Tim McArthur: Me, myself and I

Actor, singer and radio presenter Tim McArthur migrates to Spain for winter sun, parties hard in New York and would love to visit Iceland.

Where are you from originally?

A small town called Guisborough near Middlesbrough up North on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors. I moved here in 1992 to attend Mountview Theatre School. Full of dreams – 17, hairy and never been kissed.

And where do you live now? 

In the village of Highgate, at the top of a steep hill – with my partner of 10 years, Philippe – Il est moitie francais. We would love a doggy but because we both travel a lot with our work, sadly we don’t. However, we do have an imaginary dog called Lulu – no relation to the singer.

What do you love about London and why? 

I love London, lived here for 26 years and my heart is always here. Nearly all my work is based in London. I love the theatre scene and the diversity of our great capital. But, as I am getting older, I long for warmer weather and warmer winters. I now visit Nerja in Spain at least two times a year, normally in January when I finish being a pantomime dame, and April is always glorious. 

What was the first gay venue you visited? 

I left school in 1992 and came to London for six weeks. I was staying with my brother, I knew I was gay and ventured into Soho to Comptons. It was when the bar was against the wall. Let’s just say I had an adventurous time and I had my own experience of being against the wall. 

How would you describe what it is you do? 

Interesting question. I started my career as an actor specialising in musical theatre. But over the years, I have been given so many wonderful opportunities in so many fields of the entertainment industry that weren’t on my agenda. From directing to TV/radio presenting to writing and even dressing up as a nun. So I continue to juggle many hats – I should read Horse & Hound, that’s for people who juggle their lives. I am returning to my musical theatre roots and appearing in Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods at The Cockpit Theatre, giving my Baker. 

You are doing a Eurovision party at The RVT – what is your all-time favourite Eurovision song?

I love The RVT and for the past five years I have directed their pantos. My comedy nun Sister Mary McArthur is celebrating all things Eurovision with her special Eurovision Playtime on Wednesday 9 May. My favourite song has to be Gina G’s Ooh Aah Just a Little Bit, which was number one twice – and I used to know the full dance routine.

What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it? 

Ruthless at The Arts Theatre – showbiz, show tunes, stagey mums, bitchy – just hilarious! Everything we love and hate about this business. Tracie Bennett is a star. 

What is your guilty pleasure and why?

Sweets, chocolates, twinkles – a posh cocktail at The Ivy – and vampires. I blame David Soul in Salem’s Lot. 

Biggest extravagance?

In February I flew to New York City for six weeks. I went because I was asked to perform my solo show Mountains at Feinstein’s 54 Below on Broadway in March. I decided to promote the show a month before and basically have a jolly. But also catch up with mates, see shows, sing in piano bars and discover vodka stingers.

Best gift you’ve ever received? 

I would say life. Every day is precious. We get one shot, so make the most of it. 

What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?

In April my first play that I wrote opened for a two-week season. It’s called Control. We received five star reviews. People know me for my humour, fun and light heartedness, but I think Control surprised some people as it’s about gay mental abuse in a relationship. I’m hoping it will be revived.

If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why? 

My mum suddenly sadly passed away in 2016 – she had been ill for a while but her illness was manageable. So I’d go back to the year before she died, so I could have spent more time with her. 

What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?

Life is a party at times! In my profession it’s a lot of hard work, you have to be dedicated and disciplined. Some of the showbiz parties have been amazing and forgettable!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given? 

A few years after leaving drama school, whenever I used to feel deflated my dear friend, Brett Kahr, who wrote songs for me, always used to say to me “Enjoy the journey.” I never used to know what he meant. Now I do.

Who is your LGBT hero and why?

Tom Daley, not just because he’s cute, but actually as a young respected gay man in the world of sport he has an international public profile and the power to help make a difference.

Who are the most entertaining people you follow on social media? 

I wouldn’t say entertaining for the right reasons. This past year I seem to have had several disagreements with an un-strong and unstable lady who lives at number 10. I have never been more vocal on Twitter especially with the minority party who are making a mess of our country. And God help us when Brexit hits. 

Where in the world would you like to visit before you die? 

Through performing I have visited so many wonderful places, from Cape Town and Kuala Lumpur to Chicago, Sweden and Cockermouth. I have a craving to visit Iceland. Not the shop.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Not to worry about things as much. We are all different, we all have something special and unique to offer to one another in life’s rich tapestry. Live, laugh and love. Oh and the use of sugaring when having your back waxed.

Sister Mary’s Eurovision Playtime Special is on Wednesday 9 May from 8pm at The RVT, 372 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, SE11 5HY.

Tim’s also in Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods at The Cockpit Theatre from 23 May until 24 June, and his show Mountains is Live at Zedel on 6 July.

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