Nigel Billing on playing Company Sergeant Major Keeling
Nigel Billing is an actor born and raised in Cornwall, and best known for his roles as the Earl of Shrewsbury in Queens, Max Payne in Pain and Redemption, and numerous roles in the Rosamunde Pilcher TV movies.
We spoke to Nigel about his role in The Trench Bodmin:
“I feel very honoured to be playing Company Sergeant Major Keeling in The Trench at Bodmin.
Keeling was an interesting man, and was a socialist who didn't mind speaking his mind. He was fined £2, 6s for leaving his bicycle in Trinity Lane Cambridge and asked if there was an alternative to paying, to which the judge replied, "yes you can go to prison”. I like to think he did serve out the time rather than paying a silly fine.
He was also offered a commission but refused to shave off his beard, saying "If it's good enough for the King to wear a beard, then it's good enough for me!" - and so became an NCO."
(NB: Becoming a Non-Commissioned Officer would have meant less pay, and a longer, more difficult route climbing the ranks.)
Nigel has clearly found Keeling a fascinating subject to study as well as a character to play, however, we are fascinated by the strong resemblance between the two!
Nigel's final thoughts about performing as part of The Trench Bodmin:
"To be a part of this wonderful experience with so many great professional and non-professional actors has been the highlight of my year. I still cannot believe so many of our boys had to endure such hardships and danger over in France. It should never have happened, and we should never forget.”