Monday, April 20, 2009

Male on Monday: Philip Glenister

Fire up the Quattro! Today Michelle Styles examines the appeal of British actor, Philip Glenister.

About two years ago, I was writing Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife and needed a sort of lived in unreconstructed male to model my hero on. Fortunately, my husband had just bought the first series of Life on Mars and Philip Glenister fit the bill. Now, for a few weeks I went around thinking – okay, why does this man work as a hero? Then when the second series came out, I started to notice that various women journalists were also talking about Philip Glenister and the character, Gene Hunt. One even went so far to opine that he needed to his own series. After all he stole every scene he was in. By the time the spin off series appeared, the Gene Hunt/Philip Glenister as a full blown sex symbol was accepted in the general press. And this is a man who doesn't get the girl, doesn't do on screen kisses and still commands the viewer's attention. He just is an alpha male and I think well deserving a place on the Male on Monday roster.

If you are an aficionado of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! book on screenwriting, one could argue that the Life on Mars and indeed Demons falls into the Buddy Love genre . Think Lethal Weapon or buddy cop films. It is because the growth of the relationship between Glenister and his fellow lead carries the core of the plot. One could argue that Demons failed slightly because the chemistry between the two leads was not as strong as it is in Life on Mars.
So why? Is it just the character or is it the actor? Is the caveman fantasy? Or something more?
I would argue it is the actor, Philip Glenister and the core of integrity that he brings to his roles. He brings a certain intense concentration, warmth and humanity to his roles. You can tell the characters care and that his characters live by a code of honour. It might not be your code, but it is a code. And for any member of his team, he will give his all. There is a certain intensity and focus to his acting.

Before Life on Mars (the British version), his face was better known than his name. But since then he has appeared in Cranford and Demons as well as the Life on Mars franchise. He is a hardworking actor who has perfected his craft.

Born 10 February 1963, Philip Glenister is the son of the director, John Glenister and brother to actor Robert Glenister. After training at the Central School of Speech and Drama, Philip Glenister made his acting debut in 1990. While never out of work, he tended to play small and bit parts until he landed the role of Gene Hunt in 2006. He has also appeared in the movie Calendar Girls and Kingdom of Heaven.
As for his private life, what can one say except that he’s married to the actress Beth Goddard (who played Suzanne de Tournay in The Scarlet Pimpernel) and has two young daughters. They met 1996 at a friend's birthday party. When you read the interviews, he comes across as a family man and a hard working actor. He is also a firm supporter of the BBC and the excellent work it can do, but is also a strong advocate for good writing and thinks that Mrs Gaskell rocks. Definitely hero type material in his private life then.
Oh and Ashes to Ashes returns to BBC 1 tonight ( 20 April). So if you are wondering what all the fuss is about, make sure you watch. You will be glad you did.

Michelle Styles's latest, Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife is out in the shops now. While Philip Glenister did not serve as a model for that book's hero, she does insist all her heroes have a certain core of integrity.


  1. I love Gene Hunt, he has the best lines in all three series. Absolute crackers. Will be watching on the net, wish the ABC would get with the program.

  2. Natalie --
    Hooray that you understand!
    And yes he does get the best lines...
    I am so looking forward to the new series.

  3. Can't wait for the new series to start tonight. Better still, I will have finished my current book and sent it to my editor, so it'll be guilt-free pleasure, curled up on the sofa with DH and a glass of wine. Yay!

  4. He has come a long way since Hornblower. I also really enjoyed him in Calendar Girls and especially as a Nazi officer in PBS's Island at War. But he was lovely in Cranford which as you know is one of my faves.

    And I did not know that she was his wife! The Scarlet Pimpernel (that particular miniseries) also a big fave of mine....

  5. yes, well once I realised, I thought that he showed excellent taste and sense in picking his wife.

    I know what you mean, Kate H about getting books done so one can watch guilt free.

  6. Loved Life on Mars, primarily for Gene Hunt and those hilarious one-liners - plus those of us who can remember the seventies now have conclusive proof how comprehensively naff it really was (nylon bed sheets anyone??).

    Wasn't so enthusiastic about Ashes to Ashes, found Keeley Hawes really annoying actually, but will watch again tonight and hope to be persuaded.

    Good pick Michelle.

  7. Oh, what a treat for a Monday. I luuurrrrve Philip Glenister (or maybe it's Gene Hunt...). Can't wait for Ashes to Ashes tonight, but then I'm an 80s girl - had the leg warmers and the rara skirt to prove it (although maybe I shouldn't admit to that).

  8. And I thought the new series was great!!!