Actor,Peter Keleghan has been leading a successful career within the Canadian and American television industry.Born in Montreal,Peter has been described by the Toronto Star in 2003 as “the funniest man in Canada” and has also been bestowed with four Gemini awards over the course of his career.Peter’s lengthy experience as an actor can specifically be seen from various television credits including Newsroom,The Red Green Show and Seinfield.
Peter’s more recent role is on CBC’S 18 To Life as the intimidating yet conservative judge and father ,Ben Bellow.The show which recently aired its final season,involves two middle class neighbors with opposing viewpoints who are forced to unite as family when their 18 year olds, Tom Bellow[Michael Seater] and Jessie Hill [Stacey Farber] run off and get married.
Additionally,Peter will be appearing in Little Mosque the Prairie’s impending sixth and final season as the true love of Mayor Popowicx[ Debra McGrath].With Peter being kind enough to participate in an interview with me and Little Mosque approaching its sixth season, we discuss the background of Peter’s character on the show, the circumstances which draw the Mayor and his character together, the number of episodes in which he will appear in for the season, the challenges which the couple will face and more!
With 18 to Life having recently concluded in its recent second and final season, we discuss Peter’s reaction on the show’s cancellation and the factors which he think led to its end. Peter also reflects on Ben’s growth over the course of the show, reflects on the suitability of the way in which the show ended as well as offering his final message to fans of the show.
Peter also takes the opportunity to share details on some of his other current projects,his career aspirations and plans as well as the actor’s perspective on the value of Canadian television towards the North American entertainment industry.Read our exclusive interview with the actor,below.
Abbas Karimjee:You play Mayor Ann Popowicx’s [Debra McGrath] true love in the impending sixth and final season of Little Mosque on the Prairie.Could you please reveal your character’s name and provide some details on his background?
Peter Keleghan:My character is Charles Thorne and is literally a thorn in the side of his younger brother Rev. William Thorne. I take great pleasure in calling him Billy! He first appears as a Canada Revenue auditor to audit the town of Mercy.He says he is there because of his little brother but soon Ann Popowicz usurps all of his attention.This despite he is already engaged!
AK: Could you please give us a brief idea of what draws both Mayor Popwicz and your character together?
PK:Well, honestly? Sex initially. After a while they are inseparable. Soul mates. Charles breaks off his engagement and proposes to Ann.
AK:How many episodes will you be appearing in for the sixth season of Little Mosque on the Prairie?
AK: What are some of the challenges which the two will face over the course of the sixth season of Little Mosque on the Prairie?
PK:The major dilemma is Charles’ engagement. Billy, I mean William, tries to undermine his love for Anne calling him a cad. They are like feuding young brothers —quite funny actually.
AK:Are there any other plot points regarding the relationship, which you are able to reveal?
PK: Do they get married? Stay tuned!
AK: Are there any other main characters on Little Mosque, with whom your character will have notable interactions with?
PK:I really just deal with William and Anne ,however Zaib’s Imam character helps us figure things out between our fragmented relationship.
AK:Little Mosque is currently in its sixth and final season. Could you please briefly describe the experience of joining the team in the final season and any challenges which were involved?
PK:I felt like a party-crasher to be honest. I was embraced whole-heartedly which is a testament to the wonderfully giving nature of the production and especially the producers and cast. I came in at their 11th hour and still had sorrow when it was over. Not like they must have of course, but it was a lovely set to work on.
AK:As an experienced Canadian artist, what are your thoughts on how Little Mosque has represented Canadian culture, given that it is the first of its kind, in terms of building bridges between the Muslim community and western society?
PK:The more ways we can find ways to bring us together in this world the better. This show was certainly a fun and funny way to bridge the gap between unfamiliar religions
AK: You have previous experience of portraying relationships, particularly in CBC’S 18 To Life, as Ben Bellow, a right-wing conservative judge who was married to a Jewish character, Judith [Ellen David].
How has such previous experience allowed you to enhance your performance in this role on Little Mosque and how is the relationship of Ben and Judith different from your character on Little Mosque’s relationship with Mayor Popowicz?
