The Good Listening To Show: Stories of Distinction & Genius

Actor, Animal Activist & Animals Asia Ambassador Peter Egan, on Rescuing Moon Bears from a Life of Despair from the Bile Farms of Vietnam to a Sanctuary at Last

November 22, 2023 Chris Grimes - Facilitator. Coach. Motivational Comedian
The Good Listening To Show: Stories of Distinction & Genius
Actor, Animal Activist & Animals Asia Ambassador Peter Egan, on Rescuing Moon Bears from a Life of Despair from the Bile Farms of Vietnam to a Sanctuary at Last
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Delighted to welcome Actor, Animal Rights Activist Peter Egan to The Good Listening To Show 'Clearing'.  Fresh off a plane from Vietnam, Peter is here to recount his poignant experiences of just having returned from a Bear Sanctuary managed by his beloved charity, Animals Asia. 

A life long and passionate Animals advocate & vegan, Peter very movingly highlights the tragic reality of Moon Bears trapped in crush-cages with a life of despair in the Bile Farms of Vietnam, and the commendable efforts by Animals Asia to give these beautiful creatures a second chance at life in a Sanctuary at last.

A pleasure & a priviledge to curate him through the journey of the show, the conversation then takes a very Shakespearean scenic detour, as we wander along together through his 'Clearing' of a serene woodland retreat, accompanied by his four loyal canine companions. We then venture into the shared world of our love of acting, mentioning greats such as John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier & Peter O'Toole, along with Peter O'Toole's mentor, Director Nat Brenner. 

We also get a 'sneak-peek' into his latest TV project, "True Love", and the bond he shares with Daniel Day-Lewis, a fellow alumni of mine at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School with a conversation about Acting Teacher Legend Rudi Shelley too.

My conversation with Peter then takes a deeply personal turn as he opens up about his greatest love of his life, his late wife, Myra. Listen in as he movingly reflects on her courageous battle with cancer and her brave decision to take control of her treatment. We then delve once again into Peter's unwavering commitment to animal welfare and how he's embraced a vegan lifestyle too. 

From his rebellious student days to his successful acting career, and his undying passion for animal rights, prepare to be inspired by Peter's extraordinary journey and how he's leveraging his platform for change and for the welfare of all.

Tune in next week for more stories of 'Distinction & Genius' from The Good Listening To Show 'Clearing'. If you would like to be my Guest too then you can find out HOW via the different 'series strands' at 'The Good Listening To Show' website.

Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW wherever you get your Podcasts :)

Thanks for listening!

Chris Grimes:

Welcome to another episode of the Good Listening To Show your life and times with me, chris Grimes. The storytelling show that features the clearing, where all good questions come to get asked and all good stories come to be told, and where all my guests have two things in common they're all creative individuals and all with an interesting story to tell. There are some lovely storytelling metaphors a clearing, a tree, a juicy storytelling exercise called 5-4-3-2-1, some alchemy, some gold, a cheeky bit of Shakespeare and a cake. So it's all to play for. So, yes, welcome to the Good Listening To Show your life and times with me, chris Grimes. Are you sitting comfortably here? Then we shall begin. And a counterforce, I don't have to edit it later. Wonderful. I'm delighted to welcome, for a very special episode of the Good Listening To Show Stories of Distinction and Genus, an actor called Peter Egan who just has one of those. As soon as I heard your name, I had your face go womp straight into my psyche. You're part of my fabric as I experience at British Theatre. You're an icon, sir Peter Egan. Thank you. Welcome to the clearing.

Peter Egan:

Chris, that's what it kind of is. Thank you very much.

Chris Grimes:

And we've spontaneously been put in touch with each other because I got a notification from an entity called Newsroom. You've just returned from Vietnam where you've been to oversee a bare sanctuary, and I'd like you, obviously, to tell us all about the story behind the story of that. But thank you for being here, even though no doubt you feel a bit jet lagged. So do you want to just get on the open road. Apart from being very welcome, when have you been and what have you been up to?

Peter Egan:

Yes, I've come back from Vietnam. As you said, long flight. I flew first to Hanoi. This is because of Animals Asia. I'm an UK ambassador, along with Leslie Nicolle, my very good friend. We're both UK ambassadors For my favorite charity on the planet Animals Asia. Animals Asia rescue moon bears from bio farms in China and Vietnam, and in China there are about 18,000 bears on engages, but in Vietnam there's far less. And last year I went to celebrate the breaking of the ground for the new sanctuary in Bac Mar, which is outside Huey, which is an hour airplane flight from Hanoi. And this time I went to celebrate the agreement and the intake of three new bears into the new sanctuary. There's just opening now. This year there are two enclosures 10 more to be built, so lots of fundraising to do and in the first enclosure there are three bears Armstrong, aldrin and Apollo, all named after the moon landing. You got that. That's great. And moon bears just for people who don't know, I won't go into great detail about it suffer appallingly at the hands of bio farmers. They're kept in crush cages for up to 30 years, their entire lifespan. They're in crush cages. That means a cage they can hardly move around in. They have their bile extracted from an open port to their gallbladder daily, which is an extremely painful procedure. The bears, of course, because they have no natural movement at all, are driven mad by this confinement. They try to chew their way out of the cage and destroy their teeth, they bang their heads. They just go through the most appalling journey. The lucky ones are rescued by Animals Asia and then brought to these sanctuaries where these broken bears are prepared and then allowed out into these large enclosures in the sanctuary where they can replicate as far as possible a natural habitat, because they'll never be released to the wild again, because they just wouldn't survive. Yes, in my opinion it is the cruelest and worst animal welfare problem on the planet. There is no other situation in which animals are kept in cages for their entire lives 30 years, I said and every natural instinct is repressed, destroyed and broken, all for something that is now replicated synthetically and is much better than the bile that you extract from a moon bear's gallbladder. So it's a horrific journey, it's cruel, and thank goodness the Vietnamese government have agreed with Animals Asia to end bear bile farming in Vietnam from 2026, when the remaining 300 bears will then slowly be transferred into these wonderful sanctuaries run by Animals Asia.

Chris Grimes:

Are you rescuing these broken bears at the point where they might be about 20, 25 years into their awful, awful country?

Peter Egan:

Yes, the ones that came in recently. I was at a medical check for one that had been in a cage for 20 years and almost all of the bear's teeth had to be removed because they were broken and had serious gum problems because of spending years chewing on an iron bar. Yes, of course they have to have their gallbladder removed because it's so infected by the time. They've had this bile extracted on a daily basis and they are in physically. I mean because most of these bears will never have touched grass, will never have touched the soil, and these wonderful bears would travel up to 40 miles a day in the wild. They would spend their day foraging and eating a variety of plant plants and in so doing, do a great service, as gardeners of the forest, to our wonderful planet, because by eating a variety of plants, they are cross pollinating the plants, and also what they pass in terms of their bowels to the earth creates an amount of rich matter that can be occupied by bugs and insects and stuff that in turn will create a life and go into the soil and enrich the soil. So they, as gardeners of the forest, provide a very vital service to our planet, along with, of course, many other species that are endangered and destroyed by human appetites, but concentrating on moon bears. They provide a wonderful service to our planet and that is denied, then, and us as well. So it's a negative on every single level. And did I say that the bile is replicated synthetically much better than the, but I was going to ask you what I mean.

Chris Grimes:

as a layperson, I wasn't even sure of what bile farming would be the end. I mean, what's the medicinal benefit of it even?

Peter Egan:

A very small remedial benefit in that this acid for wanton of Etiwer, which is taken from the bile, it does have a remedial effect on joints and rheumatism. Some other old guys believe it's better for their libido and it will cure their hangover, but that's a little rubbish. But the synthetic bear bile is much healthier, much more effective and much more powerful. So nobody needs to take bile from a bear and it's just an old fashioned, I suppose, bit of Chinese farmer that they believe it's more effective and it's not. And of course Chinese farmer is supposed to be noninvasive and I don't know how you get bile from a live bear without invading its body.

Chris Grimes:

Yes. So it's a constant Absolutely heart wrenching, and thank you to you and Leslie Nicholl for being such sort of proponents to get it to say it really.

Peter Egan:

Thank you very much, chris. That's good to hear. And, of course, animals Asia. It was founded 26 years ago by Joel Robinson, who is a remarkably inspiring and committed woman, and she's been working at this now for 30 years and what she has achieved is absolutely amazing, and her team at Animals Asia are the best team working with animals that I've ever encountered. They're just absolutely inspiring.

Chris Grimes:

And when was your own journey to that charity as well? When did you first get connected to them?

Peter Egan:

I first got connected in 2012, 11 years ago, when Jill Robinson asked me to be a UK ambassador for the charity and I went out to Chengdu in China to visit their first sanctuary there and I was just overwhelmed by the amazing work being done there. There were 120 bears there when I visited all those years ago and I was just completely taken by the power of these wonderful animals and their forgiveness and just seeing them, because, being a sanctuary, you observe them, but it's not like a zoo. You can't make any demands, which is quite right as far as I am concerned.

Chris Grimes:

The recuperation is possible. It sounds like it wouldn't be if someone's been. You know, a poor creature has been oppressed for all of its life.

