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Sid Owen sings
Good Thing Going
 real 28k

Friday, 23 June, 2000, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
What Ricky done next
Sid Owen
Owen says he has always been involved in music
By BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas

After 12 years playing "thicky" Ricky Butcher on EastEnders, Sid Owen is out to ditch his nice-but-dim image.

With his sights set firmly on chart success, Owen is bringing out his first single, hoping to prove he has both talent and a head for picking a winner.

Good Thing Going is the song - a cover version of Sugar Mynott's 1981 hit. Owen, 28, says there were sound commercial reasons behind not opting for an original piece.



People need to get used to seeing me in a different context

Sid Owen

"I've always liked the song but I knew it would be a perfect summer track. It has a great happy feel and I wanted to come across as relaxed and chilled out."

The ruse is obvious to the soap fans who followed Owen through his many tortured scenes as miserable motor mechanic Ricky.

Last seen in April clambering dejectedly into a juggernaut, Ricky left the soap after years of traumatic storylines which involved him in adultery, crime and the loss of his child.

But behind the down-trodden screen facade, Owen says there was always a real-life musician waiting to get out.

"I've always been involved in music in some way. Although I wasn't in a band when I was in EastEnders, I have a lot of friends who are musicians and I regularly go and jam and do studio work with them. So, it's long been my ambition to record a song of my own."

Cliché

Initial reactions have been favourable. He's already played several regional gigs which he says "went down pretty well".


Martine McCutcheon
Martine McCutcheon has made a success of a move into pop

But there's no avoiding the fact that - following Anita Dobson, Nick Berry, Michelle Gayle and Martine McCutcheon - Owen is treading a well-worn ex-soap star's path - and risks being the butt of jokes.

Owen declares himself unfazed by any potential criticism.

"Why should it matter if you have come from a soap and everyone knows you for that first?," he asks, sounding somewhat irritated.

"Martine, for example, had done a lot of theatre work and had always sung.

"At the end of the day all we want to do is the same as everyone else - work.


Sid Owen
Owen wants to create a new image

"So all I can do is try my best to convince people that I really can sing by getting as much exposure beyond EastEnders as possible - people need to get used to seeing me in a different context."

But Ricky Butcher is still very much in his mind - and heart.

"I've only just left so I am trying not to think about it too much at the moment. But I did love everything about it and I do miss it: the people, the place - the lot," he says.

Walford memories

The storyline that led to his departure was explosive. Abandoned by adulterous Bianca, Ricky turned to drink and was involved in a crash.

Phil Mitchell tried to persuade him back to Walford but the last we saw of him was hitching a lift, bound for Hamburg.


Sid Owen leaves EastEnders
No looking back: Ricky leaves Walford behind

The story was a fitting finale to Ricky's increasingly desperate existence in Albert Square. Owen says the evolution of his character was part of its appeal.

"He grew up over the years just as all of us have to change. He became more sensitive and more mature.

"I used to be on the end of a lot of jokes but work is work and you just have to put up with it. The best thing about being an actor is that you can detach yourself."

The story Owen most enjoyed was the build up and marriage to Bianca. The public's enthusiasm for the event was, he says, a great motivation.

Instincts

Owen is welcome to return to the series, and while he hasn't ruled out the idea, in the long-term his acting ambitions lie further afield.

If the right film script beckoned, he says he'd be there like a shot - particulary if it was a gangster movie with his hero Al Pacino involved.


Sid Owen and Patsy Palmer
Happy times: Ricky marries Bianca (Patsy Palmer)

"Soap operas produce the best drama on TV so there should be no reason why I couldn't go into films or any other form of acting," he insists.

He is signed up to do a London West End musical next year - but will say no more than that.

Instead, he pulls his thoughts back into the present, saying that he is thinking of nothing more than the job in hand.

"At the moment, I am concentrating on my music and if it goes really well I will definitely put everything else on hold.

"But whatever happens, you have to adapt. Go with your instincts and also be prepared to stick at something it - just like I did with EastEnders."

Good Thing Going is released on 26 June on Mushroom Records

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See also:

20 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Ricky waves goodbye to Walford
24 Feb 00 | Entertainment
From EastEnders to Eliza
12 Apr 99 | Entertainment
Ex-EastEnders star's perfect moment
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