PK:The mayor and Charles have a tumultuous relationship. Charles is certainly no conservative! The trick with playing all relationships is to have honest good feelings for each other. To help with this, in 18-Life, I actually dated Ellen David in university, (I grew up in Montreal) and in Little Mosque, Deb and I have been good friends for about 25 years.
AK: Let’s discuss the recent second and final season of 18 To Life. What was your initial reaction when you discovered the show has been cancelled and what factors do you think resulted in the series cancellation?
PK:It was a big disappointment when it was cancelled. Other shows that were not as well rated or reviewed were picked up and we weren’t, so it was very frustrating. I thought Montreal looked fabulous in the show and it is hard to imagine why it was not renewed for at least one more season –if only to prove it had legs. People seemed genuinely shocked to hear it was not renewed. It certainly has gotten more Gemini and Comedy Award nominations than most other Canadian series. The only explanation is that it was a financial decision.
AK: When 18 To Life first began, the character of Ben was quite upset with his son Tom’s, marriage with the girl next door, Jess , given that he had great hopes for his son’s future .Ben displayed his disapproval of the marriage in various ways, particularly when he drafted an annulment, in his failed attempt to end the marriage .How do you think Ben has developed over the course of the show and had 18 To Life continued, how else would you have liked for the character to develop?
PK:Ben certainly mellowed through the 2 years. However, the show needed the dramatic counterpoint to continue to be interesting. So he didn’t change THAT much!
AK:What are your thoughts on the suitability of the episode, House of Cards as an ending to the show?
PK:We were not prepared to realize that the show would not be picked up. It came as a shock to us so we did not have a series ending.
AK: On 18 To Life you had a main cast role for the show’s two seasons. How has working on the show impacted both your career as well as your personal life, in terms of the show’s central themes about family and love as well as the friendships which you formed?
PK:Honestly it has not. Ben could not be more opposite to me as a person. Politically and every other way. Charles on Mosque is also very different. It’s fun to play and expand. I’ve been told people enjoyed my performances, and that’s enough for me. It would be nice to see more Canadians watching Canadian shows however. We are being fed a constant diet of low brow food which I call ‘fast food culture’. Cheap, fast, glitzy and addictive—it is not about us – it’s American, and so it’s completely un-nutritious.
AK: In retrospect, how do you think the character of Ben and 18 To Life, in general will be remembered as?
PK: As a blow-hard, soft hearted, insecure, conservative father!
AK:With 18 To Life having drawn to end, what message would you like to convey to fans of the show?
PK:Sorry we didn’t do more of them. It would have been nice to have a proper ending to wrap things up. The show deserved at least that as did the fabulous Montreal crews and cast.
AK:As an experienced Canadian actor, you have also been involved in animated productions of various TV series including, Ned’s Newt and Ruby Gloom as well as productions such as Seinfeld, 18 To Life and Little Mosque on the Prairie. Which type of acting do you prefer to work in and what particular benefits are associated with your selection?
PK:I think most people see Canadian actors as being much more well-rounded performers because we have to be. There is work, but it pays much less. Something tells me that if I did 5 popular American series and had 4 Emmy awards, I could easily retire a rich man. Not so in Canada. It would be nice if Canada recognized it artists as much as it’s athletes. It’s the best country in the world in all other ways and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
AK:What current projects are you involved in or future aspirations do you have for your acting career?
PK:I helped start a credit union in Canada for artists called The Creative Arts Savings and Credit union. I’m on the board of directors and that takes a good chunk of time. Also I am currently shooting episodes of Republic Of Doyle, and my continuing character Terrence Myers on Murdoch Mysteries. In the fall I start shooting Sunshine Sketches – a story about Stephen Leacock in Canada in the 1920s which stars my father in law Gordon Pinsent as Leacock. I also hope to have my own series within a couple of years called The Factotum.
AK: What activities do you enjoy during your spare time?
PK:I love traveling with my wife Leah and we share our home life with a neurotic cocker spaniel named Higgins. I also collect antique wrist watches and fly small planes.