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Sherlock and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship Star, Rupert Graves Reflects on Mental Health Struggles

The actor Rupert Graves, known to Doctor Who viewers for playing Edwardian big game hunter Riddell in Series 7’s Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, has spoken openly about his mental health struggles as a teenager.

Speaking to the Big Issue, Graves disclosed that he struggled with his body image, feeling he felt he looked like a ‘big-handed, big-footed, misshapen-headed monster,’ and attempted suicide aged 15.

He said:

“If I could go back to just before I took the pills I’d probably just sit down and hold my younger self’s hand and say, ‘listen, I can help you through this. It will pass. And while you’re waiting for it to pass, just try and be kind to yourself, and hyper-aware of what’s happening. You feel overwhelmed, but rather than giving up, stand up and remain aware. Try to be generous to yourself. This amount of life coming at you, that’s when you can actually learn’.”

Graves went on to build a successful acting career, with early film appearances in period dramas A Room with a View, Maurice, and A Handful of Dust. He’s appeared in some of the most successful television dramas of recent decades including Spooks, Waking the Dead, and Scott and Bailey but is perhaps best known for playing Detective Inspector Lestrade in the BBC’s Sherlock from 2010 to 2017.

May 9-15 2022 sees Mental Health Awareness Week, when people are asked to focus on achieving good mental health, and has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally. This year’s theme is tackling loneliness, which is one of the key indicators of poor mental health, with research showing that being connected to other people in a way that helps us feel valued is absolutely fundamental to protecting our mental health. Long-term feelings of loneliness have also been shown to be associated with higher rates of mortality and poorer physical health outcomes.

Find our more at Mental Health Awareness Week. You can read the full Rupert Graves interview at Big Issue.

Jonathan Appleton

A regular Doctor Who viewer since Pertwee fought maggots and spiders, Jonathan isn't about to stop now. He considers himself lucky to have grown up in an era when Doctor Who, Star Trek and Blakes 7 could all be seen on primetime BBC1. As well as writing regularly for The Doctor Who Companion he's had chapters included in a couple of Blakes 7 books.

Sherlock and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship Star, Rupert Graves Reflects on Mental Health Struggles

by Jonathan Appleton time to read: 1 min
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