Shaun Williamson: Barry Evans actor makes play for soap role despite quitting EastEnders

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Shaun Williamson, 54, would “love” to play a role in another soap such as Coronation Street or Emmerdale, after quitting EastEnders back in 2004. The Barry Evans actor only left the long-running BBC soap because he wasn’t able “to do much” outside of the show.

Shaun divulged to “I would love to go on Emmerdale or Corrie, because I enjoy it. 

“The reason why I left EastEnders was because I’d done ten years of it and it was all I had done.”

Although actors in EastEnders nowadays, such as Maisie Smith, are also able to appear in the likes of Strictly Come Dancing, that has not always been the case.

Shaun continued: “It’s not like now where they let people go off and do Strictly Come Dancing whilst they’re still in the show. 

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“They wouldn’t really let you do much. So I just wanted to do something different, it just happened my first job was pantomime. 

“It was great fun and it pays well. I just wanted to do anything different. I’d gladly go into another soap for a few years.”

After appearing as Barry for a decade, he said he was typecast, with the drama going out to millions several times a week.

However, the actor has no regrets, after he continued to work in television, and even starred as a parody of himself in award-winning programme Extras with Ricky Gervais.

Shaun revealed: “I think you realise you’re being typecast, 20 million people use to watch it, so you’re bound to get typecast because so many people use to watch the b****y thing. 

“There were only four channels you see, so everybody just watched the soaps, 20 million people did. You know you would get 12 million on a Tuesday night when there was nothing happening.

“It was extraordinary really. When I started working with Ricky Gervais it got more… they called me Barry all the way through it so I got even more typecast. 

“You might as well be typecast and busy, rather than not,” he added.

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The actor began his career “very late” after first attending drama school aged 27.

Therefore Shaun was open for taking any opportunity thrown his way, adding: “I thought okay, this is my chance, if I don’t grab this with both hands, I’m a mug. You have really got to knuckle down so I literally stopped drinking.

“I really knuckled down and concentrated like hell. It worked, I’m not saying I’m the best actor in the world but I left and got my agent straight from drama school. I got into EastEnders. “

The star has since published his own quiz book A Matter Of Facts which has been a huge success, after he took a break from acting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Shaun became “immersed” in the world of quizzing following a disappointing appearance on Al Murray’s Great British Pub Quiz in 2019.

He recalled: “I was lucky to be part of Al Murray’s Pub Quiz Show that was on the Discovery Channel. 

I became his ‘Brainy Bar-Man’ and there was a round where I had to take on one of each team, and I basically let myself down badly during one recording and lost both.

EastEnders airs on BBC One tonight at 8pm.

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