Metro/Handout/Shane Mahood Thomas Howes, left, guest stars on Murdoch Mysteries.
Winston Churchill in Toronto under arrest for murder following a blind, drunken night on the town? Could it be? He often visited the city, which pays tribute to him in school names, memorials, statues and academic societies.
Ryerson’s Life Institute offers courses on his remarkable life. CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries has him walking our streets once again, played by another familiar Englishman: Thomas Howes, Downton Abbey’s ill-fated second footman William Mason. But murder? We visited Howes on the north Toronto set:
What kind of man is your Churchill?
Churchill is a young man, very active, tall and he’s just had the Battle of Omdurman and the war of the Boers and it’s been a very active time in his life. We start in 1909 when he’s doing these lecture tours in Britain and the States and Toronto. And that’s where we find him, with Murdoch. It’s turning into the new century, 1900, described as The Hangover of the 1900s.
He has no memory of the night before. But we find him drugged in this hotel room with the dead body of his best friend and he goes around with Murdoch trying to recall the memories he’s lost and recall whodunit because it looks like it could be him. So he’s trying to piece together the answer to the mystery.
You are covered in (fake) blood as we speak. Doesn’t look good for Churchill.
Well that you’ll have to wait to find out why because it could be he killed this guy or it might be some other reason, but he’s got the fellow’s blood all over his hands.
I understand there was some drunken swordplay.
We had a great day yesterday (on Murdoch) because Emmanuel, who plays Al, and I wanted to do our sword fighting scene ourselves.
We didn’t think we’d be allowed to but we were. They got shots with professionals doing some key bits of the sword fighting, but everything else they let us do ourselves! There is going to be a lot of us in the thick of it.
Ever since drama school, I’ve been falling down trap doors, hanging on ropes, football, which I’m no good at, running around the trenches with guns and now sword-fighting. But I love all that. I really do. I relish it. I always get the stunts. They always give me stuff that should be done by dashing young hero types, but they love to see me in those situations.
Downton Abbey’s given you a big career boost. How has it changed things?
It has. I have credits before this, but they were all stage. I wasn’t sure if I would ever do anything on telly, but Downton came along and recently it’s all been screen work. I’m juggling both at the moment. It did me a huge favour. A lot of the offers I get now are just off the back of that and I probably only got Murdoch Mysteries because of Downton, because it’s quite popular here too. It was big in Britain and huge in the U.S. and here.
Murdoch Mysteries premieres on CBC Television tonight. The episode featuring Thomas Howes airs Monday, Jan. 14 at 9 p.m.
Downton Abbey’s new season is now airing Sunday nights on PBS. Vision is currently airing Season 1 on Wednesdays. It will air Season 2 starting in February and Season 3 in April.