Peter Egan:

Yes, the recuperation is in the main successful, but not successful enough to return them to the wild, because they would never survive in the wild. They were just overwhelmed. So, yes, they repair as much as they can because the attention to detail, for instance, they are trained which is which I watched this last time to have their blood pressure taken and by giving a series of treats they put their arm into a sleeve which is then wrapped with the blood pressure monitor and they are given treats while their blood pressure is taken. And it's, you know, quite remarkable. They're given antibiotics every day. They are given an enriched diet, so they very, very quickly start to put on a bit of weight, get stronger. A lot of the bears, because they've spent their lives in cages, have a form of dwarfism as far as their legs are concerned, so they have shorter legs for their bodies. So the furniture in the enclosure has to be adapted for a smaller leap, as it were. But the attention is just amazing that they get from and most importantly, of course, these bears. You see, I mean it doesn't matter whether a bear has a name in the wild, but in captivity you can't once you only have a bear being called a number, then there's no, you don't know. What can you identify with. So the first thing that animalization do when they rescue a bear is they give it a name, which I think is just sensational.

Chris Grimes:

And just say the three names again. I remember Apollo being one of them. The other two names Apollo Armstrong.

Peter Egan:

Neil Armstrong, have you remember him? Neil Aldrin and Buzz Aldrin.

Chris Grimes:

Oh, how fantastic. Yes, so do you know the names of many, many bears now that you've rescued?

Peter Egan:

I mean, I know names of a lot of bears, but there's a huge amount of them that have been rescued, so I own more a fraction of their names. Yes, lovely.

Chris Grimes:

So if I'm going to curate you through the journey of this now and I'm so premium aware that you've been an animal activist for much of your life, so please do reincorporate that as we go through. But if I may be triggering, it's my great privilege and pleasure to curate you through. Obviously, we want to do some proper messaging about animals, asia incorporated in what we do. But yes, it's clearing a tree, a juicy storytelling exercise called 54321, alchemy Gold, a couple of random squirrels which could also be in a sanctuary, and a cake via a bit of Shakespeare, so it's also playful. So, first of all, peter Egan, just going right back to fundamentals, where is a clearing for you? What's your serious happy place? Where do you go to get clutter free, inspirational and able to think?

Peter Egan:

I think a clearing for me has been for 30 years or more now, and that would be out in a wood walking with my dogs. It's the only time that I forget completely about myself and just concentrate on them and what they require. I mean, they are marvelous, the dogs are just the most wonderful companions. They, to begin with, are very demanding in terms of, one, the time you get them out to the wood. Once you're out in the wood with them, they go off and do their own thing. They keep always checking that you're there. So if they run I don't know if you have an animal yourself, but you will know that once if a dog goes into a wood, it will run into a heavily densely tree populated area, but it will never lose sight of you. It'll suddenly pop its head around a tree and say, oh, you're still there, fine, okay, and it goes off. So it affords you time. One, to keep checking on them, but two, I find, because I love the environment and the peace of it all, I find it's a great time just to kind of reflect and think and, if you want a better word, chill, and so that would be my.

Chris Grimes:

And you have a veritable squad and a menagerie of dogs. You mentioned four when we first got on the call here.

Peter Egan:

That's right. Yes, I've got Pippa, who's a staffy cross, I've got Boo, who's a staffy cross, I've got Titus, who's a German shepherd cross with a smaller dog, got a big body and small legs. And I have Sebastian, who I rescued just after my wife died two and a half years ago and I wanted him to experience some of her spirit. So he was a dog who'd been in a shelter for 12 years. He's a German shepherd cross with a husky got piercing blue eyes, and so I brought him in then and he's now 15 and is sort of on his last leg, as I would imagine. But what I love about the fact of having him you might just hear him barking in the background, there he's in the garden is that when he first arrived he was quite reticent and suspicious and quiet, and after a few months he became quite demanding and he tells me when he wants his breakfast, he tells me when he wants a walk, he tells me frequently when he wants a treat, and I just love that. And once he's got it he goes and lies down and does his own thing and I really, really value the fact that the dog that Seb is now confident enough to make important demands. I see that as a great learning curve.

Chris Grimes:

Wonderful and I will listen out for someone calling out the names Seb Pip in the woods. It'd be very idiosyncratic to Peter Egan taking his walk in the woods as his clearing Absolutely.

Peter Egan:

Absolutely.

Chris Grimes:

Very puck-like, if I might say, in the woods and in the forest, in the magic woods.

Peter Egan:

Yes, indeed, absolutely.

Chris Grimes:

Wonderful, so we're in your clearing and is it a specific word or the woods generically?

