Hugh Fraser played Captain Hastings in Agatha Christie’s Poirot and the Duke of Wellington in Sharpe. Other TV: Edge of Darkness, Edward and Mrs Simpson, and Alan Bennett’s The Insurance Man. Film: Patriot Games, The Draughtsman’s Contract, 101 Dalmatians, and Clint Eastwood’s Firefox. Theatre: Cloud Nine, Traps, Filumena and David Hare’s Teeth’n’ Smiles; various RSC roles.
An accomplished musician, he co-wrote the theme tune “Rainbow” for children’s television.
We’re interested in this column in your career as an audiobook narrator and now as an author in your own right. But I suppose the story really begins with Captain Hastings. I now can’t imagine that character when I read the books without picturing you! How did you get cast in that iconic role?
It happened in much the same way as any other casting in television drama at that time. The casting director suggested me for the role of Hastings and I went and met with the producer Brian Eastman and the director Ed Bennett at London Weekend Television and we discussed the series and the character of Hastings. A week later I was called back to meet David Suchet and we read a couple of scenes from the first episode and talked about the relationship between Poirot and Hastings. A couple of days after that I got a call from my agent to say they had offered me the role and I was happy to accept.
You soon turned to narrating the audiobooks of Agatha Christie and have so far performed over 90 of them! How did your acting career help you transition into being an audiobook narrator?
There was very little transition involved in fact. The narrator is a character in any book, albeit a neutral one, and as an actor I was used to assuming a character and speaking in his voice. When it comes to the other characters in the book I simply performed them as I would have done on radio, television or in a film.
What process do you have to prepare to perform an audiobook?
I would first read the book as if for pleasure then I would go through it again and make a list of the characters with a brief description of each e.g. “60 year old rather dippy Dowager Duchess,” “Sexy chorus girl,” or “Pompous purple-faced Colonel,” and then I would decide on a voice for them and go in to the studio and record it.
You have now published three crime thrillers of your own: Harm, Threat and Malice. What drew you to writing your own books, and did all the research you put into understanding the books you narrate influence your own writing?
I began writing a long time ago, first a couple of stage plays and a radio series. A few years ago I did a short story course with Guardian UEA and showed the beginning of my first book, Harm, to the tutor Bernardine Everisto who encouraged me to continue with it and I went on and finished it. I don’t think there is really a crossover between narrating books and writing them. Narration is essentially an interpretive skill, whereas writing involves creating original narratives and characters.
Since you are such an amazing audiobook narrator, why did you not choose to narrate your own books?
As my books are first person narrative and my main character is a lesbian contract killer in her teens and twenties, I believe Annie Aldington did a better job than I ever could.
Hugh is active in his Twitter page.
Check out his Amazon author page.
Check out his audiobooks available on Audible.
He has his own Wikipedia page.
Check out his IMDB page.