Emma Samms: Should you meet your heroes?

autograph signing

'I say DO meet your heroes as it might tell you a few things about yourself' - Credit: Getty Images

Who needs LA when your heart is in the Cotswolds?

They say you should never meet your heroes but with the exception of Donny Osmond, who I was absolutely mad about when I was ten years old, I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of mine. I say ‘lucky’ because, in the most part, these experiences were actually rather wonderful, and any disappointment was in myself and not in those I idolised. 

Ever since I saw Sir Matthew Bourne’s production of Swan Lake, I’ve been in awe of his stunning, innovative choreography and meeting him was a dream come true. Unfortunately, other than stumbling out a few words of how ‘great’ I thought he was, I was pretty much struck dumb by his presence. He was very nice about this, because he’s probably quite used to such hero-worship, but I wasn’t happy with the inarticulate mess I had become.  

Similarly, the star of his Swan Lake, Adam Cooper, was so supremely talented that any words of mine addressing that seemed facile and pointless, so I gave up fairly early on in our first encounter. Luckily, I ended up working with him which not only enhanced my admiration of him (he was a joy to each and every one of the company) but it gave me time to get over myself and actually express my appreciation of his skills. 

Weirdly, meeting one of my favourite authors, David Nicholls, had quite the opposite effect on me and I didn’t stop talking the whole time we sat and had lunch together. Having just voraciously read all of his books, I stupidly gushed about every little detail that I’d enjoyed, barely giving him a chance to respond. Driving home, I really kicked myself for missing out on such a golden opportunity to have learned more about him and his writing. 

Like most of my generation, I grew up watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang every Christmas (still do, as a matter of fact) so when I heard I had been asked to appear in an episode of the TV show Diagnosis Murder, starring the one and only Dick Van Dyke, I was over the moon. As with Adam Cooper, working with someone definitely helps one tone down the fan-girl reflex, and hopefully I was a professional co-worker for most of the production. I fear I let myself down on our last day on set together when I made him sing me all the songs from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I was in heaven. He probably hated it, but frankly I don’t care. It was glorious. 

Michael Crawford was another of my childhood heroes. Not because of The Phantom of the Opera as he hadn’t done that yet, and not because of Some Mothers Do Have ’Em, but because my sister Louise and I saw him on a West End stage in a musical called Billy and then pestered our parents to take us another couple of times because we loved it so much. We were both members of his official fan club and when we eventually met him, he couldn’t have been lovelier and, from what I remember, we both behaved with dignity and decorum. 

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An interesting aside, most of Michael Crawford’s American fans only became aware of him when he starred in Phantom as the brooding, troubled, romantic lead. If you show them episodes of Some Mothers Do Have ’Em it blows their mind. And not in a good way... 

Anyway, I say DO meet your heroes as it might tell you a few things about yourself. Oh, and if anyone knows Donny Osmond, please could you arrange a meeting? Even though it’s been 50 years, I’d be quite interested to see how I’d react. 

Follow Emma on Twitter: @EmmaSamms1