Peter Egan:

I like to be in woods that are left to rewild for want of a better image, but I do like there to be a kind of clearing where I can sort of just sit in dappled sunlight, like in the center of a maze, really, you know. So there was that seat that you can sit in, and it is quite reflective, because a maze is being a very complicated journey with various dead ends and ways through. One could compare that to one's arc in life, really, you've got paths with dead ends and you get through one that takes you clearly through to certain places, and so, similarly, I would say that I like a kind of a maze clearing in a wood as well, and very nice if someone has taken the trouble to either cut a stump for you to sit on or, in fact, put an wooden bench somewhere for you to sit on. So, yes, a bit of a clearing in the center of a wood is my ideal spot here.

Chris Grimes:

You've gone all prospero on me now as well. This is fantastic. So that's so beautiful by design that I've got the right clearing for you in the woods wonderful. So now I'm going to arrive with a tree in your clearing and shake your tree to see which storytelling apples fall out, and if you are able to answer now. You've had five minutes and you have literally had five minutes because you're jet lagged. You've just come back from Vietnam, so we'll see how you do as you let your thinking unfold to on the open road of four things that have shaped you, three things that have inspired you, two things that never fail to grab your attention and that's where the random squirrels will come in and then a quick your unusual fact about you, peter Egan, that we couldn't know until you tell us. So, first of all, four things that have shaped you.

Peter Egan:

Four things that have shaped me, wow. Well, I would think that the first thing that has shaped me was when I accidentally fell in to the business of acting, because I left school at 15 with no qualifications. I'd only ever read two books in my life, apart from just William One was Treasure Island and the other was Oliver Twist and by accidentally becoming involved, there's two very good titles, by the way, to have stumbled upon as the only two. Yes, not mad at all, both amazing great books for young people to read, great books for adults to read. And so, by becoming involved in a business that is to do with words, a great friend of mine who I met then and this is now 60, oh God, 62 years ago an Irish writer as he is now called, shane Conniton. He wrote the screenplay you may remember the film my Left Foot, and he's written for five or six novels. He's a wonderful writer and a great friend. He was a little bit older than me and I noticed him in the Samurta group. He always had a book in his pocket and he was reading a book by Emil Zola called Earth, and I said it was sad and he said, oh, it's a book by Emil Zola, it's called Earth. He said you should read it. I said no, I'm not interested in that kind of thing. He said, well, what do you know what kind of thing it is if you haven't read it? So I went and I got ahold of the book and it was a great translation and what really appealed to me as a 16-year-old there was great scenes of love making in the fields and stuff like that. So it was, as a lot of Zola is very erotic and very passionate and beautifully written. So that's only a small part of it, but he was a great writer, so that was a great introduction to literature for me. And then we decided over the years that as a form of education for us both, that we would choose a country, say France, and read all of the famous writers from that country. So Victor Hugo, and you know A bit of. Rassine or whatever, rassine absolutely and Rasha Nadoshtaevsky and Golgol and Chekhov and stuff like that. So we sort of flirted around the world picking up wonderful novels, and so I read avidly from the age of 16 to about the age of 30. By the age of 30 I stopped reading as many books as I read. I've carried on reading all of my life. So that was a major, major step for me and this business has basically educated me, which is a great gift.

Chris Grimes:

And I love the fact that just noticing a book in a pocket just launched you into the world of literature.

Peter Egan:

Absolutely yes. And also what was fascinating as well was because I came from a very working-class family, which is a surprise to most people, because most people think I'm very posh and I went to eat all of that. And the Sitting in a rehearsal room at 16, watching amateurs though they were very talented amateurs discussing the detail of the phrasing of one line. I sat there with my mouth open thinking this is really fascinating stuff, the kind of thing that you just do naturally say hello, how are you, or they are discussing the tone of it and what does it mean by it? And it's like the two psychiatrists in the Lyft and one turns to the other and says how are you? And it applies to something like what do you mean by that? Yes, absolutely. So it was fascinating. And that also opened the book on another form of learning, which was reading scripts, which has been part of my life, for the major part of my life.

Chris Grimes:

Yes, and what's the last production you've just been in? Maybe would be a good question at this point.

Peter Egan:

It's a television series called True Love. It's on Channel 4, strangely enough, in January. We just finished it in August of this year. It's two hours. True Love is the umbrella given to a kind of care that a group of 70-plus friends who meet at the funeral of one of their friends who died horribly and during the evening drinks at the wake. Afterwards they decide to start a pact, which is the True Love pact, which means that if any one of them faces a horrible death, the others will help out, and that will be the definition of True Love. So it's a very, very fascinating. It sounds a bit morbid but it's not. It's a very, very interesting series, very, very well written, with a great cost, and I'm very proud to be a part of it. And that's Channel 4 in January.

Chris Grimes:

I highly recommend it, and presumably it's not written by the same author of my left foot. That would be the full cycle of life coming full circle.

Peter Egan:

It would indeed, and it was a play of his in 1968, long time ago which is the only time, strangely enough, that I've acted in something that Shane has written.

