Eve has not always longed to be an actor although he recalls buying endless
film magazines instead of comics. The younger son of a Staffordshire
businessman he was sent away to public school in Worcestershire - an
experience he recalls without affection. He pointed to a boy who was eel-
fishing by the edge of the river 'Tell me, is that kid going to be a leader of men
when he's grown-up? You're written off by the age of 13 if you're not'.
Fortunately for Trevor, he managed the next best thing, which was to be chosen
for the First XI. 'I was plucked out of obscurity. But imagine how difficult it was
for those who were thick, hopeless at sport and not leaders of men'. He
reckons it was sport that kept him going during his schooldays - and his
passion for it has endured. There was talk of playing for a county team - as a
batsman - but as Trevor admitted: 'I didn't have the temperament. I used to get
really annoyed if I played badly.'
By the time Trevor left school his acting experience had been a brief part - in
drag, being a single sex school: 'a middle-aged lady, complete with silk
stockings.' He then moved down to London, to Kingston Polytechnic, to study
architecture, but although he enjoyed the design aspect of the work, he realised
at an early stage it was not the career for him: 'You know instinctively it's wrong,
so you get out.
I know this is going to sound ridiculous', he continued, 'but apart from RADA, I
didn't know which drama schools existed, so I looked them up in the Yellow
Pages.' His decision to turn to acting received mixed reviews form his family
and friends. He applied to, auditioned for and got coveted places at both
RADA and Central. He chose RADA: 'I had a ball. There was none of that
terrible frustration wondering what the hell you're doing. And because I'd
already made one mistake, I wanted to get down to the acting and make it
In the crucial seventh term when all the agents come in to forage for
prospective talent, Trevor Eve played Iago, for which he received the Gold
Medal: 'I was lucky,' he said. He was not just making the right noises, he meant
A week later, he heard that he'd got a job at the Liverpool Everyman. 'I arrived
on New Year's Eve without knowing where I was going to stay - but I loved the
place.' He worked in a variety of plays (including the lead in The Bofors Gun)
before landing himself the extraordinary role of Paul McCartney in John, Paul,
George, Ringo and Bert. After its first run in Liverpool, the show went to the
West End where it ran for a year. The role was an extraordinary one, Trevor
explained, 'because everybody knows what Paul McCartney looks like and
because they imagine what he's like as a person.' Each eye inflection, gesture,
hand movement, facial expression had to be absolutely right.
He watched the Beatles' last film Let It Be half a dozen times, running bits of it
over and over again. McCartney is left-handed, so Eve had to learn to pluck a
guitar: "not any old way but McCartney's way. When you walked on to the stage
you could sense the audience muttering: ' "oh yes, he's just like him," or "he's
hopeless, nothing like him".' It took the characters two hours to get made up
every night. It was, as Trevor agrees, in retrospect, excellent experience, but it
was exhausting to the extent that in his blackest moments he wondered
whether to pack it all in.
One of his first television parts was for Granada, under the directorship of Lord
Olivier. Trevor recalls their first meeting with awe and delight: 'He is above all
such a kind man. Friendly. We read together and he began by apologising for
his northern accent but, of course, it was brilliant.'
There was also the West End play Filumena, directed by Zeffirelli: 'I was
playing tennis and someone came and said: "Franco Zeffirelli's on the phone
for you." And I replied: "Sure, who are you kidding?" But he was.' Recently,
Eve played Jonathan Harker in a new Dracula film with Olivier and Donald
It is therefore surprising, after this experience, that Trevor is conscious of being
regarded as 'an unknown'. Shoestring is his first work for the BBC. It is a big
break in his career - 'a privilege awarded to few actors.'
Eddie Shoestring is an unlikely private eye. He had been in computers all his
life - he was successful, well-paid and gave his all to his work, with the result
that, by his early 30s, he is unmarried, unattached even. Eddie Shoestring
cracks up and is sent to an institution to recover from the breakdown. Here, he
devours countless private eye novels. He then decides to set up his own
business, whereupon he discovers - even if he has read every trick in the book
- that the 'reality' is a long way from the 'fiction'.
Shoestring is clearly an attempt to move right away from the Independent Cop
Working From Within The System. Eddie Shoestring's cases are not far-
fetched - they are believable and the result of difficulties of 'ordinary' people.
The series also deliberately moves away from the more familiar setting of
London's backstreets and dockland to the West Country with its variety of
scenery - city and seaside resort, market town and moors.
Shoestring is a professional, albeit reluctant at times, but agreeably eccentric.
Trevor Eve has to admit that the finds it difficult to describe in detail what Eddie
Shoestring is really like: 'Remember, I've been living with him for over six
months. The guy's part of me. I'm too involved with him. Besides, it sounds so
pretentious labelling somebody with a series of adjectives until you have
actually seen him in the flesh on the screen. All I can say is, I have set out to try
and create somebody different, somebody of interest. Eddie Shoestring has a
philosophy about his life. In a nutshell, it's that everybody should be allowed to
do what they want. Shoestring has been knocked by his breakdown, with the
result he has a good sense of humour, but most important, he's vulnerable.'
Trevor does not want Eddie to be overtly British. 'That is too much of an old-
fashioned caricature.' But at the same time, Eddie has to be appealing,
attractive, an individual who has his own strong sense of justice; someone who
is not afraid of stating his beliefs, nor of guarding his privacy.
Eve also likes the courage of the idea that Eddie has not been emotionally
stable. That he's not automatically one of life's winners. Trevor Eve's volatility,
aggressiveness and occasional melancholy should suit Mr Shoestring well. RT
1979 RADIO TIMES interview
written by VICKY PAYNE
Back to TREVOR EVE Q&A 2001
This article © Radio Times, 1979 and reprinted with kind
permission by the publishers.
This article © Radio Times, 1979 and reprinted
with kind permission by the publishers.
(from 29 September - 5 October 1979 edition)
Eddie Shoestring is an unlikely private eye - professional but agreeably
eccentric. When the controller of a local radio station in the West Country
employs him to investigate the misdemeanours of a disc-jockey, Eddie's
success in the assignment brings him his own radio programme where people
can phone in with their problems. Trevor Eve, who plays Shoestring, talks to
His face is familiar - and he has the sort of presence which causes people to turn
and watch him. He has a tautness which comes from being fit and a wariness
which comes from his dislike of journalists. You are left with the impression that
Trevor Eve has not made many compromises in his life and that the combination
of self-discipline, impatience and ambition is a nurtured and therefore successful
one. His commitment to his work is total, as is his determination to aim for
nothing less than perfection. He is both a realist and a rebel.
Trevor Eve lives in a lovely house - 'It was literally derelict when I bought it' - 30
seconds walk from the river at Kew. His early training in architecture has
obviously helped in doing it up. Friend and builder Pete was restoring the
staircase to its original state, hammering furiously. Trevor led the way to the river
only to discover that a million midges had got there first.
He admitted he was a little tense. The filming schedule for Shoestring has
involved a demanding six months commuting between London and the West
Country where the series is set.
TREVOR EVE as Eddie
Shoestring and DORAN
GODWIN as Erica
divorcee and landlady
Back to TREVOR EVE Q&A 2001
The following is a marvellous interview with TREVOR EVE conducted just as
filming on Series 1 of SHOESTRING was wrapping up, in which he discusses
his career up to then and outlines his thoughts on the character of Eddie
The portrait to the left
accompanied this article when it
originally appeared in the Radio
Times. The caption read: