Original cast member Jason Done talks to What’s on TV about leaving Waterloo Road with a bang (BBC1, Thursday) after seven years in the classroom…
Next week Tom’s time at the school comes to a dramatic end. How much can you reveal about his jaw-dropping exit?
“I can’t say too much, but Tom’s leaving comes out of the blue. And he goes out with a bang – not a fizzle! After I made the very tough decision to leave Waterloo Road I was very flattered when the writers said they wanted to give Tom a send off that was fitting to his character and do right by the fans.”
We know Kyle Stack (George Sampson) is involved. How does Tom react when he returns unexpectedly to the school?
“Tom doesn’t exactly welcome him with open arms, as Kyle shot his son Josh with a crossbow! Tom likes to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but in Kyle Stack’s case he’s cynical about his reasons for returning and doubtful whether he’s changed his spots after his time in prison.”
It’s been seven years of rollercoaster ups and downs for Tom. What have been your personal highlights?
“I don’t know whether this is a highlight or not, but my favourite – which will go with me to the grave – was the scene where Tom finds out Josh’s mother artificially inseminated herself with his sperm after a fling years before. It ends with Tom saying the classic line: ‘Your mother stole my sperm!’
“Another classic moment for me was myself and Jill Halfpenny dressed up as giant vegetables. Jill was a giant carrot and I was an oversized red chilli pepper. I was livid at the time and got into a right huff about it!
“My absolute favourite episode, however, was Sambuca’s death, with Holly Kenny. I thought it was a beautiful piece of work. It was so moving and well crafted. We had laughing one moment and floods of tears the next. It was a really nice piece of drama and has really stuck with me as an episode I’m proud of.”
What do you most miss about being on Waterloo Road?
”The people. We had a fantastic cast and crew in both Rochdale and Scotland. Philip Martin Brown, who plays Grantly, is my best pal from the show. We worked together from the beginning and were the last men standing.”
Did you take any mementos before you left?
“Yes – but I didn’t steal anything! The prop department kindly gave me the nameplate off Tom’s door and his Shakespeare’s head with the broken nose and little whip around its neck. I also got lots of lovely cards, gifts and good wishes. I had really mixed emotions on my last day. I’ve never done a job for so long so it feels pretty much like leaving school and going back into the big, bad world.”
What was behind your decision to leave?
“It’s been a really difficult decision. Over the last seven years I’ve done over 130 episodes, and it has been hard to walk away from that. I’ve really enjoyed being part of the show, but there comes a point where you think, creatively we’ve reached the end of the road for Tom. We’ve been through the mill together!
I’d like to think I’ve never rested on my laurels or been lazy with him. Variety and different challenges appeal to me. It’s time to get out there and take risks. Hopefully it will pay off in the future, but it’s tinged with actors’ paranoia that I’ll never work again!”
What’s in the pipeline for you in terms of future projects?
“I’ve done some radio plays and I’ve got a film at the end of the year called Cold Mile House. I’m also working with poet and writer Simon Armitage and Christopher Eccleston on a dramatisation of Homer’s The Iliad for the Royal Exchange next year. So from one extreme to the other!”