Chris Grimes:

And Daniel Day-Lewis, by the way, was at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School where I went, so he was always the one that Rudy Shelley would work with.

Peter Egan:

Well, shane Connorsen was at Bristol Old Vic as well, was he? But he was there from 64 to 66. Yes, I auditioned at the Bristol Old Vic in 64 when I was 17. Yeah, and Rudy Shelley, who was one of the great teachers there. He said, peter, we would like to offer you a place, but we can't give you a place until you're 18. So come back next year and we'll give you a place then. But I'd also auditioned for all the drama schools. I got into them all, luckily, but I auditioned for Radha and Radha said come and come to us.

Chris Grimes:

So I went to Radha when I was 17, which was and Rudy Shelley would always say oh, danny, danny, you should have seen him. And then he would use the same expression talking about the psychiatrist. What do you mean? I'm joking. But he would say about me, chris, chris, oh, you should have seen him, you know, same sentence.

Peter Egan:

But really, when were you there? When were you when we were at?

Chris Grimes:

Bristol 86 to 88. I was there, oh, great, lovely, but I was one of the last, of the sort of dying guard, if you like, of the brilliance of Rudy Shelley and Nat Brenner.

Peter Egan:

Brenner yes, he was Peter.

Chris Grimes:

O'Toole's mentor.

Peter Egan:

Absolutely, they were indeed, although Peter O'Toole, of course, trained at Radha, but he played his big introduction in many, many plays at Bristol in the late 50s, didn't he, of course? Yes, so great, brilliant actor O'Toole.

Chris Grimes:

So we're still in the canopy of your trees. Can we get three things that have, three things that influence you?

Peter Egan:

now Three things that influence me. Oh well, that's interesting also. I'll follow them down the way anyway. Okay Well, I think I've been influenced a lot by Other actors that I admired in my early days in this business, when I was came into it in the 60s. You were defined by the fact of whether you thought John Gilgore was the greatest actor on the planet or Lawrence Olivier was the greatest actor on the planet. And John Gilgore People who favored Olivier said oh, but he's just very sing-songy, he just sings his lines and it's a very poetic and beautiful, but not real. And Olivier box his lines with high energy and it's very, very real. I, in fact, admired both of them equally. I thought that that Gilgore was a great poet and I thought that Olivier was a great athlete. Yes so I would say, in my early days of acting, I was heavily influenced by both actors because I felt they had the ability, what we used to call ourselves in the early 70s, late 60s, but it was very sounds, very pretentious, but you know, it would be classical actors who heard themselves as wordsmiths that we are, you know, beating out words, words on the anvil of our thorax, or yes, and so you, with a muscular commitment, making words sound good. So, and I was so impressed with the, the, the abilities and phrasing of both of those great actors that that really kind of gave me a very, very powerful foundation into my entrance into this business and also cleaning up my vowel sounds and making myself sound much more Up a middle class than I actually were you lucky enough to work with both as well.

Chris Grimes:

In Admarine I work.

Peter Egan:

Gilgore at Chichester in 1971. I didn't work with Olivier, but I had the Great pleasure of having dinner at his house when I was doing a tour in Brighton with Dorothy Tudin, of a Barry plague for what every woman knows, and he invited the four leading actors back to his house after seeing the play and it was just fascinating to sit. By this time Olivier was well into his 70s, but to sit at a table with him at the head and his wife at the other end, joan and you couldn't. You kept getting drawn to the power of this man. Left it just this Powerhouse of energy and talent and his daughter Tamsen.

Chris Grimes:

Olivier was at the Central School of Speech and Drama when I was doing my teaching degree there, before I went to Bristol to do my truck my actor training.

Peter Egan:

Oh, really how interesting. Yes, and how was she?

Chris Grimes:

Well, she, rather famously she nearly run me over in a mini ones. And anything personal in that? No, nothing at all. No, I just happened to be very crappy, crossing the road at the wrong time. Anyway, sorry, I'm digressing and I hope we're doing okay for time for you, by the way. So let me know.

Peter Egan:

I think we are yes, yeah lovely.

Chris Grimes:

And so now, two things that never fail to grab your attention, which is the what squirrels you know borrow from the film up. Irrespective of anything else that's going on for you, peter Egan, what never fails to grab your attention.

Peter Egan:

Well, I think, certainly at this stage in my life, compassionate people, people who are kind and people who are empathetic and I meet a lot of them in the world of charity and so I would say, the thing that never fails to get my attention is commitment and discipline and a total commitment to dimensioned compassion, and by that I don't mean selective compassion, where people feel they're compassionate because they love their dogs but ignore every other species on the planet. Well, perhaps I should have mentioned to you, in terms of the influences, Sorry, yes, I probably cut across that.

Chris Grimes:

Yes.

