Robson Green tells the truth about him and Jerome - and talks about his latest role.
Grafters: Robson and Jerome were a showbiz sensation, just a step away from world domination, then it all went pear-shaped.
Just as they were at their peak as a double act, Robson Green and Jerome Flynn had their first terrible taste of failure.
Their war-time comedy, Ain't Misbehavin', in which they played members of a big band, hit the wrong note.
It was almost universally panned by critics and that was the end of the seemingly all- conquering partnership. The double act dissolved just as quickly as it had soared to the top.
In the past two years they haven't seen or even spoken to each other.
The good times had rolled when the squaddies from ITV drama series Soldier, Soldier became an overnight pop phenomenon.
After hitting No 1 with Unchained Melody, they were the hottest act in the nation. They shared a pounds 2 million record deal, starred on the Royal Variety Show and made their mark in the Guinness Book Of Records.
In less than a week, their album sold 483,000 copies - the fastest-selling album ever in the UK.
This was a partnership that looked solid gold. But after their TV flop, they went their separate ways ... Robson to award-winning success in the sexy romance Reckless and the psycho drama Touching Evil, while Jerome vanished from the showbiz scene.
Now Robson, who has a pounds 1.75 million deal with ITV, is starring with Stephen Tompkinson of Ballykissangel fame in a new ITV series titled Grafters.
Robson and Tompkinson play a pair of chancers who con a couple into thinking that they are capable of carrying out a major renovation job on their house.
For the ITV series Robson had to shimmy up ladders and perch high on a rooftop, doing a spot of tiling. It was pure acting because, as he confessed with a grin, he's a hopeless handyman.
"I lost three hammers during filming. At school I got a woodwork `O' Level, but I was useless. All I made was the handle for a trowel.
"I'm absolutely hopeless at DIY. My wife would not allow me to do it at home. You pay people to get it right.
"My first and last attempt was when my younger brother David and I we were kids and decided to cheer up our mother by decorating a room. We painted the walls and couldn't understand why they looked so dry and shining. It was because we had used gloss. So we put fablon on top. It all crinkled up. When mum saw the mess we got a thrashing."
Brother David is a scaffolder and his reaction was laughter when Robson told him he was doing Grafters.
"He is a big, muscular guy, with hands like shovels. I know I don't have the look of a builder, which is why we have gone for a relationship-driven drama. David's only bit of advice was to look as if you knew what you were doing."
Which meant appearing relaxed - even though he was pertified - 50 feet up on the roof.
"It was very high up and with no safety net, darling," he laughs. "That was my first and last stunt. I was scared. I slide down ladders that is about it. I'm really not inclined to do stunts."
As Robson prepared for the latest stage in his busy career, he also recalled his brief and bitter taste of failure and his split with Jerome.
The 34-year-old Geordie, who lives with Alison, his wife of seven years, in a Northumberland mansion, admitted he had heard all the rumours ... that he and Jerome split up after a fall-out following and that the row was over money.
"We haven't spoken for a long time - and that's purely because Jerome stopped acting and went off to India, for spiritual reasons, to do his own thing. And I kept on acting," said Robson, sipping a cup of milky coffee.
"I have only been asked once before if we had a fall-out, and it is understandable that people should think that.
"We were seen as this very close relationship and suddenly it no longer existed. But what happened was Jerome just went off in one direction and I went in another.
"Now I think he's back from India. I just heard he has handed a big job."
It's an indication of how far apart they've grown that Robson was unsure of what his former closest pal was up to. So it's obvious that Jerome's return from his travels out East doesn't mean a re-establishment of the duo.
"But the friendship, hopefully, is still there - if we ever meet again," said Robson.
The end of their working together was unexpected but quitting the pop scene was always part of the plan. The only reason they'd made records was to make cash to fund acting projects.
"We knew what we were doing," grinned Robson. "Earning pounds 2 million net does a lot of things for you and that was the objective of the singing. We wanted to make bucketloads of money - to pay for other things - and we did."
He's amazed that the pop industry continues to try and tempt him to stretch his vocal chords again.
