One of a number of real-life footballer's who ‘signed’ for HUFC, Darren White played professionally at The Den while it doubled as The Dragon’s Lair, with Millwall for several years. With other stints at Brighton and the chance to play for England at school boy level, Darren transfered to Dream Team mid-way through the sixth season as Defender Tyson.


While his beginnings in the series were quiet, Darren as Tyson developed into a regular character, one of only two team-based characters this happened to, along with Danny Husbands as Sully. He had been given the nickname of “Tys” prior to the show, by his former Millwall team mate Micky Bennett. Behind the scenes, Darren had the enormous responsibility of Football Consultant, a job which basically left the trust and importance of any team related matters with him.

 

After the series, Darren joined his long-time friend Andy Ansah in his highly respected business Sports On Screen, along with their former DT co-star Ryan Lee, and together they run SOS’s casting division Sports Models On Screen. The job has taken Darren around the world to work with some of the profession’s best and brightest; choreographing and directing on some big sporting projects, including Nike’s 2008 European Championship campaign and the brand's latest commercial involving the pairing of Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Nadal.

Darren discusses all this below alongside his time on Dream Team, including how it felt to lose so many cast mates at the end of Season 8, his special involvement in War of the Roses, and whether he’d want to be involved if the show ever made a comeback…

 

An early appearance from Tys

6.21 (#281) Dead Man Walking [ 02/03/03]

 

 

 

 

 

With Clyde during the club’s liquidation

7.22 (314) 11 Angry Men [ 29/02/04]

 

 

 

 

 

In Cardiff for the Championship Play Off final… and the infamous coach explosion

8.32 (356) Play Off [ 29/05/05]

 

 

 

 

 

An emotional return to the Millennium for the three survivors

9.19 (375) Just Another Game [ 26/02/06]

 

 

 

 

 

Tyson and the one that got away!

10.10 (397) Sick of Christmas [ 31/12/06]

 

 

 

 

 

He wanted to do it for the lads! Sully injures his oldest pal

10.31 (418) The Final Whistle Part 1 [ 27/05/07]

 

 

 

 

 

Tyson needed to see Fletch! More important than the Final!

10.32 (419) The Final Whistle Part 2 [ 03/06/07]

You came into the show in the 2002-2003 season, which was Dream Team Season 6. How did your casting come about?

It was unique. I played with Andy Ansah at Brighton, so we kind of knew each other from outside of the show. Literally, I didn't really have a casting. Having watched the show I spoke to Andy and it came from a phone call really. That was on a Sunday and on the Thursday I was shooting. It was a real opportunity.

 

Tyson signed from West Brom, and I know you started your career at Millwall. Did you have any connection to West Brom yourself (I'm just asking being a former local there myself)

I know Blackheath - no connection [to West Brom] but at the moment my former team mate Steve Reid plays for West Brom but that's as close you can get.

 

When Andy left the show midway through Season 8, you took on the role of Football Consultant behind the scenes. What did that involve?

Wow, what didn't it involve... A bit of everything. I had a say in the costumes, what players were wearing. Kits - who we were getting the kits from, who was sponsoring them. Acquiring all the equipment; Umbro, Nike, Underarmour, Diamond Sports & Valsport provided a lot of the on-screen products. Adding to that, storylines - the writers, producers were trying to ensure that a lot of the storylines were authentic. Going onto the Rose brothers’ story, the Christmas showing, some of that was taken from my own personal experiences growing up [see below]. Adding to that, what you'd see on-screen, the football scenes, obviously a little bit of acting as well, which turned into a lot of acting which was great.

 

The casting for the actors who were potential footballers. It was really a job that kind of was quite vague to try and explain. There were so many things that you had to do on a daily basis, ensure that everyone was where they were meant to be. It was at the time of the coach crash at the Millennium Stadium, that wiped out the whole team. My first job was to first of all tell some of my best mates that they were out of a job, which was unique in itself. And then, on another hand, I had to go out and get the new team. It was a very difficult job but I learned so much and it gave me an instant idea of what was expected within the demanding industry.

