Mods Of Your Generation – Interview – British Actor – “The Original Daddy” & “King Of The Rockers” – John Blundell
MODS OF YOUR GENERATION·SATURDAY, 14 DECEMBER 2019John Blundell is a Britishactor, best known for playing ‘Daddy’ Pongo Banks in the controversial production Scum and its film adaptation.Blundell played Banks in both the banned 1977 BBC version and the cinematic remake of the production two years later. His character was the ‘daddy’ (i.e., the self-appointed head inmate via use of force, violence and intimidation) of the institution until he was overthrown in a bloody attack by Carlin, the lead character played by Ray Winstone. He also appeared in Quadrophenia as the Leader of the Rockers (again in a film with Ray Winstone). He is an absolute gentleman, Mods Of Your Generation wanted to find out more about his role in these two iconic films. Its a privilege to call him a friend and an honour to have him as a Mods Of your Generation follower.
What fond memories and amusing stories can you remember from the filming of Quadrophenia?
I spent three weeks in Brighton on the set. One of my fondest memories is that the whole cast stayed in the same hotel, and you could come down in the morning for breakfast, and hear the then unknown Sting, playing the piano, and Phil Daniels playing guitar, along with Toyah jamming, and at that time , being so young, just taking it all for granted.
Did you enjoy working with Phil Daniels and Ray Winston again after filming with them in Scum?
Ray, Phil and I had filmed the original Scum, 4 years earlier, which was a Play for Today for the BBC, and banned by Billy Cotton. We then went on to make the film SCUM, 6 weeks after QUADROPHENIA. In those days, we all hung about together, and all got on really well.
You played Pongo Banks in Scum & the leader of the rockers in Quadrophenia they have both become British cult classics. How does it feel to be part of these timeless iconic movies?
I have been very lucky and privileged to be part of both Scum and Quadrophenia. Obviously not knowing that up to date, they would have stood the test of time, and become iconic films.
How did you get into acting and was that something you always wanted to do growing up?
It was never my intention to become an Actor. However at 10 years old, my primary school drama teacher Anna Scher, started the Anna Scher Children’s Theatre, of which I was a Founder member, for Children who could not afford Stage School like Barbara Speake’s, Italia Conti etc. , charging us 50 pence a lesson, and free for the Children, who could not afford that. When word went around the film industry, that there was a Drama Club in Islington. The BBC came around along with the Children’s Film Foundation, to name but a few. So that is where it all began and took off.
What can you recall working with Quadrophenia director Franc Roddam?
Franc Roddam the Director of Quadrophenia, came to Ann Scher, to watch our group performing improvisation, on a class night. And that is where he saw Phil Daniels, Trevor Laird and myself. A few weeks later, Franc asked me and Actor Ray Burdis, to meet him at Pinewood Studios, to do some improvisation with a guy that he has found from a modelling advertisement, called Gordon Sumner. Afterwards Franc, asked us about our opinion about this guy, as he thought he would be great for the part of Ace Face. We said he looked unusual m. Little did we know that we had talked ourselves out of a part. A few later, this guy called Sting would hit no. 1, with his group the Police, and become a global Superstar. The rest was history.
I heard from a mutual friend that they were a few accidents riding the motorbikes in Quadrophenia. Can you tell me about some of the stories?
There was one big accident, involving myself and the rest of the Rockers, in the scene where we chased Chalky off the road. After the film crew cleared the lane, where we were filming, a farmer pulled out his lorry out onto the road, unbeknown to the film crew. So at 35 miles an hour, Gareth Milne, the Stunt man, who was to my far left, rode straight into the truck at full speed, which caused a domino effect, of all 30 Bikers crashing.I myself drove into a big bush, to protect myself and my Biker girl Linda Regan, who was riding pillion. Leaving the both of us with only sprains, but other with much more serious injuries. Hence Linda up till this day, still tells everyone that I saved her life, which is a really lovely thing to say. Franc to this day, still says he wishes he had kept the footage of the crash.
Where you a fan of The Who and had you listened to Quadrophenia before being cast in the movie of the same name?
I was not really a Fan of the Who, at that point, but after meeting Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend, I found them to be, down to earth and just a couple of the lads, who just happened to fly into Brighton beach by helicopter. Lol.
Apologises if this ruins your hard man reputation as the “King of The Rockers” and the original daddy but I heard you’re a northern soul fan. If this is true tell me about some of your favourite records and some of your other musical tastes?
Yes that’s right I do enjoy Northern Soul, for eg. listening to Legendary artists like Frank Wilson – Yvonne Baker- Tobi Legend. My taste is pretty varied, and I also like a lot of Rap Music. Snoop Dog, Dr Dre era. Giving away my age there.
What other acting roles have you been involved in that fans may not be aware of?
From my early years aged 10 I had done so much work, I cannot remember, as i never kept track. The only ones I can remember are on my IMDB. I also do so many Commercials that at one time, my Agent Anna Scher named me ‘’The Commercial King’’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgRnNx7J1mQ&feature=youtu.be
2019 marked the 40th anniversary of Quadrophenia, you were invited to join the celebrations at an event in Runcorn. How was it reuniting with some of the cast 40 years on and what was fans attending the events response to meeting the king of the rockers?
I have always over the years, bumped into the Quadrophenia boys, who attended Runcorn. And it is always as if we had only seen each other yesterday.As I was the only Rocker, at Runcorn, I was not sure, how I would be welcome by the Mods. But to my surprise, I was blown away by the love and respect, that was shown to me , by everyone who attended. I could not have asked for more. I would like to say a special thank you to Rob Wright, who organised the event, and took such good care of me and Mercina. We had not met before, but we are now friends.
What are your plans for the future and are you working on anything we can look forward to?
I enjoy writing Comedy scripts, simply as a hobby. But the best thing about being retired, is as you all know by now, for anyone who has read my Facebook page, is that I get to spend 24/7, with the love of my life Mercina.