Bill Fellows brought a wealth of experience to Dream Team at it’s beginning in 1997. An already recognisable face in stage, TV and film, Bill was Des Baker, father, husband, life-long Dragons fan and dependable landlord to Harchester’s future professionals. In his two years with the show, Bill appeared in more than 100 episodes and saw his character go through marital drama, the fear of a daughter he raised possibly not being his, to living apart from his family before leaving to put the Baker’s back together.

  MAY 30TH 2012

After graduating from the Guildford School of Acting, Bill came to prominence with the role of Jamieson in the 1982 film “How Sleep the Brave”, and achieved notable roles in the years that followed. Amongst the now over-70 credits to his name, Bill made regular appearances in “Flying Lady” (1987-1989), “Byker Grove” (2000-2001) and as Ellis Harper in the third series of “Land Girls” (2011).

 

Also recently, Bill featured as Joe Burns, love interest to Phyllis Logan’s Mrs Hughes in the award-winning “Downton Abbey” (2010). Bill’s film credits also include Joanne Frogett’s acclaimed “In Our Name” (2010) and “United”, the dramatisation of Manchester United’s attempt to recover from their 1958 plane crash, in which Bill played Sir Bobby Charlton’s father Robert.

 

An upcoming project which has high anticipation is “Harrigan”, a crime-drama written by Arthur MacKenzie which premiered at Cannes this month. Bill plays a detective in this Newcastle-set production with a 1970’s backdrop, which he discusses below alongside other projects he has on the horizon, and memories on his Dream Team days. Why he believes Des wouldn’t have featured beyond Season 2, and just what did happen to his and Lynette’s son?!

 

Des the Dragons mascot

1.9 (#9) (11/11/97)

 

 

 

Des and the two Blackburn fans!

1.14 (#14) (26/11/97)

 

 

 

Des gives Jacobs his due

1.29 (#29) (20/01/98)

 

 

 

Frank is there for Des after Lynette leaves

2.11 (#75) (06/10/98)

 

 

 

Des finds a new companion in Helen

2.25 (#89) (24/11/98)

 

 

 

But nobody matches up to Lynette, and Des leaves to find her

2.53 (#117) (02/03/99)

How did your casting/audition come about for Dream Team?

Basically for Dream Team it was a casting director I've worked for a lot called Jill Trevellick, brought me in. Jill's cast me quite a few times, she does "Downton Abbey" so I was in that as well. And she brought me in as part of the family [the Baker’s]. I was at auditions with Cameron McAllister one of the producers, and Jill brought me in because she liked me. I went through a number of auditions and then I got the part. She also knows I'm a football fan anyway because Jill herself is a big Liverpool fan and you never forget that kind of connection. I'm a Middlesbrough fan by the way. Second division sadly, but there you go.

 

Can you recall how it felt to be a part of a show that was at its very beginning?

What I felt was that we were at the beginning of something really new and cutting edge. With the way the football was portrayed, which up until that point I thought had never really succeeded presenting football on television properly with actors. They managed to make it work really well, that's what I remembered feeling with it. It was for Sky as well, it was the first Sky serial drama they'd done, so that was quite exciting to be a part of something brand new. Sky now is a fantastic company, they've dramas and everything but 13-14 years ago when I was in it, it was the cutting edge of the period, that's what it felt like to me. When I first saw the way they did the football matches, the way they coloured it in and all that business, I thought it was brilliant.

 

Were there any characteristics about Des you particularly liked?

I thought he was a very kind, generous person. He was always there for people, for the young lads he was a shoulder to cry on. He was reliable.

 

Whilst running the digs, Des & Lynette (Katy Newell) were seen to be almost the main parents of the series even to characters that weren't their own children. Was this a side to the character you enjoyed?

Very much so. You felt like you were the parents to a lot of teenaged naughty children. Doing stuff, especially with Daymon Britton, I remember this bit where I was teaching him how to drive and things like that, it was great. And also you had a chance to work with lots of young up and coming actors, quite a few like Darren Morfitt. That was one of my main enjoyments of it. In the first series we were in the house, and in the second series I was in the academy. I always thought the house was better because there was much more of a family feel to it like with my daughter and son you know.

 

The story where Des feared Lynette was seeing Mike Jacobs (David Hunt) and Des ended up socking him. Was that fun to film?

It was quite challenging. That final bit in the boardroom where I punched him was great, that felt great (laughs). Like he finally got it out of his system and he stood up for himself, because he was the little man wasn't he? He was the guy with not much money, not much going for him really, and then he thought his wife was betraying him. I think in the story he even suspected Zoe wasn't his daughter. It was probably one of my favourite storylines for the emotional stuff.

 

By the second season Des was taken in a totally new direction wasn't he, where he was separated from his own family…

Yeah he was. I think it was because they realised by that plot [in 1998] the lads' wouldn't have digs and academy's came into form, so they followed that from real life. So really the family weren't particularly needed as much, but Jane Hewland and Sky really liked my character so they wanted to keep me. It was a bit odd because in the story, my daughter had gone off to university, my wife had left me to go on a cruise ship, but I don't know what happened to my son!

 

I think we were supposed to believe he just went to live with his mother...

Yeah it was a bit odd. But don't get me wrong I enjoyed it, but for me it wasn't as interesting as it was the first series, for me personally. The first one was my best.

 

I'd say the team almost became his family that second season...

Yeah it was the academy, I mean he wasn't involved with the whole team. I think in the first it was more about individuals, and I think I missed the whole family interaction which I never had again so the youth team became the family really.