Peter Egan:

No, you didn't know. You didn't because I wasn't quite sure how much I contributed. As far as that concern, of course, as I think back on it now, since my wonderful wife Myra died two years and nine months ago, I would say that she had, she was, the greatest influence on my life. I mean, she did. I, when I met her I was 24 and we were together for 49 years, and she, because she was so naturally compassionate, she had an unwavering moral compass and a great commitment to truth. I was very much An actor, laddie on the make, running all over the place and, you know, very impressionable and wanting nothing more than to be famous and to be a star. And In meeting her it took a long time for me to kind of stabilize it. Well, I mean, I just I felt her and I thought she was amazing and very attractive and and we had a great one of the great bonding things for each other, apart from attraction, was a great sense of humor, and so she Really I've said this before and I think I would attribute this to her she taught me how to be human and I think that was a great gift that she gave me. So I would think that, in terms of being influenced, I think Myra was the greatest influence on my life, and if I may ask, was it co vid related her demise in the end? No, it was cancer. She had a very fast-moving cancer that started in her lungs and went on to a spine, and I mean, sadly, myra was a heavy smoker. She gave it up in 1993 and stopped for 17 years, then started again in 2010 and Whatever. I don't know whether these things lie in our system anyway, or anyway it's. At the beginning of co vid, she had a fall and then they thought she had osteoporosis and then a long because co vid delayed everything, as you know a long period of time before she was finally diagnosed after many, many Tests were a variety of things over a period of nearly two years, the whole of that co vid period. They finally allocated what it was and it was a terminal cancer and and she very bravely, I think, but sadly for me decided not to be a victim. She was given a Prognosis of worst four months and, at best, 11 months to live, and she just decided that she was going to take control of that herself and I didn't want any kind of treatment and and shut down basically and, as you, she died within a month basically, which was pretty horrible To experience as far as I am concerned, but I understood entirely why she did that. There was no other way out and she didn't want to be a victim. So I would say that, yes, without a doubt, she was the single most important influence in my life.

Chris Grimes:

She did it with good grace, and you, you sound incredibly in love, and that's such a cool thing. Thank you so much, absolutely Um. So now could we get a quirky or unusual fact about you, peter Egan, that we couldn't possibly know about you until you tell us?

Peter Egan:

Well, I think that the quirky and unusual fact would be that most people who have either followed me or know me professionally would all think that I was a public schoolboy or a university educated. Some people, because in the early days of my life I played so many kings and lords, thought I was about 39th in line for the throne. So I think the thing that would surprise many people is to know that I come from a council flat working class background. I went to a secondary mod school. I failed my 11 plus as the door to the headmaster's office shot behind me when I left as soon as I could, when I was 15, the last words the headmaster said to me well, you might as well leave, you'll end up in prison anyway, he didn't like me at all.

Chris Grimes:

So that's why he didn't credit him as being a major influencer.

Peter Egan:

Sadly, I was a very, very, very bad student and I don't think, although I have met many teachers since in the 70s and the 80s and they all had fond memories of me that I could believe really. They all thought that I was a hooligan and a bit of a spin, but they all thought that they could also see that maybe they're being generous, because by that time I was quite a well known actor. Maybe they were being generous and saying that we thought we could see some good in you and we're glad to see that You're a bit of a wild card.

Chris Grimes:

however, it's couched, I think.

Peter Egan:

Absolutely Very much, so Very much a wild card. And my father, sadly, he was a, he was a dobler and when he, the whole Irish family came to London in the about 1936, I was born in 46. My father, strangely, because he was a completely committed Catholic as well as a completely committed boozer he married my mom, who was a Protestant, and I could never see how or why they were together, but they were together. My mother lived from 1903 to 1998. So she lived for almost the whole of the 20th century and I would say generally that, sadly, she lived for that whole period of time unhappily, which is sad and I think of a relationship. But so, yes, I would think the least known fact is most people would be surprised to know that a working class kid that did good and polished himself and that became more presentable.

Chris Grimes:

By the way, there's an extraordinary irony. I heard there about somebody who's been unhappy all of their life, and there you are now rescuing bears that have been totally unhappy all of their life. Interesting link. Yes, absolutely yeah, we have shaken your tree, hurrah, so now we're going to move away from the tree but stay within the clearing, within your lovely wood scape and Prospero Park, like space midsummer nights dream. And now we're going to talk about Alchemy and Gold. When you're at purpose and in flow, peter Egan, what are you absolutely happiest doing in what you're here to reveal to the world?

