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Me and my London: Clint Dyer

The pioneering Clint Dyer must be one of the hardest working men in show business. Actor, writer, director – there's little the man can't do. As new play Death of England hits the National, Dyer takes us into his world

Clint Dyer is both a polymath and a trailblazer. 

In 2005, Dyer became the first black British artist to direct a West End musical with the Olivier-nominated The Big Life. 

Now Death of England, a one-man play starring Rafe Spall that Dyer co-wrote and directs, will make Dyer the first black British artist to have acted in, directed and written a production for the National Theatre.   

Seriously impressive stuff for a man who came to writing relatively late, after a successful acting career. 

Despite a packed schedule – you'll see – Dyer found the time to let us into his life and his London. 

Me

What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about?

My new show, Death of England which opens at the National Theatre from 31st January as well as the TV series that I am writing with Goldie loosely based on his life.

My big dream though, is to finally get ‘The Happy Tragedy of Being Woke’ onto the stage. This piece is being produced with Complicité theatre company and as well as it being written by myself, I will co-direct it with maverick director Simon McBurney.

And going back to the big screen, I am also working on a film script with BBC films.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment (s)?

Making SUS (2010), a film about institutional racism in the police. It starred Rafe Spall, Ralph Brown and myself. It travelled to America, got a great reaction and I was honoured to receive three acting awards for my performance. BBC One also bought the film, and it screened several times, amassing large viewership numbers.

I also directed The Big Life (2004), a musical about the Windrush generation which transferred to the West End, making it the first black British musical to play there, and myself being the first black British man to direct in the West End too.

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

Having to deal with bias. I also wish I had taken my desire to write more seriously when I was younger. It took too long for me believe I could to it regardless of the lack of role models.

What do you hope to achieve that you haven’t yet?

Write and direct a feature film and be in a Spike Lee film.

Outside of your family, who is / was your biggest inspiration?

Philip Hedley, the former artistic director of Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Tell us something nobody knows about you…

I wish I was a musician. To be able to perfect your art form whenever you want is a wonderful thing.

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My London

What do you love most about London?

It’s access to every art from and from so many different cultures. Also, that London has such great theatre. It is unparalleled across the world.

What would you change about London?

The lack of affordable housing. The homeless crisis is very real and very depressing.

What is your favourite London pub / bar?

Don’t have one anymore as I drink so little now... but I can be found in Groucho's quite often.

What is your favourite London restaurant?

It has to be Cora Pearl in Covent Garden.

Where would you take someone on a London date?

Curzon Soho.... it’s been my favourite cinema in London for years.

If you’re visiting London, what’s the one thing you MUST do?

Check out some local theatre. The acting and writing in London is at such a high standard there is always something brilliant out there to enjoy.

Death of England starring Rafe Spall opens from the National Theatre from January 31st and runs until the end of March 2020.

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