The Street: Bob Hoskins plays Paddy

In the first episode of The Street, Bob Hoskins plays Paddy, a principled, salt-of-the-earth publican who takes a brave stand against the local gang boss, Miller (Liam Cunningham).

When Miller tries to intimidate Paddy and his wife Lizzie (Frances Barber) into rescinding the ban on his son Calum for smoking in his pub, the landlord refuses to back down. A bloody confrontation looms…

The actor, a major movie star who has headlined in such memorable feature films as Mona Lisa, The Long Good Friday, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Brazil, The Cotton Club, Nixon and Last Orders, was lured back to television by two words: Jimmy and McGovern.

“Jimmy’s just a brilliant writer,” enthuses Bob, who has previously starred in TV dramas such as Pennies From Heaven, Rock Follies and On The Move.

“I love what he does with a script. The whole concept behind this episode is fantastic. It’s Jimmy’s version of High Noon!

“I very rarely watch telly – it’s like having a plumber round and showing him your pipes. What I love about Jimmy’s writing is that it’s so honest. There’s no dressing to it.”

Bob outlines Paddy’s traits: “He’s a very ordinary bloke. He’s a Londoner who met Lizzie and moved to Manchester with her. He changed his life to be with her. They have run the pub for 20 years. He’s a simple man – she’s the boss and the brains. She does the book-keeping and knows how everything works.”

Paddy comes into his own when he bravely defies Miller, though.

“He’s not a tough guy or a hard nut, but he takes a courageous stand against Miller. The point is he’s already banned one kid for smoking. If he lets Calum off, he’ll be in line for a five grand fine – stuff that!

“More importantly, if he caved in to Miller’s threats, Paddy would lose the respect he’s gained over 20 years. He keeps the pub in good order. All types of people drink there – everyone from footballers to OAPs. It’s a community pub and that’s very important to Paddy. But if he bowed down to Miller, he’d lose everything.”

But Paddy has chosen to take on a ferocious opponent.

“Miller is a very heavy man, the main drug dealer in the area, Bob continues. “You wouldn’t want to cross him. He can’t back down because his living is hurting people. It’s all about ‘face’ and not being seen to back down. As you can see, Paddy is in a very difficult and dangerous position.”

Bob relished making The Street. The only scene Bob found hard to shoot was Paddy’s fight with Miller.

“You could say I’ve done a few fight scenes in my time,” he laughs, “but this one was quite tough. I wound up doing my own stunts because, when the stunt man turned up, he was six foot six! Then the director said he wanted it really violent. I know how to act – it’s getting bashed up that’s not such fun!”

Bob concludes by underscoring how much he enjoyed working with Frances Barber, who plays Paddy’s wife, Lizzie.

“We’ve known each other for ages through a mutual friend, Derek Jacobi, who used to be my next-door neighbour. Frances and I have wanted to work together for years, and now we finally have the opportunity.

“It’s been terrific. We slipped into it at once – our relationship was there immediately. We were like an old married couple – ‘I’ll take the right side of the bed, you take the left!'”

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