Rugby writer’s son is just the part as Just Daniel

TONY ROCHE, the long-time rugby writer for The Sun, is looking ahead to the Christmas period with anticipation of more than Strictly Come Dancing‘s Gavin Henson’s return to the “big stage” at Wembley.

Just William: Daniel Roche

The sportswriter’s own scene-stealing son, Daniel Roche, may emerge as one of the biggest stars of the festive period’s televised dramas as he takes the title role in the BBC’s Just William

Daniel, my youngest son, got involved with the acting business by accident. A school pal attended a Saturday morning acting/dancing agency session and invited Dan to join him.

Within four weeks, a Spotlight snapper turned up to do the annual pix of the kids, and asked my wife Judith and I if we minded if he included Dan. Within two more months, he was appearing in TV adverts for Huggy Dry-Nites, Kingsmill Bread and Norwich Union.

This led to TV auditions, and at the age of six Dabiel was picked to appear in Casualty, filmed in Bristol  in 2006, as a kid with educational difficulties. This, in turn, led to an audition with Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin – creators of Drop the Dead Donkey – for a new programme, Outnumbered.

Dan won the role of Ben Brockman, and the success of the show led to to many awards as well as Dan and his co-stars being nominated for BAFTAS.

Scene-stealer: Daniel Roche with the rest of the cast of Outnumbered

Outnumbered is unique, with the adult actors, Claire Skinner and Hugh Dennis, having scripts, but the three children, Ramona Valquez, Tyger Drew-Honey and Dan, having to improvise to camera.

His role in the series has, in turn, led to Daniel appearing in an American short film entitled Off Season, which was shown in a French festival.

Daniel was then cast in a heavy West End play entitled Miss Lilly Gets Boned, which earned strong reviews, followed by a Stephen Fry short movie for Sky at Christmas, Bunce, in which he plays Fry at public school, while Fry plays the headmaster he loathed.

The BBC then invited Daniel to audition, with hundreds of others, for the role of William in their Christmas revival of Just William.

Producer John Chapman declared that the moment he saw Dan, he also saw author Richmal Crompton’s William in the flesh.

Dan took to the role with gusto, working in tandem with three other child actors as his gang, The Outlaws, in a series starring a fabulous cast including Dan Ryan, Rebecca Front, Warren Clarke, Caroline Quentin, Roy Hudd and John Sessions.

Daniel, who is now 11, says:  “People keep asking me how much of me is in Ben, and how much is in William. Truth is, bits of both which, coming together, create the real me.

“I believe William is basically a good boy, one who tries so hard to do well for others, but who also believes he is right in whatever he does.”