What the Dickens is this all about?

Andrew Simpson is starring in Nicholas Nickelby
Andrew Simpson is starring in Nicholas Nickelby

It was a far cry from the world of Dickens for local actor Andrew Simpson who this week found himself stranded on the other side of the world in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Whilst ‘Nick Nickleby’ in which Andrew plays the starring role, was being screened on BBC One Andrew found himself in Staten Island helping with the hurricane clean-up operation.

“We came to New York to run the marathon for Action Cancer,” said Andrew, just minutes before he was about to make a dash to the airport on Wednesday evening to get a flight home.

“We decided that while we were here we would stay and help the flood victims in Staten Island. We’re hoping to get a flight home, but we’re not sure we can because we’ve been told that another storm could be coming.”

It’s been five years since Andrew Simpson hit the headlines when he clinched the role of the schoolboy seduced by screen siren Cate Blanchett in ‘Notes on a Scandal.’

And he says he’s proud of his Derry-Donegal roots. Hailing from Fahan in County Donegal, Andrew was a pupil at Foyle College and a pupil at Sandra Biddle’s Foyle School of Speech and Drama.

Since then he’s been to college where he studied law and in between acting jobs he works in Benedicts in Belfast.

And though he’s delighted with his role in ‘Nick Nickleby’ - Andrew says he won’t let himself get carried away.

“I take it all as it happens,” he said. “I’m happy enough, but in Derry you couldn’t let it go to your head, you wouldn’t get away with it.

“I had a great time studying at the London School of Economics. Now I’m back in Belfast acting away and working in between.

“I go to London at least once every two weeks for acting, but I couldn’t live there. It’s too busy for me.

“The shoot for ‘Nick Nickleby’ took about seven weeks. Bronagh Gallagher from Derry was there too. It’s always great to work with her because she keeps everybody laughing.”

Looking ahead to 2013 - Andrew says he’s excited at the opportunities the City of Culture will bring to Derry.

He currently has his sights fixed on a role in Adrian Dunbar’s ‘Translations’ and a French horror film.

‘Nick Nickleby’ concludes today on BBC One at 2.15 pm