"It happens all the time. The first thing I was asked when I signed to do Reckless was whether I'd sing the signature tune. No way! I know I could never balance acting and singing."
While the pop exercise went like clockwork for the twosome, they got their fingers burned with their production debut, Ain't Misbehavin'.
Problems had begun with the script, then - to keep the production on course - Robson and Jerome had to provide an extra pounds 500,000, money which looked to be heading down the drain.
The intention had been to make a two-hour TV movie. Instead they had four and a half hours worth, which couldn't be cut to the original time slot.
Robson explained: "America wanted to buy a two-hour package, which was partly where we were to get our money back. But a two-hour version wouldn't have made sense. We tried and it didn't. Luckily a deal was done in the USA to sell them a three part version, so that saved our bacon."
Robson still regards the version eventually broadcast as a career low point.
"Nobody liked it. I watched it and still didn't know what it was about. It was the first time I had got bad reviews and it felt awful.
"We had a great cast ... Warren Mitchell, Jim Carter and Jane Lapotaire. How could we mess up with actors like that? But it just did not work."
Robson was so embarrassed by Ain't Misbehavin' that he called in favours from the ITV bosses and ensured his two other starring roles, in Reckless and Touching Evil were seen first. His argument was simple, if Ain't Misbehavin' was broadcast first the viewing figures for the other two dramas would suffer.
"So people saw two quality dramas and then a bit of a duffer," he said.
He's philosophical about the experience. He says he has learned that the script is the most important part of any project and that has to be right before you get the cameras rolling.
But Robson also revealed that failure made him fear for his career prospects.
"I have never admitted this before, but that was the only time I have been really worried about my career," he said. "So when I read Touching Evil I knew I had to do it because it was so different."
Now he has his schedule worked out to beyond the Millennium. He is to produce, but not appear in, a drama about men wrongly imprisoned on charges of derailing the Flying Scotsman during the 1926 General Strike. Then there's a TV movie titled Rockin' Thomas about the rise and fall of a nine-year-old pop genius.
And finally Robson will cut a dash in The Last Musketeer, a drama about a fencing champion who trains a girls school team.
"Can I fence? You should see me with a tin of creosote, mate," he joked.
"Seriously I'll have to get into some serious training for that, hard work-outs and a fat-free diet.
"It's set in Glasgow but fortunately I won't have to attempt a Scots accent - I'm not very good at that - because my character comes from Sheffield."
ROBSON TURNS DOWN POP RELAUNCH ? (04/04/2007)
Robson turns down pop relaunch?It sounds as if Robson’s had enough of the charts.
Robson Green has apparently turned down the opportunity to relaunch his 90s pop duo with a new partner.
The Geordie – who topped the charts when he was half of Robson And Jerome – was reportedly asked to record a single with Mark Benton, his partner from the City Lights and Northern Lights series.
According to the Daily Express, execs thought the comedy duo would have as much success as the Soldier Soldier pair, who had hits with Unchained Melody and Up On The Roof.
Despite the tempting offer, it seems Robson and Mark said no.
Mark said: “We happened to sing House Of Fun by Madness in our show. This got some record company people thinking that we should release it. They were telling us, ‘You could have a No 1 single with this,’ but Robson wasn’t keen. He didn’t want to go for it.”
Robson is quoted as saying: “I have had lots of offers to record again but I don’t think I need to help Simon Cowell make more millions do I ?”
SIMON COWELL 'HARRASSED' ROBSON GREEN'S MOTHER (19/05/2013)
Simon Cowell may have given Robson Green a hit single in the '90's but the actor is no fan of his former label boss' love of cosmetic surgery nor how he pestered his mother.
Robson Green joined forces with his 'Soldier Soldier' acting pal, Jerome Flynn, on a cover version of 'Unchained Melody' which Green didn't want to sing.
"I didn’t want to sing. I was already being paid a fortune for what I was doing but Simon wouldn’t let it go. He was pestering my mother all the time, wanting me to sing that bloody song with Jerome.
"I got a lawyer to stop him ringing her, then I called him myself and told him, “If you do it again I will take this to court. This is harassment.