 

The end of Season 8 saw the upheaval of a lot of your co-stars, in what's best remembered as a controversial move. What did you make of that decision?

Personally, I was devastated. Going away from a show you just look at your friends, some of my best friends were in that series. Very, very difficult. To not only be a survivor, but also to tell them "You've lost your job", I'd only taken over Andy's role that season. It was also a battle being an extra then one day going to now choreographing and telling people what to do, it was a very unique environment to be in. A lot of people, I'm sure a lot of my co-stars/colleagues may have found it difficult at times to adjust to my style because I was slightly different to Andy. So it was very difficult and honestly I personally, although it was good for drama, I personally would have liked some more survivors.

 

Unfortunately I thought it was a disaster it happened because a lot of the [new] characters you didn't warm to, but on another hand if you look at it from my own personal experience, it was almost like a blessing in disguise because I managed to become a more of a main character. Fans associated more with Danny Sullivan and Darren Tyson so it was like I was what was left. If I could have changed something it would have been obviously not so many of the characters dying, and going and wiping out the team because continuity of a football team, all it would have needed was a couple of free transfers, a couple of transfers, maybe one or two unfortunate deaths but not wipe out the whole team.

 

The beginning of Season 9 started as a new chapter for you in the show as Tyson became more prominent, the first episode being your first as a regular, was there a specific way this promotion came about?

I suppose it was about trying to keep some kind of continuity from Series 8, with so many deaths, and with only three characters surviving, they had to start somewhere. I think it started with the three of us in Presley's hospital room where he died, kind of picking up where we left off last year. I suppose my character could've had a breakdown or possibly left the show, but obviously I must have done something well!

 

We touched upon your story in War of the Roses, we know that Eugene's story was based on your early experiences in the game, how much of what we saw actually happened to you?

Yeah it was parts of it really, parts of my story, I mean if I told you my story then maybe you can find your own connections with it. I was a really late starter in football, you know most of my friends were playing from the age of eight, maybe a little bit earlier. I didn't really start playing football until eleven, but made huge progress in the game, at fourteen I signed for Millwall on a two-year-contract, and two years later I was playing for England Schoolboys. My rise came really quickly, it was out of the blue really, but I took my opportunities. I think that goes back to what that episode was trying to [put across] - the opportunity's better if someone just takes it. Like I said I went and played on for Millwall, think it was four-and-a-half years. The episode looks at Eugene, with his mom and the accident, and his brother...

 

(On Eugene's mother's death) that didn't happen to you in real life did it?

(Laughs) No! That didn't happen. On the drama side it makes you warm to the character a bit more.

 

Coming towards the end of the show, the ironic thing being the three survivors in yourself, Danny (Danny Husbands) and Ryan (Ricky Whittle), were all present for the most important game, the League Final of the last episode, yet none of them actually played in it did they...

No that's right, no. We didn't feature in it, again you never really know where the writers are going with it, although I had a certain amount of say in certain parts of the show, I wasn't in every script meeting and the writers get paid for doing that job and they will decide where a character is going to develop, be a part of and end up.

 

Do you think he would have forgiven Danny for not only injuring him, and taking him out of the most important game, but also the whole Dragonslayer antics?

I don't know, that's a big question that one. Obviously because the characters have known each other for such a long time I would've been sympathetic towards him, and his wife and the twins. It depends how we would have ended up, I assume we won the League?! Or Tyson went off with a side somewhere in the Midlands and is still alive. I don't know how the characters would have developed after that if they'd survived, obviously there'd have been a lot of hatred towards Danny's character, but also a lot of sympathy, I'd known him for so long, we'd been through so much together. Yeah it would have been really interesting to see how that would have panned out.

 

Going on past the series, do you have a place you imagine Tyson would have ended up, would he have ended his career with the Dragons, possibly gone onto coaching or even managing?

