Ian Moore: ‘Don’t wait for your boat to come in, swim out to it’

Award-winning playwright, director and producer Ian Moore tells all in our Q&A

Photo: Shawn John
Photo: Shawn John

Award-winning playwright, director and producer Ian Moore was born in Sunderland in the North-East of England. Moore was a performer from the tender age of eleven with a series of theatre credits and tv shows such as When the Boat Comes In, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, Byker Grove and Auf Weidersehen, Pet to his name. Whilst a jobbing actor, he studied English Literature and Theatre Studies at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle. His directorial debut was in 1984 with David Halliwell’s Little Malcolm and his struggle against the Eunuchs. Moore’s latest project is Othello at the Manoel Theatre which runs from 13 to 15 May.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Sadly, I check my phone, wishing I didn’t.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Don’t wait for your boat to come in, swim out to it.” Revered film and TV director, the late great John Sichel imparted this pearl of wisdom when we were working together in 1991.

What do you never leave the house without?

Other than keys, wallet, phone, glasses… I would have to say an objective. Where am I going and what do I want when I get there; whether it’s shopping or business, I do the same for both.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Driven. Approachable. Decent.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Outside of my kids (I’ve two girls), I would say being founder of Black Box, one of the UK’s leading creative arts businesses; I was instrumental in delivering productions, projects and workshops across the UK reaching more than an estimated six million people and young children over a 20-year period.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Chocolate; if anyone has any, hunting season is open, and if they put it down, it’s free game.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Admit when you’re wrong or you don’t know something; it isn’t a failure.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

I’m not a material person so it wouldn’t be an item or article, probably a holiday.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

It gets better.

Who’s your inspiration?

Perversely, my father. To be all the things he could have been but was prevented from because of events that happened in his life. He was in no way a failure but certainly an intelligent man who underachieved due to the hand he was dealt. It saddens me.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Life and living it. So much has happened but there is still so much to do with so little time; maybe I should lobby for 25/8 as 24/7 isn’t working for me.

If you weren’t a theatre director what would you be doing?      

Without theatre I am nothing; just dig a hole two metres deep, one metre wide and two metres in length and, without theatre, I’d simply climb in and say goodbye.

Do you believe in God?

I believe in an almighty power which is beyond our comprehension but I do not worship it.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

William Shakespeare (obviously), Augusto Boal, Patrick Stewart, Marlon Brando, Dame Judi Dench, Maya Angelou, Mohammad Ali, Malcolm X, Charles Dickens, Robin Williams, Claude Debussy, Picasso, Bob Stokoe and Emlyn Hughes

What’s your worst habit?

Asking for advice and then ignoring it, doing what I think is the right thing anyway

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I was a mess. But I am always proud to tell people I’ve been alcohol-free since 2005. A life-choice.

Who would you have play you in a film?

David Tennant – lol.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Lack of punctuality. “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late,” as Shakespeare once wrote (in Merry Wives of Windsor).

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Mr Blue Sky by ELO.

What is your most treasured material possession?

If my apartment were on fire, I’d grab a mug I have on display which is from my daughter, she is now 34 and she gave me the mug as a gift when she was 10.

What is your earliest memory?

Choking on orange peel, being held upside down by my father and whacked on the back to dislodge it. I was four, I think.

When did you last cry, and why?

Have you watched Ricky Gervais’s ‘After Life’, end of Season Three ripped me apart; I could hardly breathe the pain was that deep and the tears were torrent-like.

Who would you most like to meet?

Shakespeare’s peers such as Ben Johnson, Edward Allen, Will Kemp – I’ll be dining with Will so could get some in-depth background on the man.

What’s your favourite food?

Ham sandwich or lamb shank, oh, and chocolate.  I don’t eat fruit, ‘cos there’s no chocolate in it.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

I don’t have one but actor Stephen Olive and theatre entrepreneur Adrian Buckle – both have a knack of making me laugh when they repost things they come across.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

I’d go back about two weeks and take info with me about what’s going to happen – lottery numbers, football results, stock exchange facts and the like. Money isn’t too important to me but I’ve been in a position of not having any and I’d rather not go there again. I’d also do more for charities with my winnings.

What book are you reading right now?

Charles Dickens’s Bleak House; it’s a slog, not his best but still unbelievable narrative. I’m an avid reader and always looking for recommendations.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Super-speed is something I’d like but it would have to include the ability to travel through time, like The Flash.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

I’m in a really happy place at the moment to be honest. My one and only existing “ambition” is to take six months out and drive across USA in a Winnebago, touring the country state to state, bouncing across the landscape from city to city.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

I’ve an eclectic mix on three playlists; my first is classical from Debussy to Khachaturian via Vivaldi. On a second, I’m stuck in the late 1970s early 80’s with popular tracks from The Jam, Peter Gabriel, The Stranglers, The Undertones, The Ruts. My third is anyone who doesn’t fit into the first two and includes work from the French artist, composer Arthur H and Malta’s New Victorians.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I prefer the bath to the shower and nothing better than relaxing classical tracks to chill out to.  And working out!?!? What’s that? No. Not me!