"Then Simon said, 'Can I just say, I will give you THIS amount of money if you record the song.' The amount was in seven figures ....... of course I said 'yes'."
Soldiering on to be top of the pops.
Andy Beckett tells how Robson and Jerome came to rival the Beatles in the Christmas nostalgia stakes.
Robson Green and Jerome Flynn are nice lads. They've got firm jaws, soft eyes, clean shirts, and reassuring imperfections. Robson is a bit short; Jerome has a big nose; together, they joke and scrap and blunder like mates on any high street.
But there is quite a market for these particular nice lads. For the last four years more than 15 million people have watched them play tough but cheeky squaddies on Soldier Soldier, making it the most popular programme on television after soap operas and the lottery.
This year, Robson and Jerome's first single, a polite version of the Sixties standard "Unchained Melody", has sold 1.8 million copies, making it the biggest-selling single of the decade.
Their album, a polite set of Sixties standards, has kept the Beatles' new compilation in an ignominious second place ever since it was released. Robson and Jerome, who are 30 and 32, have a number one video too, and a half-hour special to come on ITV on Christmas Day, when, the bookies forecast, their current single "I Believe" will also return to the number one slot.
One explanation for all this was on offer at a Woolworth's branch in north London last Thursday. An elderly lady from Hackney called Irene was arguing with her husband beside the shelves of tapes and compact discs.
She was holding a tape of the Robson and Jerome album; he was hesitating about letting her buy it.
"But it's got 'Unchained Melody' on it," she said. He examined the back of the cassette carefully, like a new and unfamiliar object. Christmas shoppers swept around them. After a long pause, he agreed. She took the tape to the cash till with a slight skip.
"We don't normally buy many tapes," she said afterwards.
"I just fancied that one. You can hear what they're singing. What they have on Top of the Pops is just rubbish - they're just shouting." She buttoned up her faded green mackintosh: "And I've got the originals of all these from the Sixties."
There are lots of people like Irene. A fifth of the singles sold last year were bought by people over 45, Gallup reports.
Andy Blake, lecturer in cultural studies at the University of East London, is writing a book about this forgotten audience and its ability to create huge hits. "Buying pop records is no longer seen as a phase," he says.
"As we get an ageing population who've lived through the whole history of pop, this nostalgic buying of light music may happen more and more. A middle-of-the-road figure whose work is normally on Radio 2 can jump into the mainstream."
Robson and Jerome made their leap with careful timing last summer. "Unchained Melody" first surfaced in an episode of Soldier Soldier, sung bashfully by the two squaddies when the band failed to turn up for a friend's wedding. It was polished up by the commercial pop experts Mike Stock and Matt Aitken.
"We called it 'Unchanged Melody', because we sped the original up a bit and put them on it," says Stock.
An outpouring of wartime nostalgia, 50 years after the Second World War ended in Europe, then made the record nearly irresistible: Vera Lynn's "White Cliffs of Dover" was re-recorded as the B-side, and the whole package was released on VE Day with a video including clips from the classic Forties film Brief Encounter.
Radio 1 ignored the two songs as schmaltz, but it made no difference to their success. As Stock puts it: "Soldier Soldier gets bigger ratings than the whole of Radio 1."
In October Robson and Jerome added a video autobiography to their armoury.
Robson was filmed revisiting his native North-east, talking about his father's life down the pit and his own years at the Swan Hunter shipyard. Jerome explained how he got his broken nose.
Robson and Jerome's records are reputedly favourites in army barracks across the country. Many millions are waiting to see them do their laddish little dance on Christmas Day. And yet these boys are not quite what they seem.
Robson's father, it turns out, has passed on to him a great affection for Arthur Scargill. The rugged-faced Jerome actually learned to act at Rada, and lives among the crusties and trendy teachers of Hackney.
And there's more. Jerome is critical of Shell, gives thousands of pounds to Greenpeace, and wants to make documentaries about dolphins.
Robson calls himself a socialist and distrusts Tony Blair. Off-screen, he says, they hug regularly and tell each other: "I love you."
"They're actually luvvies," says Mark Simpson, a gay critic who is rather a fan. "The people who buy their records tend to forget that."
