Holding a torch for Gareth
By Jo Barnes/8th December 2006/NP Life
Newport-born Gareth David-Lloyd is making a name for himself in the hit TV show Torchwood. Jo Barnes chatted to him over a coffee and here's what she found out
Sitting sipping coffee in the Riverfront caf, Newport actor Gareth David-Lloyd admits he'd love to one day buy a flat facing the river in his home city.
And Gareth, who is one of the stars of the popular Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, would love his flat to be in the former art college -if they ever get done!' he says.
We are chatting over looking the River Usk with the new footbridge in the background.
Gareth, wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the legend Owain Glyndwr, says his acting career is mainly thanks to his Auntie Doris who took him to drama lessons.
"My mum was in work a lot when I was in school," says the former Bettws High School pupil. "Her and my Auntie Doris decided I needed some extra curricular activites so I was taken to the drama lessons. I started at the Blackwood Miners Institute and then became a member of the Dolman Youth Theatre."
Gareth grew up in Bettws and attended Monnow Junior School, where his acting career really started.
"I enjoyed doing plays when I was at junior school," he says. "That's all I wanted to do. I studied drama at high school and my teacher Pauline Craven gave me a lot of support."
As a teenager he was regularly seen on stage in Newport and the surrounding area. He enjoyed being in a Henry V production at Monmouth Castle and was spotted in Macbeth at the same venue by Peter Williams, who went on to teach him when he was studying performing arts at Cross Keys College.
"He saw me in Macbeth and told me he got quite excited when he knew I was going to be studying at the college. He gave me some really good advice while I was there," he says.
The stage was where he saw his career going - he had ambitions of performing with the RSC or the National Theatre. He has appeared in other TV shows including Absolute Power and The Genius of Beethoven but admits that getting the part of Ianto in Torchwood has been a huge bonus - especially because it brought him home to Wales. For those interested in trivia, Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who.
"I used to watch Sylvester McCoy as Dr Who when I was a child but I was never fanatical about the show," he admits.
But when the part came up he knew he wanted to audition for it.
"I loved the idea that Torchwood was a spin-off of Dr Who. There is more adult drama in it and a lot of humanity. It has now become its own beast. The more it distances itself from Dr Who is one of the reasons it has become more popular than a lot of spin-off shows. It gets its own audiences many of whom are not into Dr Who at all and in fact there are a number of Dr Who fans who really hate it!"
Gareth is hoping that there will be a second series of Torchwood next year and has ambitions of playing Macbeth on film but his heart still lies with the stage and live performances.
"I'd love to play Hal in Henry IV one and two and Henry V straight through. They are seldom done all together."
Although Gareth is now recognised by fans of the TV show (mainly in London he stresses) his feet are firmly rooted in his Welsh homeland soil.
Torchwood was filmed in and around Cardiff and also at Tredegar House and the Westgate in Newport. He tries to get home to his home city as often as he can to see his family and friends.
"I enjoy it here. A lot of my friends are here. I grew up drinking in pubs like the Murrenger, which is still my favourite pub of all time. There are some places in the city centre I would steer clear of but there are plenty I love like TJs, Le Pub and the Riverside but the Murrenger is my haven when I come back. I meet my mates there for a drink.
"They have been great. You hear a lot of horror stories of people changing when they find success but I am still me and they are still them. Most of them do things that are completely different to what I do so it's quite refreshing to come home to chat to them."
He says you can't help but notice the changes happening in the city.
"It is happening all around you," he says. "I've got huge respect for GLC and the Dirty Sanchez guys who are bringing a new life into the city making it cool and a bit more popular.
"The area has changed a lot over the years. We've got a great new theatre and the city is getting a lot more attention. It is starting to look really nice and the plans for its future are really exciting. It is definitely one of my places to buy a flat. I'd love one in the old art college," he admits.
And Gareth is looking forward to Christmas, which this year he's spending in Ammanford with his girlfriend, Sara, who he met on the set of Torchwood, and his Auntie Doris.
And if anyone wants to buy him a present?
"I'd love an Aston Martin if I could have my pick of anything! The one I like is £85,000," he hints.