"Simon isn't Bad. He's just misunderstood."
— Peter Wingfield in the Ambridge Village Voice

Wingfield Dr Helm

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"Villains of Ambridge"
by Peter Wingfield
Ambridge Village Voice
? 1997

We asked Peter Wingfield what it's like to play Bad Boy of Ambridge — Simon Pemberton.

Peter writes: "What do you mean, 'Bad Boy'? Simon isn't Bad. He's just misunderstood. I haven't had a problem with any of the things he's been required to do, except when he has gone through periods of being sickeningly nice. Urggh! Not that it was difficult. But the rest of the time he seems to me to have been behaving perfectly rationally within the information he has to hand and consistent with his view of the world.

"Quite seriously, you can't play someone thinking that they're a bad person. You have to have some sympathy for them somewhere, or at the very least think that they believe they are acting rationally. It has never worried me with Simon. Indeed, there are particular little things which I've loved about him — the way he dealt with the Grundy boy getting knocked off his bike by that lorry, for instance. The thing which really got to everybody, deep down, was that Simon was completely innocent. It wasn't anything to do with him. They all just wished it had been him driving the lorry. But it wasn't. And then they wanted some kind of sympathetic attitude, which just isn't part of Simon's make-up. He said he was sorry it hat happened. That was that. An end to it. But, oh no, everyone wanted more sympathy, more remorse, more guilt. Sorry. Not possible. He's not like that. And I loved the fact that when he wrote to Eddie, he didn't even sign the letter himself; he got Susan to do it. Beautiful little detail that. So revealing. Very subtle writing.

"That, in a way, is the joy of Simon. He's very uncluttered. At his best he is a powerhouse of directness and decision. His judgment isn't clouded by being emotional about things. He looks at a problem clearly and calmly, sees what is to be done, and then simply does it. We'd all love to be able to do that, to be able to act and not suffer the doubts, the paranoia that we've chosen the wrong option. Just think, always to believe that you've done the right thing. Bliss! But that's one of the things that makes him so infuriating — he always knows he's right. If only he would get things wrong once in a while. I mean, he was even right about getting out of dairy farming!

"Of course, on a personal level, things are far less smooth. But, there you go. There is a price to pay for everything. Would Simon swap his cool detachment for a little more humanity and more consideration for other people's needs, which might make his relationships run rather better? Well, I know what I think."

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