Another thing may escape them too: if there were a war, our favourite squaddies would not wave guns and stare resolutely as they do on television. They are pacifists.
IT'S THE triumph of marketing over music - the Instant Number One. After decades of trying, record companies have finally found they can manufacture at will singles that enter the charts - like Robson and Jerome's latest - at the top.
Today music fans will discover whether the Beatles' new record "Free As A Bird" has gone straight to number one after its release on Monday.
By midweek, the pop trade's own indicators showed it was heading there - a feat that would make it the sixth song in a row to debut in the top slot.
This year has seen an extraordinary domination of the charts by instant hits. Of the 16 number ones so far, 11 have gone straight to the pole position.
If the Beatles leap to the top, they will have knocked out Michael Jackson's "Earth Song", which went straight to the same slot last week.
Jacko himself had snatched the position from Robson and Jerome, who produced an instant chart-topper with their remake of the Bachelors' song "I Believe".
So how has the record industry achieved such success this year? They certainly seem to have won back their customers. Singles sales, predicted to be dwindling towards oblivion only a couple of years ago, are booming. From the low point in mid- 1992 they have increased by a third to nearly 69 million a year.
Acts as diverse as Robson and Jerome, Take That and Oasis have all played a part.
But selling singles is far more than putting good-looking people with a catchy tune and an ability to sing into a recording studio. This is an industry using sophisticated selling and marketing techniques to shift its products.
And more importantly, these products are the soundbites and adverts for far more profitable goods - CD albums.
Record companies today can manipulate the market with a remarkable degree of ease. Tracks are released to radio stations for a couple of weeks before the official release date, ensuring interest is built up.
Then the marketing men encourage saturation coverage via press articles and advertisements, as well as discounting sales. The result: a surge in sales which propels the song to the top.
The Radio 1 disc jockey Mark Goodier, who presents the chart countdown, is one of many in the music industry concerned about the impact these sales campaigns are having.
"I personally would like the record companies to market the chart less," he said. "I think it would give what most of us perceive as quality music a better chance."
Alan Jones, of the trade paper Music Week, said there had been more number one new entries in the Nineties than in the previous 30 years.
"I don't think having an ever-revolving door is necessarily attractive for the chart," he added. "I think it cheapens it.
"If a record goes in and stays there that's different. But if they are going in at number one and then dropping immediately, sometimes several places, it can be harmful. It makes it seem like the chart is a lottery."
Such is the demand for instant hits that the average lifespan of a chart single is now just four weeks. And if a record doesn't make the Top 40 in its first week, it's as good as dead.
But Mr Jones believes the high turnover chart may be temporary. With the music media becoming more specialised, he forecasts record companies will not be able to reach the same huge audiences immediately.
Songs will chart lower, on the basis of exposure to one audience, and then pick up sales as others latch on.
"The fragmented media means you can't reach the same number of people at the same time," he said.
"It will be harder to achieve huge instant sales and then we will go back to the position where singles climb to number one."
The Independent, Andy Beckett and Nick Varley, 10 December 1995
The fake factor: Robson and Jerome may have made Cowell's name ... but they needed help to hold a tune.
On the X Factor, Simon Cowell makes a fortune out of telling people they can't sing.
Yet we can reveal that the stars who helped make his name, Robson and Jerome, themselves proved a little lacking in the vocal department.
An additional three singers had to be used to keep the pair in tune on their first hit, Unchained Melody.
As well as kick-starting Cowell's flagging career, the song became an overnight sensation after actors Robson Green and Jerome Flynn performed it in 1995 during an episode of the military drama Soldier, Soldier.
It raced to the top of the charts and became the biggest-selling single of the decade.
Unchained Melody, previously a hit for Jimmy Young, the Righteous Brothers and many more, was number one for seven weeks, sold 1.8million copies and raked in £17million for the record company BMG.
When Cowell persuaded the actors to perform it, a string of bad business decisions had left him living with his parents.
But its success transformed him into one of the world's most powerful music executives and helped him launch Pop Idol and X Factor, the latest series of which finished last weekend.
