Carter family patriarch Stan is to cause real problems in the coming weeks when an ankle injury results in him moving into the Queen Vic. Mick (Danny Dyer) allows his dad to stay until he has recuperated, despite Shirley’s (Linda Henry) objections. And although Stan does begin to bond with his relations, it isn’t long before he’s revealing his true colours and Mick is telling his father exactly how he feels. Here, veteran actor Timothy West tells us more about Stan’s intentions:
How would you describe Stan – cantankerous, malevolent, lonely…?
Malevolent is a bit strong. He does disagreeable things. He’s certainly lonely, though he wouldn’t admit that to a soul. He’s getting towards the end of his life and he has very few friends because he doesn’t go out very much, so he wants to be reconnected with his family.
It’s a very fractured relationship but he wants to be a member of the family. He wants to be the head of the family. He sees himself as the ‘paterfamilias’ in the Victorian sense. He’s the head of the family and therefore deserves respect and consideration and should be the first person that the rest of the family consider. The rest of the family don’t see it in that way, of course, and his behaviour doesn’t incline them to see it that way. But that’s what he really feels should happen.
Do you like the way that the Carter family backstory is being teased out quite slowly and not just dumped on us?
I think that’s very good and it was very surprising to me. When you do a play you know the whole story before you come to rehearsals. Here, you’re constantly being surprised by a new development that you didn’t necessarily think was part of your character’s make up. You’re learning all the time, which is fascinating.
Have you done your first scene in The Vic then? Was that like a rite of passage?
Yes, I’ve done several scenes in The Vic. Although because of my broken ankle, they’ve had to write in an accident for Stan, which has enabled Mick to feel he has to bring him to The Vic to recuperate. But, of course, he’s been shunted upstairs. Stan’s got his own bed in the lounge, which is a nuisance for the rest of the family, but it installs him quite well.He does, however, get thrown out quite a few times. But he gets back in.
So, what’s the reason in the story for Stan being in hospital?
It’s the same that what actually happened to me in reality – a broken ankle. Whether he has had surgery or not, I don’t know. We first see him in hospital. He’s been in for a few days, so I think he has had the same surgery as I have. Having your ankle pinned means he’s got to spend quite a lot of time in plaster, and eventually, he will be able to hobble about.
There’s a dinner scene where Stan reveals his true colours – can you tell us more about that?
Yes, he manages to offend everyone because he hasn’t got any kind of social tact at all. In fact, if he was confronted about not having any social tact, he would ask what social tact was and why it was necessary.
There are members of the family that he finds more congenial than others. He likes Johnny but can’t really cope with the fact he is gay. Yet after an initial, very rude couple of outbursts about both Tina and Johnny being gay, he warms to them both.
We know there’s a damaged family history concerning Mick and Stan – so how does Mick react to Stan being at the Vic?
Mick very much blames Stan for things that have gone wrong for him. And there are things that he doesn’t know about, things that he is confused about and things he’s unhappy about. It’s all so complicated. We’re finding out more and more about the past history.
Do you hope that Stan’s children and grandchildren will soften towards him or do you quite like the brittleness?
No, I don’t like the brittleness. I assume that has to be there in such a relationship but no, he enjoys the warmth. When Tina is kind to him, he likes that. He would like them to be a very warm, respectful family, on his terms.
Are there any characters – excluding the Carters – with whom you’d like to share some scenes?
I’m afraid I’m still very ignorant about a lot of the rest of the characters as when I get a hunk of script I just go through the scenes that happen in our family. I mean, I watch the show and I am fascinated by the different stories but I don’t get involved. I, though, have enormous respect for June Brown.