Yeah I would have liked to have thought that I would have ended my career as a Dragon, maybe met someone in Hollywood and settled down, beautiful movie star out there, you never know. But yeah I think he would have stayed on with the team, perhaps coached, had some kind of capacity, maybe something out there in the future.

 

Outside from the show, judging by your account on Twitter and your work with Sports On Screen, you're still in contact with so many from the show...

Yeah I mean, growing up I had a couple of best friends, they kind of played football, and then after that I never really anticipated meeting really good people that would actually not only impact my life but also be made part of my life. If you look at a lot of the characters on the show, a lot of the people, we still see each other on a regular basis. I recently got married in December, and Ricky Whittle and Alex Lawler were two of my three best men, also had Andy Ansah as an usher along with Wes Cain there. Ryan Lee is another close friend, along with Alex O’Reilly and Ben Walshe. So I've met some amazing friends along the way, and I actually class a lot of them as my best friends.

 

It was almost like a cauldron working in that environment, and we had some really good times, kind of did everything together. If you imagine being on set, turn up at the studios at seven o'clock in the morning, go in have some breakfast, get make-up done, get changed and a lot of our days wouldn't finish until 7pm. You'd work together and then go out together, socialise together, so I've actually made some of my best friends working on that show. Working on Sports On Screen with Andy Ansah and Ryan Lee, we've taken the essence of what made Dream Team so great, you know our work ethic, our camaraderie, and we've expanded on our knowledge from working on Dream Team. Obviously Andy went on to do parts of the "Goal!" trilogy, so he's gained various other strings to his bow, and Ryan Lee was the consultant for “Dream Team 80's”, so we've gone out and kind of educated ourselves.

 

Do you get asked about Dream Team every single day on Twitter? You seem to be the one person they always come to…

(Laughs) Do you know what at the moment I think I do! I'm getting a lot of ‘Dream Team Love’ so to speak. I don't know if I might be the only one who replies? I mean Ricky's on there - I think there's about 30-40 of the cast members on there. I get asked a lot of questions but I try and converse if they have a question to ask, I'll try and answer.

 

Your work today with Andy and Ryan in Sports on Screen, and it's casting division Sports Models On Screen, you've worked and continue to do so with some impressive people and companies/businesses. Do you have any particularly proud moments you'd like to share?

There'd be too many! I don't know if you've seen it on YouTube, we just finished working with Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Nadal on an advert and it's now viewable on YouTube. The last time I checked it had just under six million views. If you put in Ronaldo vs. Nadal Nike advert you'll see it crosses two of the world's biggest sports stars, and working with them on one campaign. There's loads, I've worked with some amazing athletes.

 

Growing up one of my boyhood heroes was John Barnes (just like Eugene, that's where that comes from) and I met him when I was fifteen when Millwall and Liverpool played a pre-season friendly. We became mutual friends, so having someone who was a hero and then having their number to call up and have a chat was quite unique. I actually took part in an advert which Andy and Ryan were also in, it was the Hyundai adverts, which featured John Barnes, John Collins, John Hartsford and Jim Magilton the old QPR manager, so that would be quite special because I managed to be in an advert with him as well. As well as Ronaldo/Nadal for how big it was and the rave reviews it's got.

 

(On John Barnes) And he was good enough to come into Dream Team wasn't he, several times...

Yep. So got to meet him then. We were lucky like that, we had a lot of people that actually wanted to come. I had so many friends that continued to play the game that loved watching the show. It was because we tried to make it so authentic (except all the death) a lot of players associated their own experiences with some of the storylines. There was a show on the other day about sexism in sport - someone made a good point about women working in sport, we had Lynda Block as a Chairman, and you know we tried to break down a lot of barriers. We had a gay footballer, I think we had one or two gay footballers that came out in the team. Across sport people are a little uneasy about coming out with their sexuality because they panic about how they will be treated or abused, and these were the kind of storylines that we hit head on. Dream Team tried to open people's eyes, tried to break stereotypes.

 

(On women in sport/DT) One I always thought was brilliant was Naomi Ryan as Ashleigh...