Now legendary producer Mike Stock - of hit-makers Stock Aitken Waterman fame - has broken his silence to reveal the truth about how he hired session singer Des Dyer and two others to assist Robson and Jerome.
'Des Dyer was brought in to assist with the Jerome part - because his voice and Jerome's were similar,' he said. 'The Robson part was done by a totally different singer and the high note was a totally different guy.'
He added, however: 'Robson and Jerome came into the studio and we did the vocals together. So they are singing on the record without a shadow of a doubt.
'In all sorts of recording contexts you have to look at the vocal and if it's not quite right you have to put it right. In this case we employed some backing singers to help repair some aspects of the vocal.
'It wasn't about being great singers. I've worked with loads of pop stars where the singing side of their attributes was the least important.
'The way they look, the way they were, the things they represented were sometimes more important to the man in the street.'
Des Dyer, now 60, failed to benefit financially from the hit and now lives in a modest £300,000 detached house in Northampton.
Stock, considered the most successful producer of all time with 100 top 40 UK hits, has admitted having a gagging order placed on Dyer after he threatened to reveal his role, saying 'it was going to blow the whole project apart'.
Dyer's wife Janice said: 'It was the kiss of death for him. We were going to get done if he spoke about it. I'm not saying anything more. We don't want to lose our house.'
Robson and Jerome went on to sell a total of 15million singles, albums and videos. At no point since their music careers ended has either man revealed the truth about their lack of singing prowess.
They have both now returned to acting full-time. Green now stars in the ITV series Wire in the Blood, while Flynn has been in several films including Best, in which he played footballer Bobby Charlton.
Simon Cowell, who is now worth £110million, talks about working with Robson Green and Jerome Flynn in his autobiography, I Don't Mean To Be Rude ... But.
He recalls: 'They made me my first million, which was fantastic, not necessarily because of the money but because for the very first time people began to take me seriously.'
Yesterday Cowell's spokesman Max Clifford said he could not be contacted as he was on holiday in Barbados.
MailOnline, Richard Simpson, 20 December 2008
NO HARMONY FOR ROBSON AND JEROME (09/10/2008)
WHEN Robson Green and Jerome Flynn were called on to sing Unchained Melody in an episode of ITV’s hit Nineties military drama series Soldier, Soldier, it spawned one of the hottest pop acts around.
Simon Cowell masterminded its release as a single after huge public demand and it raced to the top of the charts in 1995.
But after a couple more hits Robson and Jerome, as they were billed, went their separate ways, determined to turn their backs on the pop world for ever.
Not only that but they have turned their backs on each other, too, it seems.
“I haven’t seen Jerome for years,” says Wire In The Blood star Robson. “I don’t know what he’s doing. In fact, I have him filed under Where Are They Now ?”
Robson & Jerome was my personal Vietnam, says Robson Green.
Robson Green has described his time as part of Robson & Jerome as his "personal Vietnam".
The Grantchester and Strike Back actor scored three UK number one singles as part of the duo with Game of Thrones star Jerome Flynn in the mid-1990s. The chart-toppers mark their 20th anniversary in 2015.
Robson Green talks 'living the dream' for new series Ultimate Catch
"I don't sing anymore," he told Digital Spy. "The singing came from a drama, and hey, what do you know, I'm in the Guinness Book of Records for the fastest-selling single - not many actors or presenters could say that!
"Therapy got me out of it - it's my own personal Vietnam! - so if it's the 20th anniversary, it's something that happened a long time ago."
He continued: "The good thing with the music is we knew when to stop. There was a programme, Animal Hospital, a woman brings in two guinea pigs called Robson & Jerome, and when asked, 'What seems to be the problem with the guinea pigs?', she said, 'It's Robson, he's not right'. That was the moment where it felt this was not good karma."
Robson & Jerome were created by Simon Cowell after they appeared in ITV drama Soldier, Soldier. They scored number ones with covers of 'Unchained Melody', 'I Believe' and 'Saturday Night at the Movies'.
'Unchained Melody' was the best-selling single of 1995, shifting an estimated 1,840,000 copies.
Tom Eames, 20 Janvier 2015
ROBSON & JEROME CELEBRATE 20 YEARS : 10 THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW
It is two decades this year that Robson & Jerome became the most unlikely of chart stars in the UK.
