A home-grown BAFTA winner

Darren Boyd in Hastleons production of Camelot
Darren Boyd in Hastleons production of Camelot

A FORMER Hastleons member and William Parker student, who has gone on to a successful career in television has scooped a BAFTA at this year’s awards.

Darren Boyd, 41, is a familiar face from shows such as Green Wing, Smack The Pony, and Kiss Me Kate, and last weekend won a BAFTA for Male Performance in a Comedy Programme’for his lead role in Sky 1 sitcom Spy, in which he starred alongside Robert Lindsay.

Darren was born and bred in Hastings and spent around 10 years performing with amateur musical theatre society The Hastleons, first cast in their 1987 production of Carousel aged 16.

He joined on ‘a bit of a whim’ after being introduced by Steve Cork, who has remained a lifelong friend, and said that this was a ‘eureka’ moment in terms of his acting career.

“An organisation like that, it is not about the thing itself, it is about the people involved that make up that collective world.”

“It was like the most incredible 10-year apprenticeship, to not only have a passion, but to act on it.”

It was through these early performances with The Hastleons, that he found his singing voice.

Alan Stace, then chairman of The Hastleons, when asked what made Darren stand out, said: “He had a fantastic voice.”

Other Hastleons productions in which he took the lead include Chess, Camelot, Kismet, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Darren lived in Hastings until the age of 25, and was also involved with Phoenix Theatre, and The Stables Theatre. He remains a regular visitor as his parents and other close friends and family members still live locally.

After school he went on to art college, and then took a year out, before his break came when he was cast in Les Miserables in London’s West End.

“I was spotted by another member of the cast who happened to be writing a pilot for the BBC,” he said.

“It was so big a leap from anything that was on my radar, that I just ran with it.”

This pilot was for the 1998 comedy Kiss Me Kate starring Caroline Quentin, and the part of Craig, to be his first television role, was written with him in mind. Darren has not looked back since, and his work has spanned comedy and drama on radio, TV, film and theatre.

He said however that he felt completely stunned when his was the winning name read out at the BAFTA award ceremony last Sunday, and his legs turned to lead when he had to make ‘that walk’ to the stage.

From musical theatre to television comedy seems like a long journey, but musing on his career trajectory, Darren said: “It is really important to remember that sometimes it is OK to let life happen to you.”