You've retired from showbusiness
now. How do you view the industry as it is today, now that you're back
to being a member of the audience?
"As I'm not in the industry today, I'm not really in a position to
make comments, but what my wife Jaki and I are really impressed about
at the moment is the standard of acting on British television. I think
it's got to be the highest standard in the world. Even small parts in
things are so beautifully done that I just sit back with admiration.
Total admiration because they're all so bloody good. And I'm delighted
to see that."
Do you find it disappointing that so much television is lost or
missing today from the era when you were most prolific in the medium?
"I think it's a shame but there are bigger things in life than losing
bits of television series. You have to question the mentality, of
course, of whoever it was who said they needed the space, or that that
programmes didn't need to be kept. So many great programmes were just
wiped. Heads needed looking at, really. Not for my stuff in
particular, of course, but for the business as a whole. So many people
like to watch old movies, after all. I think it's a great shame. It's
almost like saying that this Rolling Stones record has been out for a
while, so let's get rid of it and we'll stick out something new
instead. It's the same sort of principle really people didn't just
wipe famous music recordings. So
why? That's not a personal thing,
it's just a general view of how the business operated in those days."
Looking back on your career, what would you pick out as the
highlights, the roles that meant the most to you?
"Obviously, I liked Doomwatch for what it did, and I enjoyed working
on The Spies and The Mask of Janus. Many other things, too. But my
favourite was definitely the stage show, Privates on Parade. That was
beautiful. I played Captain Terri Dennis and I absolutely, totally,
totally loved it. I would say that if I wanted to be remembered for
anything, that'd be it. Yeah. That was me."
"But I've been so, so lucky.
I've not had any disasters. I don't accept The Avengers as a
personal disaster because as I say, it could have been avoided. I was
stuck in the middle of it, but you can only do your best and try to
pull it out of the mire. Had we have had more time, it wouldn't have
gone into the mire in the first place, but there you go. It was like
being the Captain of the Titanic. You can arrange the deck chairs as
best you can, but it doesn't make much difference when you're
"No, I've had a life to die for.
I've had ups and downs personally, just like anyone, but I couldn't
have asked for a more satisfying life than the one I've had in
theatre, television and film. I've been so lucky and I'm so grateful
to have had the opportunity."
At the time of this interview in
November 2008, Simon was undergoing treatment for a long-term serious
Simon succumbed to cancer a mere six months later, on Wednesday
20th May 2009. Alys and I were
devastated to hear the news Simon was a delightful, witty and above
all, generous and kind man, and the world is worse off by far without him. Our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Jaki and their family and
many friends. The day we spent with them both was a highlight of our year
and we will remember that day and Simon and Jaki with great fondness
and admiration for many years to come.
Click Here To Read A Tribute
to Simon Oates (1932-2009)
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and Alys Hayes, 2009