Peter Egan:

I'm happiest campaigning for all of the charities that I care about. I'm happy campaigning to raise awareness for the wonderful Moon Bears and for Animals Asia, which, as I said, is my favorite charity on the planet, but I also campaign to ban the import of body parts and trophy hunting. I campaign to end animal testing. I campaign to save the rhino and the hippopotamus elephants. I'm attached to over 20 charities throughout the world, all dealing with animals that contribute so much more to our planet when they live in their own habitat, when they have the opportunity. Ian Redmond describes the great silverback gorillas as the gardeners, the keystone species and the gardeners of the forest, and I think all of these big, magnificent creatures are gardeners of the forest, particularly the bears, as I described earlier, because of how they perform in their lives. So someone said to me if you had to give up acting or campaigning, what would you give up? And I said acting, without a doubt, because that's far more important to me now, campaigning than acting, and I've been an actor, I think, as I said, for nearly 60 years now, and I can't thank the profession enough. I've been very, very lucky. It's created the platform for me, which in some cases an international platform where I can speak about the things that I care about in terms of other species and in terms of our planet itself. I am deeply saddened by the fact that so many people don't believe in climate change and don't believe that we, because of population growth, are destroying habitat for so many other species and in so doing, we are destroying our planet and so campaigning for the planet, to leave a better footprint on the planet and indeed, to leave a more committed and more caring commitment to the three things that define my life compassion, kindness and empathy. Beautifully put.

Chris Grimes:

I love the delicious, through line, of the fact you're in your clearing, within the center of the forest, and you're curating the welfare of the animals that are surrounding the gardens of the forest in which you are dwelling, like the forest of Arden. We're into as you like it now as well, absolutely. So now I'm going to award you with a cake, hurrah. So do you like cake, pete Regan?

Peter Egan:

Well, so long as it's a vegan cake, because I'm a vegan it will have to be a cake that doesn't involve any animal product or any dairy or anything like that, and there are many, many vegan cakes that are absolutely delicious, I have to say. And I would say also, if I may, just pushing my vegan message, my campaigning, please do that I find being a vegan is the most rewarding lifestyle choice I can think of, because every day I celebrate the fact that the food that arrives on my plate involves no cruelty and no death, and I feel that every single day it's a wonderful reward for making a commitment that is so important in terms of our planet and in terms of the cruelty that exists in animal agriculture. When you think that there are about 7.8 billion people on the planet and something in the region of between 30 and 50 billion animals are killed each year, it's mind-boggling just to feed a few people. So the cake I would look forward to, so long as it's vegan.

Chris Grimes:

The vegan cake is yours, and now you get to put a cherry on the cake. What's the favourite inspirational quote that's always given you sucker and pulled you towards your future?

Peter Egan:

There are two, I think, but one would be, if one is given a gift, to pass it on. So if you have been lucky, then pass on your luck. And the other is, if you don't use it you'll lose it. So I think, use it, don't lose it. It's very important to me as well.

Chris Grimes:

What notes, help or advice might you offer to a younger version of yourself?

Peter Egan:

Don't strangle your inner person by trying to be something different. Allow your inner person to exist, no matter how uncomfortable it may be whilst you are transitioning in life. I believe firmly that none of us really grow up until we're 40. I think it used to be 20 years gone by when there were greater certainties and demands made on young people that aren't made. The only demands that are made on young people nowadays are Xbox and the internet. And how can I best spend my time indulging what I want to indulge on my own? It's very antisocial, I think, so I kind of lost myself. Where did I start this? Sorry, an inspiration.

Chris Grimes:

No, best advice to yourself, best advice to myself.

Peter Egan:

Yes, don't strangle your inner person. Allow your inner person to live and learn how important preparation and discipline is for everything you do in life.

Chris Grimes:

Hence, if you don't use it, you'll lose it, so keep it in secret.

Peter Egan:

Yes, Absolutely, and certainly in our profession. There are lots of people who are quite good at singing but don't bother to develop it, or might be quite good at dancing, and this is so diversified. Now show business that people are asked to do so many different things. So if you have a small ability, make it bigger.

Chris Grimes:

So now we're ramping up to Shakespeare momentarily. And, by the way, this is the actual. Well, it's not the first folio, but this is the Shakespeare complete work I took to drama school Amazing, wonderful. This says Chris Grimes, 16986, please. So this is the. Anyway, so, inspired by Shakespeare, we're ramping up to that. But just before we get there, this is a moment called Pass the Golden Baton, please. Who in your network would you most like to pass the Golden Baton along to, to be given a damn good listening to in this way?

Peter Egan:

Can it be just a?

Chris Grimes:

friend. It can be anyone you like who you think would most enjoy benefit being given a good listening to. It's an invitation to pass the Golden Baton, to keep the golden thread of the storytelling alive.

Peter Egan:

Well, I think I would certainly pass it on to my greatest and oldest friend, shane Connorsen. The writer, shane Connorsen.

