SPARTACUS: Our son's battle with cancer and rise to fame


Geraint Jones

THE parents of Spartacus star Andy Whitfield have spoken of their son’s battle with cancer and Hollywood success.

Andy Whitfield, of Bull Bay, Amlwch, was diagnosed with non-Hogkins lymphoma earlier this year, which threatened filiming of the second series of the smash television show Spartacus in which Andy stars as the title character.

His parents Robert and Pat Whitfield flew out to 35-year-old Andy’s home in Sydney, Australia to support him, his wife Vashti and their two children when they heard the news.

“We weren’t quite sure what we were going to find, but he was full of health, bright and bouncy,” said Robert.

“In a peculiar way the treatment has more of a physical effect than the tumour -  it knocks it out of you when you have chemotherapy.”

He added that the family held stayed positive throughout the actor’s battle with cancer.

“It was the only way to deal with the issue, there was no point going silly and thinking the worst,” he said.

The cancer is in remission and  filming on the second series, to be shown next year, is underway.

In the show, shown on Bravo in the UK, Andy stars as the legendary warrior forced to become a gladiator when a Roman general destroys his village and kidnaps his wife in revenge for a Thracian rebellion.

Mr Whitfield, who worked as an engineer at Wylfa for 33 years, met Andy’s co-stars John Hannah and Lucy Lawless during filming for the first series.

“They were all very nice,” he said. “What you see on screen is the acting and the hard edge of it - they’re not going around hitting each other,

Mr and Mrs Whitfield moved to Anglesey from Lancashire when Andy was four years old.

The former Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones pupil showed a keen interest in football, turning out for Amlwch Town’s youth sides.

Andy moved to Sydney in 1999 to work as an engineer on the Olympic stadium while doing part time acting and modelling work.

He later found success on Australian TV show MacLoed’s Daughters and the supernatural thriller Gabriel.

Mr Whitfield said interest in Andy and the show was high among Amlwch residents.

“When I go out people ask about him, say they saw the last episode or they went to school with him,” he said ”I think that in a sense it’s perked Amlwch up a bit.”

Critics have hailed the show a success despite concerns from pressure group Mediawatch over the amount of sex and violence on screen.

Mr Whitfield took criticism of the show with a pinch of salt

“Whatever you do, whether you’re a politician, businessman or an actor, people will always have positive and negative reactions,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me one way or the other.”

Mr Whitfield said that he has seen the first ten episodes of the show and has enjoyed the series so far.

“It’s not our sort of entertainment really but once we got through a few episodes we started to forget it was our son in it and started to get engrossed in the plot.

“We ten to be quite reserved about it, but I have a quiet admiration for him."

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