Yeah she was a great character, really strong. As an actress she was a beautiful young woman, absolute joy to work with on a daily basis, she was so down to earth, and playing the character Ashleigh she played it as well as anyone could have done. She was on point with a lot of lines and just changed the diversity of Dream Team, also made it a bit sexier which is never a bad thing!

 

And with Sports Models On Screen do you upload every single commercial you've done to the site?

No not all of them, because we do so many it would be impossible. We're constantly uploading but there's a lot out there which aren't there...

 

So is there anything you're working on now which you can discuss? I saw your Olympics promotions with Lloyds TSB and British Airways...

Yeah that was a big campaign that we worked on for a large part of last year. As I said Ronaldo/Nadal we only completed about five weeks ago. There's been one or two jobs since which I can't really talk about. But there's always really great campaigns, the majority of the things you see on TV, or in the sports shops, and a lot of the larger sports brands/companies/stars, 9 times out of 10 it would have been us producing that.

 

And you'd say you were the best in the business...

It's a niche you know. I think there are one or two other individuals working in the industry that cover so many basis, so many sports. A lot of the companies would use us because of our expertise. A lot of the athletes want to use us and work with us, if you look at a lot of the work Andy has done for example “Ronaldo Tested to the Limit” and “Rooney's Street Striker”, there's a lot of scope for kind of moving forward, to work across different areas. So it's been a work in progress across a number of years, we’ve got ourselves to an established place in the market where we're No.1.

 

As for the possibility of the show ever returning, I personally feel Sky1 is now a different channel to what it used to be when Dream Team was on. If it was to, I know you guys do work with TV programmes as it says on your site, would you be willing to get involved again even if you didn't feature on screen. If they asked?

You know instantly I'd like to say yes, but it really depends on so many different factors. In terms of what capacity, you know would it be as an actor, a consultant, and would it mean that I wouldn't be able to do some of the things I do now on a daily basis. If there was a scope for us to work and be the production company that took it on again, I think we'd all love to be involved working on such a great show, which ultimately put us all on the map - look at some of the other actors who have gone on to bigger and better things. It helped so many of us. I think we all have a love for Harchester anyway and the brand of Dream Team so yeah I think we'd like to be a part of it if there was ever a chance for it to come back and be on our screens again. It would just depend on the capacity.

 

I feel if they put the work into it (on which ever channel) it could be bigger than it was the first time round...

I think so because there's nothing out there say football TV shows at the moment. And I think looking at what we've done then we've all progressed in our own careers. You know it was great, but it could have been so much better...

 

Like the publicity and advertising?

Yeah, I mean obviously in Ireland [where Dream Team Diehard is based] there's a huge following. I think it's amazing the kind of adulation we got in Ireland and some other countries. I know at the moment Ricky Whittle's living in the States, some of the series are actually on at the moment...

 

And Dream Team did well in America...

It did yeah, and in one or two other countries as well. I'd love to see it back on our screens, if I could be a part of it I'd love to.

 

Ricky would probably get recognised in the U.S for Dream Team more than Hollyoaks wouldn't he?

He would be yeah. I've honestly never met a nicer person than Ricky. When we would go out and play charity games, up until the point when he got injured - that was a really traumatic time, for all of us, especially him. He would be the last player back in the changing rooms, he'd be going round the stadium trying to sign every programme, shirt, kit. The amount of time he would spend trying to give back.

 

I think that pretty much covers it, there was one more thing - in the Christmas episode of Season 10, they gave Tyson a girlfriend and then she never featured again. It was when they were having Christmas dinner round at the Moody's...

(Laughs) Let me try and remember that... you know what it's really bad but I cannot remember who the actress was that played the part. Yeah I didn't really have a girlfriend in the show, or a wife so to speak. If I could remember who it was I could tell you. Did she have any dialogue?

 

No I don't think she did. She was just there at the table next to Tyson. I thought "Oh yeah they've let him score at last" and she never featured again

(Laughs) Thanks for that!

 

 

Tyson’s profile on Dream Team Diehard