Interview with Tyger Drew-Honey
Tyger Drew-Honey is ripping up the Rose with Posh, the tale of upper-class boys running wild. Tina Lofthouse finds out more from the Epsom-born actor
Speaking to Tyger Drew-Honey a day after Boris Johnson has become prime minister is somewhat timely. Tyger will make his stage debut in September in Posh, a play that, while fictional, takes inspiration from the likes of the Bullingdon Club, the controversial ‘dining club’ of Oxford boys that were known for their riotous behaviour. Its members included many politicians including Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron.
“Clearly people have very different views on Boris becoming PM but in terms of Posh it is fitting that we are doing this now as the story is about these young men from the upper-echelons of society and their parties, and in the play it all goes a bit Lord of the Flies. It is a great piece of theatre,” says Tyger, who plays Alistair Ryle, the toff with a chip on his shoulder.
Taking our call on a break in Spain, Tyger is using his holiday to learn his lines. “I’ve been doing lot of work on it, and getting the lines set in stone,” he says. Tyger, 23, says he is committed to giving his stage debut all he can – and admits to some nerves ahead of the tour, which starts in Oxford on 3 September and comes to the Rose Theatre from 15 to 19 October.
The actor is best known for his role in the hit TV show Outnumbered, which he co-starred in alongside Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner, and pretty much saw him growing up on screen, running from 2007 to 2014. Picked by a talent scout while in a school play at his primary school, Danes Hill in Oxshott, Tyger played the role of Jake in the series from the age of nine.
“It all started on stage for me really but yeah, I am nervous about the play. It’s my stage debut in a professional theatre. So I’m nervous – not in an absolute terror way but a few butterflies for sure. I can feel that motivation in me that once we start rehearsing I’ll be giving it my all.”
“I loved the script so I really wanted to do it and I’m putting in the hard work so I can do as well in the role as possible. As good as I am, and I believe I am good, I have stuff to learn.”
His acting CV includes the role of Dylan in BBC3’s Cuckoo and some film work, but he was keen to get into theatre. “I work with a lot of thesps who have said you aren’t a proper actor until you have trodden the boards,” laughs Tyger.
Tyger, whose parents, Simon Honey and Linzi Drew, were stars of adult movies, grew up in leafy Surrey. He describes a childhood of “nice schools and nice holidays”, and acting for the love it. “There was never any financial pressure to do it, although that’s different now with my own mortgage to pay in Weybridge!”
He has lots of close friends from his school days at Epsom College, although he did get ribbed at school for both his parents’ professions and his appearance on TV in Outnumbered. “It was the boys in sixth form that teased me about what my parents did, and my friends would tease if I’d had only a fleeting appearance on screen that week – it wasn’t malicious though.”
Surrey Born and Bred
The actor loves Surrey and has not been enticed to the capital. “I am a Surrey boy through and through,” he says. “I love the sense of community but you can also get to London in half an hour so it is the best of both worlds. You can hop on the train and get the anonymity of London or pop down the road to the shops and bump into loads of people you know.”
A keen golfer, Tyger enjoys the courses on our doorstep and he also loves walking on Epsom Downs and Pyrford Lock.
So after Posh, what’s next for the actor? Another Christmas special of Outnumbered could be a possibility. “We do see [the show’s creators] Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin fairly often so we may well do another, although there is nothing in the diary.”
“I’m focusing hard on Posh, I’m also doing some nice voice work for an animation, and I’ve been going for some big auditions. I’ve got my head screwed on now and ready for some hard graft.”
Written by Laura Wade, Posh was first performed in 2010 to great acclaim, and in 2014, it was made into a film, The Riot Club.
The story is inspired by Oxford dining clubs like The Bullingdon Club, which was founded as a cricket club in 1780 but soon became known for raucous behaviour, drunken antics and trashing rooms and restaurants wherever the group went. The official garb features a blue tailcoat, with the whole ensemble costing over £3k.
Its reputation has been described as ‘toxic’ and members today are reported to number only a handful, if they exist at all.
In 2018, the Oxford University Conservative Association put it on its list of proscribed organisations.
Boris Johnson has claimed he was “embarrassed” he was a member. He is quoted as referring to it as “a truly shameful vignette of almost superhuman undergraduate arrogance, toffishness and twittishness”.