 

I remember the Christmas episode that year when he was with Fletch (Terry Kiely), Sean (Daymon Britton) and Warren (Clinton Kenyon) etc.

Fletch, absolutely. What I said about Lynette going as well, she did come back for a few episodes at the beginning of the second season didn't she. We didn't see my son or my daughter, but we did see Lynette, she wanted to go and find herself so that was the story there.

 

That technically comes to Des' exit which saw him heading off to potentially reunite with Lynette didn't he?

That was the idea in the end. It was what I felt as an actor that he missed the family life, it was his only chance to get it back. And as much as he loved the football and the team, he wasn't fulfilled and wanted to try and find her and rekindle their relationship. That was in the story. And in fact it worked out quite well because I left three-quarters of the way through, there was only a bit more to go but then it went into the first team [Season 3] which then I wouldn't have been involved in anyway, in the series.

 

Since DT you've been involved in a range of other projects spanning stage, TV and film, any of these sit particularly special with you that you'd like to discuss?

I can't even remember some of the stuff I've done but I've been very lucky and done a lot of projects since then. I've got three or four films coming out. "Harrigan" that's coming out, and another film called "Tested" with Emily Atack from "The Inbetweeners”, I play her dad. I've actually had a relatively good TV and film career. Obviously was in "Downton Abbey" for a little bit as well. I did “Land Girls” recently, was a regular in that. And I did something for America that was called "Blackbeard", that was a highlight where I was working with Stacy Keach and Richard Chamberlain, and was out in Thailand for four months filming that. That was quite a good job.

 

How about future projects - anything you can discuss?

Forthcoming stuff, I'm a regular in a teenaged/children's (bit of both) series called "Wolfblood" which I've just finished filming. And a sitcom called "Hebburn", it sounds like Heaven but it's actually an area, and then I'm off to do a couple of episodes of " Waterloo Road". Another is an Arabian film I did recently "King of Sands", all shot in the Middle East so that was quite a nice job. A lot of the information is on

my website, my imdb.

 

So it's all coming about quite nicely I think. I was over there [Ireland] last year, I did a film with Jason Figgis directing for October Eleven Pictures, "A Burial at Thorne Hill" it's only a three-hander, I don't think they've started editing it yet but keep your eyes open for that. The other guy, Brian Murray is quite well known, he played the Irish Prime Minister, and does a soap over there now. He did "Brookside" for quite a long time, all to do with that body under the patio storyline...

 

On Brookside, he was in the same family as Anna Friel?

That's right, that's exactly it. If you look on October Eleventh’s website they'll have it all there.

 

I remember another one you did was "United" quite recently...

United, of course, I only had a small part in that but it was a fantastic thing to be a part of with David Tennant and Dougray Scott. I played Bobby Charlton's dad, only a small part but it was nice. In fact funnily enough I did a play a couple of years ago in Newcastle where I played Kevin Keegan, being related to football that is. And it was on the stage. Somehow I've managed to keep on working!

 

You mentioned “Harrigan” which is coming up, I see Darren Morfitt's in that with you speaking of former co-stars...

Yep Darren Morfitt's in it, and I hadn't seen Darren for ages. We were actually reminiscing because it's the first time I've worked with him since Dream Team. I've worked with Daymon since then, he did one episode of "Wolfblood", and sometimes see him. It was lovely to see Darren as well because obviously, remember that very much the first episode of Dream Team where he walked out onto the pitch to the music of Radiohead "High and Dry" I think it was, remember that moment. And Clemency Burton-Hill who played his girlfriend, she's gone into presenting now and she's fanstastic. You've got Ali King who's now in "Coronation Street"...

 

I know she's done really well, probably the best out of every female on the show [post Dream Team]

Absolutely. I think she's done a great job on "Coronation Street." Who else out of the boys... any of the men equivalent to Ali King?

 

In the later years I think there were loads. Tell you the truth, Craig Robert Young who was Alex, he's gone off to America...

Someone else in the second series as well, Phil Barantini, he was a lovely lad. He went off to do "Band of Brothers". John Salthouse I don't see as much anymore...

 

He came back to Dream Team right at the end...

That's right, there was even talk of me coming back but it never came of anything. He [John] went on to direct/produce a series in Spain and I was in one episode.

 

It's interesting because it was a stepping stone for so many people...

I think if it had gone onto Channel 4 or Channel Five, which I think there was talk of that happening, it would have made a massive difference, because Sky now is very popular but in those days it was still the beginning, thirteen, fourteen years ago. But I have to say when I personally look back on Dream Team, I was very happy doing it, I was proud to do it as well. I preferred it, if I was honest, when it concentrated on the youth team. I loved that storyline about what was going on behind the scenes, that was my favourite part.

 

Like before they would have hit the big time?

I think when everyone hit the big time it went to the first team, lots of people loved that as well as it went on for eight years, but for me what was interesting was about the youth players coming through, like Clinton [Warren] and all the other people, I think it was a very clever storyline. There were lots of lovely people around and we were very lucky we were at the beginning of it. I think I left at the right time, maybe I could have done a few more months until the end [of Season 2], but I think it was right and it worked out quite well for me.

 

And it also gave Des a happy ending as well at that point…

It gave Des a nice ending, although you never actually knew whether he did sort it out with Lynette but he certainly went out with hope and went to look for her, try to find his family again which I thought was nice and it was a very special episode as well, saying goodbye to him. You know I wish it was on DVD...

 

I believe it was down to music rights, that it's never happened…

That's right, they had a special thing with Sky didn't they, that they could use the music but only on Sky. That's why it didn't go on Channel 4/Five either. It was a real shame.

 

Des Baker’s profile on Dream Team Diehard