“I have the highest regard for Bill and his team. The quality of work is excellent.”
David Graham’s career in theatre, TV and film spans almost 60 years and today he is probably best known for providing the voice of Parker in Thunderbirds – both in the iconic TV series of the 60s and the film sequels – Grandpa Pig in the hugely popular children’s cartoon series Peppa Pig and the Wise Old Elf in Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom series that regularly appears on Nick Jnr. He has worked with some of the greats including Laurence Olivier and Leonard Rossiter and remains a much in-demand voice actor having only last month recorded an audio story for Doctor Who. His roles in Doctor Who are nothing new: he has played many characters since the 60s, most notably providing the Dalek voices.
David has been a client at Bill Bird Shoes since 1989 and it was a pleasure to catch up with him at his London home recently.
“I can’t remember when I made the happy discovery of Bill Bird Shoes but Bill has been making shoes for me for more than 30 years. At 91 I must be his oldest client.
I have had a problem with my foot all my life. I was born with my left foot twisted due to a fall suffered by my mother when she was pregnant with me. I was a patient of The Orthopaedic Hospital in Great Portland Street and I wore an iron on my left leg up to the age of nine.
I don’t have any pain or walking difficulties but I have very little movement in my foot. My left calf is thinner than my right and though my left foot has been through the mill I can walk fairly normally and at school was able to play games pretty well, particularly cricket.
I have been able to improvise in my acting career with normal shoes and have got by but of course am happier with Bill’s handmade shoes.
I have never had shoes made for a role but irony of ironies is that I was in a famous play called The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui with Leonard Rossiter. Rossiter played Hitler and I played Goebbels, who had a club foot. I had a shoe built up for me and hobbled around the stage – it was one occasion when my disability came in handy!
People who don’t know I have a foot problem would hardly be able to tell. Someone in the profession would notice but no-one else. I’ve had at least 15 pairs of shoes from Bill Bird and I usually see Bill in London at Grey Flannel where I buy my clothes.
I have the highest regard for Bill and his team. Bill has enabled me to walk with a handicap more or less normally. The quality of his work is excellent. I have nothing but praise for him. Bill is such a nice bloke and I’m glad he’s got such a marvellous team.
I am very grateful to Bill that his shoes have allowed me to pursue a successful career without anyone being any the wiser.
I have worked with Leonard Rossiter and was a member of Laurence Olivier’s Company at the National Theatre. Olivier liked my work very much and I was there for about two and a half years with him. I did a lot of theatre and I loved it, then I did a lot of TV, such as When the Boat Comes In, The Saint and Howards’ Way and voice work in plays and comedies for the BBC. I am still working and in June 2017 I recorded a Doctor Who audio story called Static with Colin Baker as the Doctor.
I’ve been lucky to have been gifted with the ability to produce accents and voices and this has helped prolong my career. It’s been a useful form of income over the years!”