27 September 2023

Forever Horatio: An Actor’s Life

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Edmund Pegge, Wakefield Press, $39.95.

Recognised as an actor of great skill and versatility, Pegge has had a rewarding life on stage and screen. He has had a prolific career in supporting roles in both Australia and the UK.

He says the ‘spur’ for writing these memoirs came from finding all the letters he had written to his mother, from 1960 to the 1902. Pegge admits to being curious about why he always wanted to be an actor.

He believes ‘place’ has a strong influence on one’s upbringing. “I’m sure the historical surroundings in which I grew up fired my imagination. I wanted to be an actor from the age of 10.”

“The Horatio in the title, a part I played twice, refers to Hamlet’s friend in the great play. I was destined to be a supporting actor.” His acting credits include Division 4, Matlock Police, Doctor Who, The Day of the Triffids, The Winds of War, Anzacs, Howards’ Way, Rosemary & Thyme and Home Sweet Home.

This affable and candid book tells the story of a man who has lived and loved, considerately, who has given life his best shot and has lived through some astonishing experiences.

Travelling between England and Australia and working on stage, in film and on television for over 50 years, Pegge ‘knows all the tricks and all the trials of a working actor’s life’. He ‘regales us with tales of the good times that intersperse the actor’s lean spells’.

Pegge lays out an unpretentious account of the interesting people and places he’s been lucky to experience. Dame Judi Dench has a touching acknowledgement in the foreword:

“More than most actors, he knows the importance of being in the right place at the right time, and that getting the right part is often a matter of luck. He has had his ups and downs, but always manages to reinvent himself, even if it has not always been doing his first love – acting. He has worked with the best, and has some fascinating tales to tell.”

“Ed’s self-effacing title for his book, Forever Horatio, implies that he has always been a supporting actor. That may be so but he has managed to leave his mark both in the UK and Australia. Anyway, where would the rest of us be without him?”

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