The former Lord Varys on Antony Gormley, Strictly, and his lifelong literary companion, Stephen King

Born in 1964 in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, Conleth Hill graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1988. He made his Broadway debut in Marie JonessStones in His Pockets,which earned him a Tony nomination and an Olivier best actor award in 2001. Between 2011 and 2019 Hill played Lord Varys in Game of Thrones, and he recently appeared as former Observer editor Roger Alton in Official Secrets and BBC drama Dublin Murders. He currently stars in Annie BakersThe Antipodes, at the National Theatre until 23 November.

1. Memoir

Face It by Debbie Harry

Her bravery and strength are obvious Debbie Harry. Photograph: Michael Brennan/Getty Images

A personal, unusually candid memoir from one of the coolest human beings in the world a world that has changed so much since she came along. Its a brilliant account of the changing music industry which she has spent six decades working in, the changing city (New York), jobs, bands, and the woman herself. Her bravery and strength are obvious, so too her talent as a performer, singer and lyricist. But her fight for the rights of others, her kindness and her inquisitiveness come shining through too. I love her, and this autobiography, and it seems we could have another volume of her poignant prose to come.

2. Place

Battersea Park

An aerial view of Londons Battersea Park. Photograph: PhotoLondonUK/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Maybe its because Im not a Londoner… but I think a huge benefit to living there for any length of time is the proximity of the stunning parks, heaths and commons. For the last few years the nearest to my digs has been Battersea Park. It has so much to offer: football pitches, walking and running paths, tropical and English gardens, boating lakes, fountains, the pagoda. Not to mention sitting on a bench donated by fellow park-lovers eating a piece of lemon and lime rum cake from the nearby Caribbean stall in the Duke of York Square market.

3. Boxset


Emily Watson in Chernobyl. Photograph: Sky Atlantic

I was not able to see this brilliant five-part series when it was first on telly, and so many people had recommended it, so I was glad to see the DVD come along. I remember the fear at the time 1986, I was a second year at drama school but to see how and why it happened, how close so many more of us came to disaster, and how the authorities tried to suppress the truth was disturbing. The brilliant Jared Harris leads an outstanding cast. I recommend it highly to anyone who hasnt managed to see it.

4. Art

Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy

Antony Gormley poses with his installation Matrix III. Photograph: John Rainford/Getty Images

In 2007 I was in Conor McPhersons The Seafarer at the National Theatre, and Antony Gormleys men were all over the buildings on the South Bank. Initially I thought people were jumping, but I grew to love those solitary installations. The Royal Academy exhibition was a brilliant experience. His love and analytical study of the human form is reminiscent of da Vinci, but theres so much more: Matrix III is a low-lying, gravity-defying cloud of 98% recycled steel mesh, Cave is an exploration into the dark and light of almost architectural shapes, and the installation Host is a thing of outstanding beauty.

5. Novel

The Institute, Stephen King

A master storyteller Stephen King. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP

Mr King published his first novel, Carrie in 1974; I read it when a classmate lent it to me in 1976, my first year at grammar school. I am really happy that he has been a constant literary companion since. (Mr King, not the classmate.) He has overcome his own demons and disasters and keeps on keeping on. I still look forward as much as I ever did to each new novel or short story collection. He is a master storyteller and The Institute is another winner. Its about gifted youngsters and their institutionalisation and exploitation and those who exploit them. Its familiar King territory and all the better for it.

6. TV

Strictly Come Dancing

Aljaz Skorjanec and Viscountess Emma Weymouth in Strictly Come Dancing. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA

I have nothing but admiration for anyone involved in the production of this show, and its sister show It Takes Two. Even though I find some of the taped pieces between the dances and judging cringeworthy it wont be long before another is shown that inspires me. In these days of watch-when-you-want its great to think that millions of people in all kinds of different families are experiencing simultaneous emotions while watching that amazing dancing and listening to that brilliant live music. And they do it after a weeks or less rehearsal. Saturday night certainty (when not working).



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