PLAYING AS: His 85-year-old nan, Dorothy
What is your MOTIVATION FOR ENTERING THE CIRCLE? What is it about the game that made you want to apply? I’ve always been a fan of reality programmes. The Circle for me, as soon as I watched it, it was different from the rest. It’s all about character and personality and that’s right up my street. The money is amazing and if people ask me “are you in it to win it?” well of course, because it’s a game and the chance to win that money is motivation enough, it’s a life changing amount of money. But also, I love The Circle so just a chance to be on the programme is why I’m doing it.
Have you watched the show before and did that give you any tips on how to play the game? I have watched the show, I’ve actually just been re-watching series two because now I’m playing my nan, who’s obviously a lot older than me, I was looking at Tim’s journey and I wanted to see how he approached things, even the way he acted and spoke to other players, I wanted to zone in on him and get some tips, just to see how an older person would play the game in The Circle.
When they played the ‘Down Memory Lane Game’, I thought ‘Oh gosh if this was to come up when I’m in, my nan is 85 and was born in 1935!’ So I’ve so I’ve done lots of research - I’ve not done this much preparation in my life for anything.
I’ve been quizzing my nan a lot - we’ve been in contact nearly every day, I just want all the little details. It’s all well and good knowing the facts, when was World War 2 etc., but I want to know details – that’s what’s so important about being convincing and being popular and successful in the show.
What does she think about you going on the show and playing her? Oh she loves it. She loves reality TV - Big Brother, I’m A Celebrity, we have phone calls when they would go on ad breaks to compare thoughts – we were obsessed! So, as soon as I said I want to be you she was like ‘oh my god’. At first, she thought I was going in, dressed in a wig with a cardy pretending to be her and I was like ‘no it’s not that sort of show!’ But I explained what The Circle is and she’s thrilled.
Choosing the pictures of my nan was hard because photos of my nan were old fashioned Polaroid ones so I didn’t have a lot to choose from. I went around and did a little photoshoot with her, she was absolutely loving it! She had four outfit choices, she’s so trendy as well, that’s one of the things I think is amazing about her, as soon as you think 85-year-old woman, you think stereotypically, purple rinse, glasses, little zimmer frame but you know she’s so trendy and she’s so young at heart.
What is your STRATEGY to win the show? Are there any specific tactics that you think will help you win? I want to be The Circle nan. I want to be that person that everyone goes to for advice. I’m going to use her age as my secret weapon really, because when you’re in that environment you do miss your family. I know if I was going in there as myself and I saw an elderly woman who looks like my nan, I’d be drawn to her and want to keep her in because who doesn’t love a nan? Everybody loves a nan. She’s lived on this earth for 85 years so you would trust her and you would want to know about her.
Do you think you’re going to be convincing enough? I do, I think I’ve got enough knowledge and at the end of the day, she’s my nan, she’s also a real person, I’m not making a person up. I’ve got facts because she’s my nan and like I said, I’ve done so much work and so much research into her that I think that I’ll definitely be convincing enough. And something else that will help me is the fact that I’m actor I’m used to playing characters. Every time I have a role that I’m going to play I need to do the character research, I need to be convincing enough to portray this person so in a way playing a character in The Circle is no different from playing one on the stage.
Why did you decided to play as someone else? Initially I thought I would go in as myself, I’m an actor and I play lots of different parts, but then I thought I could use those skills to my advantage. I’m used to playing different characters so maybe this is my secret weapon.
Playing my nan, I just think she’ll be loved in there. I do think that they’ll really start to build a relationship and fall in love with The Circle nan. Who’s going to kick out little Dorothy Wilde!? No one will! So that’s my game plan.
Are you worried about any backlash you might get when you reveal that you are not the person you are saying you are? I did think about this, if I made the final and if there are people in The Circle or even in the outside world that are going to be annoyed that I’m playing a catfish but because she is a real person, she is my nan, I don’t think it’s going to be as dramatic.
If someone in the show was to form a really lovely relationship and we have conversations about meeting up on the outside world – that will still ultimately be possible as my nan is real. So I don’t think I’m worried in that respect, if I was playing a 6ft3 ASOS model with a six pack and I was catfishing in that way, people may not warm to that idea as much.
