Wednesday, June 2, 2010

7 Questions: Gary Dobbs aka Jack Martin

Interview by David Cranmer

I picture you hanging out with beautiful actresses all day. True?

Gary Dobbs
Well it's partly true - I've worked with Keira Knightly but she's a little too thin for my tastes and the feeling's mutual because can you believe she didn't fancy me at all. I've also stood within two feet of Cameron Diaz and she's gorgeous but actresses are shallow and would much prefer the hunky leading man, to this skinny Welsh guy with a big nose. Over the years I worked with some of the leading actors and actresses but they don't notice poor old me - I'm just someone walking through the scene as a bystander, builder, milkman, zombie etc but it's all great fun. I do have ambitions to become a sex symbol but I guess that's just a pipe dream. Mind you I have been told that I look a bit like David Bowie so when skinny blond dudes become the fashion I'm gonna break some hearts.

Did Ricky Gervais's EXTRAS accurately sum up that underappreciated profession?

Some of it is spot on and extras are often overlooked or worse ignored. Of course they're not called extras anymore because the term is considered derogatory - these days they are supporting artists, but it's the same old shit. Scenes in Ricky Gervais extras that I thought are very true to life - are the pecking order at dinner time, artists go first, then the crew and then the extras but most of the Gervais stuff is exaggerated. But I think all supporting artists do have secret ambitions to make it as proper actors and why not? I've seen actors who are utter crap and I know that most of the supporting cast could do better. But at the same time there are some superb actors and all we can do is stand in awe and watch them create magic.

Maybe the funniest story I have of being an extra is when we were standing around on the set of Doctor Who and there was a DALEK next to me. All of a sudden the guy in the DALEK lost control of the eye stalk and it whipped me across the face. A voice came from the DALEK - "Sorry Mate." That made me smile despite the pain.

You're also a cabbie. What has been your most unusual or worst experience?

Well there's never a dull moment that's for sure - I've owned my cab for maybe ten years now and during that time I've gone from working every hour in the day to a thirty to forty hour week. The weekends are the crazy times. I work the graveyard shift largely because that's where the money is. It's also when the nuts are out - over the years I've had my nose broken, been robbed (twice), had a guy die in my car and pretty much seen just about everything. There have been many great times too, mind - you pick up some interesting people and have some wild experiences but I don't really want to dwell on all that. These days I only work to supplement my income and thankfully I can pretty much take it or leave it. Still there's something appealing about driving a group of half dressed young ladies about on a weekend.

What did he die from and how did you handle that?

He was a regular customer, an old guy and he had a heart attack. I thought he'd nodded off as he did that from time to time but when I stopped outside his house and tried to wake him I found he'd passed on. How did I handle it? Well it shook me up at first but other than that I was fine.

Why does The Ripper continue to captivate?

From The Illustrated London News, 13 October 1888
The mystery of the whole thing. When researching my novel, A Policeman's Lot I visited what remains of the murder sites and was amazed to find how many people were doing likewise. There are organised Ripper tours and some people have built their entire careers on the case. Somewhere amongst all this we seem to have forgotten that these were brutal and cruel crimes in which young women lost their lives - there are Ripper films, comics, book, even Ripper action figures.

I have always been fascinated by the case - I do not swallow the official line that there were only five killings, nor do I believe there was a Jack the Ripper as such. My meaning here is one man, a maniac, stalking the streets in search of prey. That was largely an invention of the press at the time. These were in a sense the first tabloid killings and the Ripper, over the years, has entered folklore.

In A Policeman's Lot the reader knows early on who the killer is but not the reason why, nor what the connection to the Ripper killings are. I am very excited about this - the book really does have a truly new and unique theory as to what was happening back in 1888 and although this is a work of fiction, I do believe that it brings something new to Ripper lore and could open a new avenue of investigation. I repeat I am very excited about the book's potential and am over the moon with my publisher Solstice who are fully behind the project and are very forward looking. I plan to continue the adventures of Inspector Frank Parade over a series of novels but when he solves the Ripper mystery in the very first book - well, where do you go from there?

You have been a success in westerns and now are taking a stab at crime fiction. What's next?

I've just completed another western, The Ballad of Delta Rose and I'd like to alternate between each genre, but saying that I've ideas for future projects that are in neither genre. Mind you I'll never go too far from westerns as it's my first love and even A Policeman's Lot with the inclusion of Buffalo Bill and his circus has elements of the western. Well, in the words of the song, my heroes have always been cowboys.

USA or UK?

I'm a spiritual American but England's first game in the upcoming World Cup (which is huge over here, football being more important than life) is against the USA. So I'll be shouting - "Come on England." Mind you I love all you guys across the pond too.


  1. Fun interview. Thanks for sharing. The cab gig sounds like story material.

  2. Great interview, Gary seems like a great guy to share a pint or two with. Keira is really too thin for my tastes as well; I just wish she'd quit saving herself for me and go live a little.

    As for that big match in just a few days, I'll be shouting "Come on USA!" I'll still love you Englanders afterwards, though. Unless you win, of course.

  3. Thanks guys - The US has a decent football team, or is it soccer, but England will do the business on the day - I hope so anyway. I'd love to see America do well though.

  4. Gary, I really enjoyed this interview. Cameron Diaz and Kierra Knightly huh? You're a STAR!! Well you are in my book anyway. And yes you do look a lot like David Bowie! As far as the world cup goes??? USA all the way! Beckham in my hero!

    Best Wishes with the release, Gary.

    Kelly Abell

  5. I love a polite Dalek! Terrific interview fellars!

  6. David Bowie? Ha - the very thin White Duke....
    Good interview though, mate. Gonna give up the taxi-biz soon then? How are we going to get around all the bus lanes in Cardiff when we're filming without you and your black cab?
    BTW: I was on that Keira Knightley gig too; she reminded me of one of those bobble head things - all head and small body. Whereas Charlotte Rampling playing her aunt - despite being in her 60s - was still gorgeous.
    And Scarlet Johansson on 'The Other Boleyn Sister'... hubba hubba!
    And watch out for me in ep 12 of the latest Dr Who series when I um.. inspect the latest Dalek! Scared the life out of me! Thought it was just a prop!

  7. Super interview guys, some really funny stuff. And good luck and best wishes with the new book Gary.

  8. Bobblehead doll. Ha. Too funny.

    Glad to hear Scarlett, in person, is all that.

  9. I's most definately go with John on the Bobblehead thingie - even more so with the wigs she had to wear on that production - she seemed about ten feet tall.

  10. Keira Knightly scares me. Someday she will just disappear altogether.

  11. Another great interview David. I follow Gary's blog and wish him luck with his new book. Thanks....and come on England! (Although I have American relatives, so good luck America...hahahahaha) :-)

  12. Good stuff, you two. I'm going to be conflicted watching that World Cup match too, Gary. Since the US always wimps out early, England is my World Cup team.

  13. Know what you mean Evan - still the US team surprised me last time. England gets my sopport but the US are my second choice.