‘Wurzel’ Glossop was one of the main, and most memorable characters, from the ITV children’s TV show Murphy’s Mob.
Policeman’s son Wurzel was a much downtrodden upon character, who at times never seemed able to do anything right. He wasn’t the brightest kid in school, but he was certainly one of the wittiest, played in fine comic style by Lewis Stevens.
For those of you who remember Wurzel and the series as fondly as myself, we have a treat in store. AFTN caught up with Lewis a few years back and chatted to him about his time on the series and what he’s been doing since:
AFTN: HOW DID YOU LAND THE PART OF WURZEL IN MURPHY’S MOB?
LS: I was at a local weekend drama club in North London and the Producers of Murphy’s Mob came to see one of the stage shows we put on twice a year – they were looking for regular ‘normal’ kids, so they looked wider than the normal drama schools. They invited a whole bunch of us to come to an audition – and I got lucky!
AFTN: WE FIRST SAW YOU ON OUR SCREENS FOUR YEARS EARLIER WHEN YOU APPEARED ON CRACKERJACK’S YOUNG ENTERTAINERS IN 1978. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GO INTO SHOW BUSINESS AT SUCH AN EARLY AGE?
LS: I started doing stand-up comedy at the age of 7! I used to enter talent competitions each year while on holiday at various holiday camps around the UK. I just enjoyed it and was always amazed that it seemed quite easy to win them – I don’t think I realised how unusual it was for a kid of that age to be on stage telling jokes… Then Crackerjack advertised for ‘Young Entertainers’ to contact them – so my mum sent in a postcard and that’s how it happened.
AFTN: DO YOU HAVE FOND MEMORIES OF YOUR TIME IN MURPHY’S MOB?
LS: I had a great time for the whole 4 years we made the show. It was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed it. It was great to have that opportunity to get so much TV acting experience and to work with some great adult actors. I was also interested in the ‘behind the scenes’, so loved just hanging around and watching what was going on.
AFTN: ANY STANDOUT HIGHLIGHTS?
LS: Although I have never got into a real fight – we had a few fight scenes which were really great to do – and were choreographed by real fight co-coordinators. One involving water buckets outside Watford Football Club and another in a later episode that had us all throwing lots of cakes and ice creams. I really enjoyed the scenes where there was comedy and I could really get into it. The writers saw that I enjoyed and was good at the comedy, so they began to write two-hander scenes between me and Mr Cassidy and between me and Rasputin and they were always very fulfilling to do well.
AFTN: WAS IT DIFFICULT TO JUGGLE FILMING WITH YOUR EVERYDAY SCHOOLWORK?
LS: It was difficult, but I didn’t mind it. I used to work a lot of the week on Murphy’s Mob (away from home in Nottingham for Series 3 and 4) and come back home at weekends when I would do my school work. My maths teacher gave me private tuition on Sunday mornings.
AFTN: IT MUST BE A NICE FEELING TO KNOW THAT SOMETHING YOU DID SO MANY YEARS AGO IS HELD IN HIGH REGARD AND CULT STATUS TODAY. YOUR CHARACTER IN PARTICULAR IS VERY FONDLY REMEMBERED. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
LS: I’ve been really pleased with the reaction to the clips that are up on YouTube – it seems to have stirred a lot of memories. I think Wurzel was a likeable character with a good heart – he was always trying to persuade the adults to do things, but in a way that made them think it was their idea. He was often getting into scrapes and had some good comedy moments, so I guess he was good fun to watch.
AFTN: WHY DO YOU THINK THERE’S NEVER BEEN A DVD RELEASE OF THE SERIES? DO YOU THINK THERE EVER WILL BE ONE?
LS: The show came off air in 1986, so I think that was before DVD releases were as common as they are now. I have recently been asking ITV if there’s a chance of licensing the DVD rights but have not got much response from them. I’m unsure if demand would be big enough to support a DVD release though? I think a fan’s website that streamed clips and full length programmes and enabled fans to post comments and questions etc would be an interesting idea though.
AFTN: THAT WOULD BE CERTAINLY BE EXCELLENT AND ENJOYABLE. WHAT IMPACT DID BEING A NATIONAL TEENAGE TV STAR HAVE ON YOUR LIFE?
LS: Not much really. I did get noticed quite a bit when it was on (and got asked to sign a few autographs) – and very occasionally still do – but that was about it really. It gave me tremendous experience at an early age, so I guess I grew up a lot doing it.
AFTN: DO YOU STILL KEEP IN TOUCH WITH ANY OF THE CAST OF THE SHOW?
LS: I lost contact with all of the cast, but since the video clips have been up on YouTube I have been contacted by many other cast members that also played kids roles in the series. So I am in e-mail contact with some of them and hopefully I’ll get to meet up with them at some point. It’ll be interesting to meet up after 20+ years!
AFTN: YEAH, THAT COULD BE INTERESTING AND SCARY! WHAT DIRECTION HAS LIFE TAKEN YOU SINCE THE SHOW?
LS: After finishing Murphy’s Mob, I went to Oxford to study Engineering, Economics and Management, where I began to produce theatre, as well as act in it. A couple of years after graduating, I worked in the West End for a theatre producer, before joining Granada TV as a management Trainee. I then went to Los Angeles to do an MBA at UCLA and came back to the UK to work at the BBC – in business development roles related to the web and new technologies. I left the BBC last summer and now run my own consulting firm focused on digital strategy and business development for media companies.
I haven’t been acting much, but I did dabble with stand-up comedy again last year, which was fun. I do miss acting, so would love to do something else again at some point…
AFTN: WELL GOOD LUCK WITH ALL THAT LEWIS. THANKS SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CHAT WITH US. IT’S BEEN REALLY ENJOYABLE GOING DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH YOU. CHEERS.