Robson Green and Jerome Flynn managed to score several number one singles in the mid-1990s with covers of old classics.
After Robson told Digital Spy that he doesn't look back at his singing career too fondly, we thought it would be a good time to look back at the duo's short-lived but massively successful music career.
1. Yes, that is Bronn from Game of Thrones
Let's get this out of the way. To this day, we still have chats with people who had no idea that the double 'ard Bronn and Jerome off Robson & Jerome are the same person.
Who would have thought that Jerome would become such a badass? He also currently plays gruff Bennet Drake in Ripper Street.
2. The partnership began in Soldier, Soldier
Green and Flynn (it feels weird calling them that) had starred in ITV period drama Soldier, Soldier since 1991, before one episode saw them performing 'Unchained Melody' together.
If this happened today, the Righteous Brothers version would probably just rise up the charts via downloads. But, baby boomers in their droves demanded an official CD release, and they got one via...
3. It was Simon Cowell's fault
A then-unknown music executive called Simon Cowell instantly put together contracts for the pair to record a studio version of 'Unchained Melody', capitalising on the 'fan of Heartbeat' target audience.
Robson isn't too fond of Cowell today, after the TV judge's authorised biography had its fair share of negative comments about their work together. Plus, Green's second wife was Cowell's former assistant Vanya Seager. The pair have one son together, and separated in 2011.
4. They have one of the best-selling singles of all time
Their version of 'Unchained Melody' is in the top 20 of the best-selling songs ever, shifting a staggering 1.8 million copies in 1995. It also spent seven weeks at number one.
So, in a year full of new Oasis, Take That and Michael Jackson songs, Robson & Jerome were by far the best-selling act. Their second single 'I Believe'/'Up on the Roof' was also number one for four weeks.
5. Geeky chart fact alert
Robson & Jerome are the only act in UK chart history to score a number one with a 'Triple A-side' single.
We're not quite sure how the vinyl and cassette copies would have worked, but 'What Becomes of the Brokenhearted'/'Saturday Night at the Movies'/'You'll Never Walk Alone' had two weeks at the top in 1996, making it their final chart entry, keeping their 100% number one record intact.
6. Their albums were also pretty darn popular
Don't think it was just the singles that your gran went out and bought, as Robson & Jerome's two studio albums both topped the chart.
Robson & Jerome was also the 1995 Christmas number one, while Take Two settled for the festive number two spot. Both albums were full of cover versions of classic tunes.
7. They kept some amazing tunes off number one
1995 was quite a good year for pop. We had 'Back for Good', 'Kiss From a Rose' and 'Gangsta's Paradise' for a start. But there were a handful of great tracks that were denied a deserved number one by Robson & Jerome.
Pulp's 'Common People', U2's 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me', Perez Prado's 'Guaglione' and Oasis's 'Wonderwall' were criminally denied number one positions in 1995.
8. Jerome had to stop being a monk to make his comeback
If you wondered where Flynn was between Robson & Jerome and Game of Thrones, then it was because he lived a largely reclusive life at a dilapidated farm in Pembrokeshire, while becoming a member of controversial guru Andrew Cohen's organisation.
He eventually left the group several years later, describing it as "a very intense spiritual life, equivalent to being a monk for eight years".
9. Robson Green is now one of the best anglers around
Since Soldier, Soldier and Robson & Jerome, Green has steadily starred in a number of successful TV dramas, including Strike Back, Wire in the Blood, Grantchester and Waterloo Road.
He has also hosted a series of angling documentaries including Extreme Fishing and brand new show Ultimate Catch, showing off his genuinely impressive fishing skills in the process.
10. There's a chance Jerome didn't sing much on the records
In 2008, producer Mike Stock claimed that the pair, particularly Flynn, didn't sing large portions of their songs.
In true Milli Vanilli style, they were replaced or patched with uncredited singers to reach the higher notes. He said: "Des Dyer was brought in to assist with the Jerome part - because his voice and Jerome's were similar. The Robson part was done by a totally different singer and the high note was a totally different guy."