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From Thisisbristol.co.uk

Buffy samples some of Head’s home comfort

Thursday 23 January 2003, by Webmaster

Fans of cult US television smas Buffy the Vampire Slaye will soon be flocking to a village near Keynsham to pay homage to their favourite show Anthony Head, who plays the character of Giles in the show, invited a 40-strong production crew into his home in the village of Timsbury to film shots to use in the award-winning series.

Hollywood actress Alyson Hannigan, who plays Willow in Buff and played the band camp geek in the film American Pie, travelled to from sunny California to rainy England for the filming.

Buff creator Joss Whedon also flew to Timsbury for the shoot, but star of the show Sarah Michelle Gellar stayed behind in the US.

Tony said: "Joss suggested we use my place and I thought it might be fun. My only regret is the weather." During filming, Tony managed to remain laid back even though his house was crammed with strangers.

His daughters Daisy, aged 11, and Emily, 13, were thrilled to see their American friends from the show on home ground.

And if his long-term partner Sarah Fisher had doubts about the camera tracks laid down her hall, she kept them to herself.

Tony says it was Sarah’s patience which allowed him to reinvent himself as an actor after starring in the Nescafe Gold Blend adverts.

The ads may have paid for their idyllic house but they also made it hard for him to get other work in Britain.

But they did open doors in America and, as a result, Tony spent five years commuting between Britain and LA while Sarah stayed at home.

It meant almost nine months a year away from his family, but his role as Giles turned him into a star.

Tony said: "The only reason I’ve been able to do it is because of Sarah. She has been so tolerant.

"She was basically a single parent for six years but she was willing to do whatever it took to make it work.

There were a lot of phone calls and every time I had six days off I’d jump on a plane and come home.

"We put the girls in American schools for two months a couple of times and I did think about taking them over there permanently but I wouldn’t want to raise children in the US and I think the upheaval would unbalance the family more than my being away.

"It cost a lot of money and earned me a lot of air miles but my job gave me the luxury of being able to do everything we could to bridge the gap.

"And other people who have spouses on oil rigs or in the navy can’t just phone or get on a plane as I could.

"We made the best of it and it was extremely necessary. The dividend is that we are still together and have a good life." But Tony, aged 48, knew that bouncing back and forth would eventually take its toll.

The end came when his daughter Daisy made an innocent remark he found hard to ignore.

Tony said: "She said ’Daddy, you’ve been away more than half my life.’ It was an extraordinary adventure but Sarah and I said we’d know when it was time to end it and that was it. But I had another two years to go on my contract.

"I was lucky - rather than kill me off, they said I could be a recurring character so I got the best of both worlds." It seems that his decision to lessen his involvement in the series couldn’t have been better timed.

Speculation is rife that after this seventh season of Buff has been aired, the show will be axed amid falling ratings.

Despite his success in the States, Tony has never really made his mark in the UK in anything other than an advert.

He said: "I had no work lined up at all. Then I got home and found all these opportunities waiting."

They included BBC’s mid-life crisis comedy Manchild, which has been commissioned for a second series, and a couple of films still in spin-off featuring Giles and set in Britain. And he’s in the frame to play Dr Who if plans to bring back the Timelord come to fruition.

Whatever happens, Tony is clearly going to miss his friends from Buff.

In the show he offers wisdom and a guiding hand to Buff and her eager-to-learn gang, but before filming at his family home his daughters put him in his place and criticised the brown corduroy suit he has to wear for the episode.

Tony is the youngest son of actress Helen Shingler and documentary maker Seafield Head.

He had always wanted to be an actor.

Not surprisingly both of his girls have already hinted that they want to be actresses and have asked him to help them get roles in Buff.

Without doubt Sarah is the force behind Tony and is always there with encouragement and advice.

They met when he was aged 28 and she was an 18-year-old working as a theatre administrator. Now she’s an animal psychologist and can hone her skills on the family’s three horse, dog, a couple of cats and a guinea pig.

When Tony first moved to Los Angeles and was feeling sorry fo r himself, it was Sarah who suggested he take acting classes.

He said: "I was miserable and waiting to see if I’d get a TV series and Sarah suggested going to acting class to find out how they do it over there. I told her: ’I don’t need to, darling. I went to drama school. I trained’.

"But she said that I couldn’t afford to learn on the job and make errors, because people weren’t going to employ me.

"The day I signed up to acting class was the day I got Buff . But I still went to class every Saturday night, right until I came back. It’s one of the things I miss most." These days there are many multi-faceted stars, but Tony is now famous for both fighting vampires and selling coffee.

He said: "Actually, I didn’t sell coffee very well.

The adverts have two entries in US economics books - one for being the most recognised commercials of all time and the other for being rubbish at getting people to buy the product. It bumped up the sales of instant coffee but not specifically that brand."

The new series of Buffy The Vampire Slaye r is on Sky One on Thursdays at 8pm.