It’s been nearly a year since comedian Richard Blackwood joined EastEnders as Vincent Hubbard and he’s arguably been one of the BBC One soap’s most pivotal characters in the last 12 months.
So it’s no surprise that Richard, 43, has nabbed himself a National Television Award nomination for Best Newcomer next week. Speaking exclusively to Yahoo Celebrity, he admits: “I’m over the moon. I’m very lucky. I’m happy to be working on a show like this, so to be nominated for an award of this size … I’m through the roof.” Aww!
We spoke to Richard about his big nomination, how Vincent will deal with Fatboy’s death over Christmas and whether Vincent’s relationship with his mother Claudette—who seems to be concealing the truth about his father’s death—will take a dark turn.
How did you find out about the NTA nomination?
I was at work when I found out I was shortlisted. We were on set and Tameka [Empson] and a few other people came up to me and said congratulations. This is all new to me. When I was walking past people, they were saying good luck and stuff.
Do you see the nod as validation of how well you’ve fitted into the soap coming from a comedy background?
Without sounding arrogant, I definitely feel that people who know of my work prior to EastEnders, especially the stand-up, they could appreciate and see the difference of me playing this character as opposed to who I am naturally.
When people criticise actors people say, ‘That person’s just playing themselves.’ You hear that all the time.
The audience that knows me from before, they’ll say that Vincent is nothing like Richard. I’m quite animated and got a million and one things to say, whereas Vincent is a man of few words and quite stern.
If I’ve been able to convey this character to the point where I’ve been nominated, yeah, that’s definitely validation.
Maddy Hill, who plays Nancy Carter, won Best Newcomer last year. Does that put pressure on you to keep the streak going?
Yes! EastEnders did so well at the last NTAs. That was when I actually joined, and I was sitting with the cast in the same row as Maddy when she won. I remember her face when she won and I was like, ‘Wow, this is so real.’ She was blown away by it.
Then a year later, it’s like, wow, now it’s me. Just like that it happened as well.
I’m nervous about that. But I’ve also come to terms with whatever happens, whether I win or lose.
How will you celebrate if you do win?
That’s a good question. I actually don’t know. I don’t drink really. But we’ll all be there together, the whole cast, and they always have a little after party. If I win I’ll be in good company.
Have you been keeping an eye on the competition—Gemma Atkinson (Emmerdale), Parry Glasspool (Hollyoaks) and Shayne Ward (Corrie)?
Yes, I have been keeping an eye on them. The irony for me is that I used to fancy Gemma! I feel privileged to be in the same category.
I know they’re all really good at what they do. I haven’t just watched them because I now realise I’m in the same category as them, I’ve watched them prior to that. I admire their work. I believe I’m in a worthy category. It’ll be tough.
So we finally know who died over Christmas—Fatboy (Ricky Norwood)—how has the reaction from the public to that been like for you?
It’s been amazing. I’ve been told off … even the other day somebody came up to me and said, ‘It’s out of order what you did to Fatboy!’ I said it wasn’t me and they were like, ‘You were involved! It’s because of what you did!’ They were breaking it down for me. I was like, ‘I’m really sorry.’
I was abroad when it was actually on but Twitter was going crazy. I knew it was really monumental and I’m glad the audience responded in the way they did. They genuinely miss Fatboy and they were genuinely upset with myself and Sam [Womack, who plays Ronnie Mitchell] for our involvement—so that means we played it properly.
How difficult was it to keep Fatboy’s death a secret?
Your family is the first to come up to you and be like, ‘We’re family, there’s no problem here, tell us.’ And it’s like, ‘Why are you so eager to know?’ and they say, ‘I’m your mum, I should know!’ That’s not part of mum duty, you just need to know I’m doing well in life. But my mum likes to push the boundaries, ‘I’m your mum, I should know first.’ That stops when I’m 18, I’m 43 now, you don’t need to know anything! It’s surreal.
Vincent must be dealing with a lot of guilt over Fatboy’s death. How will that play out in the show?
EastEnders don’t do anything half-a***ed. They’ve thought it through. It definitely will come back and haunt [Vincent], I can say that much … there’s no way that it wouldn’t. You just have to think of the lies he’s had to tell since then, he’s already feeling guilty as it is. Knowing EastEnders as I do, they won’t leave it like that.
Claudette is quite nagging and controlling of Vincent. I kind of liken it to Norman Bates and his mum in Psycho…
[Laughs] So therefore I will become schizophrenic and become half mum? If there’s a shower scene people should be worried… I like Psycho, it’s one of my favourite films.
What I would say is, you’re right, Claudette is the catalyst from which a lot of Vincent’s views and actions come from.
All I will say on that is you will definitely see how that plays out. EastEnders doesn’t leave any stone unturned—there will be some serious stuff kicking in there, the audience’s jaws are going to be open! The ‘doof doofs’ are going to be very loud.
Could Vincent go as far as killing Claudette?
That is a bit strong … let’s see what happens. Is Vincent a murderer? We don’t know.
You never know with EastEnders…
They might be listening [to us], they might try to write that in!
Richard Blackwood is nominated for Best Newcomer at the NTAs. To vote visit nationaltvawards.com/vote.
For more EXCLUSIVE NTAs content click here.