Hard working pupil, Matthew Cartwright, was often on the receiving end of Gripper Stebson’s bullying. Nicholas Pandolfi played Matthew for two series from 1981-1982. He kindly took time out from his busy schedule to tell us about his time as Matthew.
How did you get into acting?
I wanted to be an Actor from a very young age and attended Corona stage school from the age of 11: it was here that with school work in the morning and drama studies in the afternoon, we would be put up for Auditions. From roles in the Elephant Man to a McDonalds ad, work for me was plentiful and I had a truly great time .
How did you get your part in Grange Hill?
It was whilst at Corona that the Audition came up for Grange Hill , Peter Moran (Pogo Patterson) was a friend at school and told me what to expect from the interview . For the year I joined the show they interview around 800 kids for the new intake.
Were you nervous about joining such a popular show?
I was not nervous about joining the show but very excited as I was a huge fan and when I met Todd (Tucker) for the first time I was a bit in awe.
What did you think of Matthew Cartwright, the character you played, and the storylines he had?
Matthew was hard for me as I tend to be a clown and he was so very straight and a bit dull. His storylines were a lot of doing other peoples homework which was as far from me as you could get. I worked a lot with Mark Savage (Gripper Stebson) and he was my best friend on set. I met up with him recently and he is, in my view, the best actor in our years in the show.
Do you think your character could have been taken any further?
Matthew went as far as the script writers took him. All fiction can go further with the intent and will.
What lead to you leaving Grange Hill?
I was under 18 and under law you can only work so many days in one year as a child actor (to protect you). I decided to test my luck outside TV Centre and I’m glad I did. I missed the friends on the show but wanted to do other work.
Was it an enjoyable show to work on?
Grange Hill was a great time ; playing off set in the Blue Peter garden and walking around TV centre, watching Duran Duran record Top of the Pops and all that.
Have you watched any of your Grange Hill episodes recently?
I have not watched much of my time in the show recently but clips pop up when you watch TV and that’s fun. I guess a plumber doesn’t revisit much of his old work? Maybe in my dotage I may.
Matthew I think is working for the inland revenue playing the hard man and getting his own back on Gripper!
What have you done since leaving Grange Hill?
Since leaving , a couple of spells in the West End, The Bill, Holby City , radio presentation , RSC , voiceovers , a spell in the US acting …. and loads more over the years but the above gives you a feel .
Do you ever get recognised or remembered for being in Grange Hill?
I still get puzzled looks from those that think they know me from school and yes people say Matthew …………and smile. One woman before Christmas in BOOTS said she had a crush on me …that helped the ego!
Has Grange Hill been a help or a hindrance to your career?
Grange Hill was and remains a help to me. It does not get me a job but it has opened doors.
How do you look back on your time at Grange Hill?
I remember my time on the show with pride and recall the laughs I had with Brian Capron (Mr Hopwood). I spoke to him the other day and he said as an adult what a great gang we were.
Interview © 2005 – Grange Hill Gold – Not to be reproduced without permission.
Thanks to Nicholas Pandolfi.