Created 9th April 2004

About Chris Chittell who plays Eric Pollard In Emmerdale

Christopher Chittell

IMDB entry: Chris Chittell

A Huge Big Thank you to Paul Berridge who has made various profiles and photos availabe. They were previously on his Beckindale site (that is no more). Below is one of those profiles put together circa 2001

Paul Berridge's favourite "Bad Guy" was Steve Marshal, played by Gavin Kitchen.
Seen here threatening Eric Pollard.
When Chris Chittell was signed to play dodgy dealer Eric Pollard for just 12 episodes of Emmerdale in 1986, he knew he had to make his mark, having struggled for years as an actor in a career that had included moving to South Africa following failed business ventures and running a shop and ferrying tourists around on a boat in Devon. 'I went for the throat, rather than fool about,' he recalls. 'I based Pollard on an ex-conman mercenary I knew in South Africa and a chap who delivered papers to us in Devon and drove me up the wall. After 12 episodes, I had a break for a couple of months, then was brought back on and off until, in 1989, I was given a full-time contract. I've never taken this job for granted. I think that's kept me on my toes.
'With Pollard I've always tried not to go for the obvious. So if the scripts says he is going to go ballistic over some situation, I underplay it. That's where his strength has been. And you can draw sympathy from a scene that hasn't been written in that light. The Aldershot-born actor, whose father was in the Indian Army, dropped plans to join the Navy as a junior radar technician when, as he was preparing to leave school, a friend suggested he become a model. An agent sent Chris for an audition at the Old Vic Theatre in 1963, when that venue became the base for the first National Theatre Company, under Laurence Olivier. After being auditioned by Laurence Olivier, he was surprised to be taken on and worked with actors such as Colin Blakely, Peter 0 Toole, Lindsay Anderson, Michael Cambon, Derek Jacobi, Robert Stephens and Maggie Smith.
Then Chris gained television experience, making his dubut in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, and at the age of 19 appeared in his first film,To Sir with Love, as an East End toe~rag called Potter,alongside Sidney Poitie.Television work followed, including appearancesin Knock on Any Door and The Avengers, and the roleof Nick Carter in two series of the children's drama Freewheelers. Chris was thrilled to be cast in the film The Charge of the Light Brigade, directed by Tony Richardson and starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud, Harry Andrews, Trevor Howard and Jill Bennett. 'It was history in the making,' he recalls. 'I played 43rd horse on the left and the horse got more close-ups than I did!'
He continued to make films, including Raging Moon, The Beast in the Cellar and two spaghetti Westerns shot in Italy. While making Concertfor a Solo Pistol there, he fell for an Italian actress who played a chambermaid in it and subsequently lived with her in Rome for four years.When that relationship finished, Chris returned home with just 20 in his pocket. 'I bought myself a bike and did work house-cleaning and flat-cleaning,, he says. In 1976, Chris moved to South Africa, where life appeared to improve and he appeared in Golden Rendezvous, starring Richard Harris, and Zulu Dawn.
However, the He also married Caroline Hunt and lived in the Transvaal. In 1980, the couple decided to return to Britain. 'In my last year in South Africa,' says Chris, 'I worked for just three weeks.'actor's past began to catch up with him and work was not forthcoming. Before his move to South Africa, Chris had appeared in a handful of sex films. 'When I came back,' he says, 'skeletons were coming out of the cupboard, such as films I should not have made. I had done them when I was on my uppers, after running up terrible bills and seeing the failure of ventures such as an antiques business and a restaurant. I thought I would never work in England again because of the content of those films.'
On their return to Britain, Chris and Caroline ran a shop in Devon and Chris worked on boats providing trips for tourists. His return to the stage came at the Old Vic, alongside Peter O'Toole in Macbeth. Then came the chance of six weeks in Emmerdale. 'We moved to Newark and here I am still in the programme more than ten years later,' he says.Chris, who continues to live in Newark, Nottinghamshire, with wife Caroline and children Benjamin and Rebecca, saw a revival of Eric Pollard's fortunes in early 1997 after the character had gone through a quiet patch and the actor himself had experienced his own problems.
'I've had panic attacks in the past couple of years, where I couldn't string two words together in front of the camera without rendering myself to be a gibbering idiot,' he reveals. 'In this job, you don't know from one year to another whether yotire going to be gainfully employed. I always thought I was going to be fired, even years after joining Emmerdale - I thought they'd find me out. just didn't have any self-esteem as an actor.
'I had a double-act with James Hooton, who played Sam Dingle, for a while and, after he decided to leave in 1996, all of a sudden they ceased to write for Pollard. All I got was a spit and a cough. So I went to the producer and said, "I can't do this. It's too stressful. Either give me something or nothing." As a result, they brought in Claudia Malkovich as Dee and Pollard ended up marrying her. Also I went to see a faith healer on a regular basis, and then a hypnotherapist who managed to fix me at the second attempt. All I remember was feeling very tired and her saying, "And that's between us." I came round and, thank God, I've been on the up ever since.'


James Hooton

Taken from the emmerdale companion by Anthony Hayward

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