I’m playing a gorgeous little grandma who’s my nan, who’s the most amazing person - I don’t think people will be that annoyed.
How do you feel about being on TV? The theatre world and TV are not that different, I’ve performed on stage to thousands of people and if people have got an issue with me or they don’t like me, then that is completely their problem.
How much do you use social media in the real world? I use it quite a lot now. I never really did but since going into acting and musical theatre, there’s a lot of fans. People love theatre so I do use it quite a lot for that.
In real life how does your online social media self-differ to who you really are in person? I don’t think it does. I saw a post the other week and it said, “be as happy as you are in real life as you are on social media”. Maybe sometimes people do come across completely different to how they portray themselves on social media but the thing with me is I’ve got nothing to hide, I’m all here. I just portray myself as who I am and I’m happy with myself and in my body, I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. So I think I’m the same as I am on social media in real life - I’m just me and that’s it.
Who do you admire on social media? Who do you think uses it well? A good friend of mine, Carrie Hope Fletcher, is fantastic on social media. She’s an author, an actress and she uses her platform really well. She encourages body positivity, works with charities, helps educate people and does Instagram lives with advice on how to get into musical theatre. I really admire that.
Have you ever been catfished? Or caught a catfish? I’ve been catfished once in my life – it was about two or three years ago when I was on tour with a show. I started speaking to someone, he was a gorgeous firefighter from Wales and I thought he was too good to be true - it was going too well. He was going to fly over to Ireland, where I was at the time, to see me and then one day he was just gone.
We had been speaking for maybe over a month and had got to know each other but we never facetimed, and I thought maybe he was a bit shy but obviously not, those are absolute signs of a big fat catfish! There were little red flags and I just ignored them. So yes, it’s happened once but it’s never going to happen again because I now know the signs.
Do you think you'll be able to spot any catfish on the show? I think I will! I’ve always been a good judge of character, my mum’s really good at this as well so I think I got that from her and I can spot a good liar. I’ve also got a good memory so I hope that will play to my advantage in The Circle remembering what people have said.
Do you think what you say on The Circle matters or will you say anything if it would help you win? You’ve got to be careful about what you say, I’m playing my nan and I don’t want to upset my family or upset her if I say something untoward but ultimately it is a gameshow and I’m in it to win it.
My nan is fabulous, and she’s got all these amazing stories, but I want to add a little spice to her. My nan doesn’t drink but maybe I’ll say she has a little G&T here and there. I’m going to add little colours to my nan’s world, my personality fused with hers I think will create a fantastic catfish.
Do you ever use social media to flirt or look for love? Oh no I can’t, it’s not my thing! But also, there’s a lot of theatre fans on my social media so no, that’s not for me.
Has social media made it easier or more difficult for you to find romance? Do you think it is possible to fall in love online? I suppose it’s good to meet people and I’ve done a lot of things where I raised money for charities but no, I don’t do it for a romantic thing, I don’t use social media for that. For me, social media isn’t a place to flirt or find love.
Will you be open to people flirting with you on the show? Yes, it’s a gameshow but I’ll do it respectfully – I have had a chat with my nan about this and she said go for it!
Do you want to win? How far will you go to win? Yeah, I do want to win. Anyone in this position, when you enter a game you want to win it don’t you? I’d go as far as I can go to win, I’m not going to put a limit on myself. I’m going to stay respectful to my nan and family but of course I will go all out and do anything to win because it’s £100,000!
What would you do the prize money? It’s life changing – I’ve not really thought about it yet, I’ve been so busy preparing to be the perfect catfish but the money is a life-changing sum of money.
I’d definitely give some to my nan for allowing me to do this but other than that we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!
Any surprising facts or hidden talents that we should know about you? Dorothy is an amazing dancer and singer! She still line dances now at 85 years old, she can still put on a pair of tap shoes and tap around the house. It’s ridiculous how well she can move. If they do a similar challenge like last year where they put the sensors on and dance, I would nail it. I can move like Dorothy!
The Circle continues tonight at 10pm on Channel 4 and All4.