) I enjoy it and am able to spend all my time making the books.
Me: What would you say is the most rewarding aspect to being an audiobook narrator for you?
Nigel: It has to be having the artistic control, that I get to play everyone and decide everything. So I often say “I don’t just get all the best lines, I get ALL the lines….and the stage directions too!” It’s hard when you get a bad review (and sometimes just darn right insulting), but fortunately, although I do get the one-star-giving special effects haters, the majority of the responses and reviews have been very positive and kind and I have number of listeners to whom I am extremely grateful for their support and encouragement.
Nigel: I wanted to do some sci fi because of being a Dr. Who fan, so I enjoyed the world building and robot voices etc.
Me: You recorded the first two audiobooks in the Galaxii series. Does anything stand out, or what comes to mind that were the funniest or most interesting, tense or entertaining bits in these books for you?
Nigel: It was great to have the gay characters in sci fi that are treated as perfectly normal. We need those characters. I’ve just been watching Heartstopper on Netflix and it’s remarkable that we are still going through a process of acceptance and it is a long slow process, we aren’t there yet. I enjoyed playing the baddie robot creature enormously, well when your dream has always been to play a Dalek you’re bound to!
Me: Lastly, do you have any message for your followers and fans?
Nigel: I don’t like to use the word “fans”, because quite simply I’m not really there….but there are a number of listeners who have followed a number of the audiobooks I’ve produced and their encouragement and kind words have really meant a lot to me and for that I am more grateful than they can Imagine.
Me: Nigel, thank you so much for doing this interview!
Lastly, I’d like to mention for the benefit of the audience, that all Nigel’s audiobooks are available on Audible and Amazon. You can find out more on Nigel’s website. Nigel also made the following audiobook trailer videos for Blachart and Demonspawn:
Well that’s it, folks, until next time, keep reading!
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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2022.