Chris Grimes:

Wonderful and thank you very much. That's a great gift indeed. And now, inspired by Shakespeare and all the world's a stage and all the men and women, merely players, inspired by that the Seven Ages of man. Do you mind me asking how old you are, by the way, peter, 77. You see, you're perfectly, perfectly, in a sort of King Leary way, poised to now, if you could share with us. We're going to talk about legacy now, how, when all is said and done and you've implied it beautifully all the way through, about your kindness and wanting to curate the animal kingdom, but this is for you to say how. When all is said and done, peter Egan, would you most like to be remembered?

Peter Egan:

Oh well, that's very good. And there's a quote from King Lear which I really embrace a lot in my life, which I think is very important, and it's when Lear meets the newly blinded Gloucester on the white cliffs of Dover and they're looking out the channel and Lear turns to Gloucester who has just had his eyes plucked out, if you remember and he looks at Gloucester and says to Gloucester how do you see the world? And very touching sorry, very touching reply from Gloucester answers I see it moving me. And that for me, encompasses everything that is renaissance about Shakespeare as a writer and human, about Shakespeare as a writer, and so I think I would embrace that as a tombstone message, which would be how do you see the world?

Chris Grimes:

I see it moving me Beautiful, just allowing a bit of silence to hang there. So now, importantly, where can we find out all about you and the animal sanctuary in Vietnam? Where can we find out all about you on the internet?

Peter Egan:

On the internet. You can find out all about me on Facebook and I'm recognized because my face is there. People know my face Peter Egan on Facebook, also on what used to be called Twitter X at Peter Egan six and Peter J Egan on Instagram. But mainly I do most of my posting, and most of it about animal's Asia, on Twitter on Peter Egan six. But most importantly, if you want to follow the great, great charity animal's Asia, just Google animal's Asia dot org and a mountain of information will come up and you can also visit them on Twitter at animal's Asia. But it will come up. Go on to YouTube and just Google moonbear foam bath and you will see a fantastic amount of little videos about moon bear cubs having their first moon bear foam bath. It's magical, it's beautiful and the kids love it. Kids love bears and they see these little bears, and so I think that's what is very important. Vitally important to me is that young people should allow their compassion to grow and should always trust the fact that they love animals. The cliche is that the young person is playing with a rabbit in the garden and, having finished playing with their rabbit, they go indoors and they say to their mother what's for dinner, mommy, and mommy says rabbit, darling. And there you have this division in compassion that already you are stopping the child's natural compassion from growing, and it's done through what is apparently the most harmless of things, which is diet. So I believe very, very firmly that all children, via the good and intelligent intuition from their parents, should allow their children to develop dimension to compassion rather than singular compassion.

Chris Grimes:

Thank you so much for gracing us with your presence here in the Good Listening To Show Clearing, and as this has been your moment in the sunshine, is there anything else you'd like to say about this experience?

Peter Egan:

Well, it's been wonderful talking to you, chris, and it's been very, very interesting to just tap on the various crusts of things that are very important to me, because, of course, once you tap them, one thing comes out to begin with, and then, of course, there's a huge amount of them behind. So there's a whole other conversation we could have in six months or a year's time to go with the things that I haven't said today. So we may revisit it if you're interested.

Chris Grimes:

I would love to do that. I was just going to say because I know we've been in a slight hurry because you're doing a day of interviews today, but I'm so grateful. I love the spontaneity of suddenly getting you landed my lap, potentially to interview you and, as I said, as soon as I heard your name, your face was just there. Your face is now here and it's been a real pleasure and a privilege to talk to you.

Peter Egan:

That's so kind Ditto. I reciprocate that entirely. Chris, it's been great talking to you.

Chris Grimes:

So my sincere thanks to Peter Egan. And, yes, don't forget to check out the website wwwthegoodlisteningtoshowcom. And don't forget if you too would like to be my guest, then you can find out how on the website. Care of the various series strands. I've been Chris Grimes. That was Peter Egan. Tune in next week for more stories from the clearing. Goodbye. You've been listening to the Good Listening to Show here on UK Health Radio with me, chris Grimes. Oh, it's close up. If you've enjoyed the show, then please do tune in next week to listen to more stories from the clearing. If you'd like to connect with me on LinkedIn, then please do so. There's also a dedicated Facebook group for the show too. You can contact me about the programme. Or if you'd be interested in experiencing some personal impact coaching with me, care of my level up your impact programme. That's chrisatsecondcurveuk. On Twitter and Instagram, it's at thatchrisgrimes. So until next time for me, chris Grimes from UK Health Radio. I'm from Stan. To your good health and goodbye.

Rescuing Moon Bears From Bile Farms
Animal Asia
Influences and Career Reflections of Actors
Influential Actors, Personal Loss, and Background
Peter Egan's Animal Welfare and Veganism