A Gentle Catholic Upbringing


Like the previous chapter, that I posted weeks ago, I’ll continue highlighting the more notable and inspiring moments in Martin Freeman’s life, and share personal quotes. If you missed the previous chapter, you can read it here: The Youngest of Five

Everything you’ll read here comes from Martin Freeman From Slough to Middle Earth!

Cardinal_newman_RC_schoolCardinal Newman Catholic Primary School above, the first school Martin Freeman would attend.

In the Freeman home, their Catholicism did not provide all pervading basis for the family’s lifestyle, but it was definitely part of what made the family tick.


Martin told Daily Mail in 2009 “My first moral touchstone was Jesus. So how about that for an uphill struggle? Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King – anything less than that and you’re failing.”


Given that children start school in the UK, the September following their fourth birthday, Martin most likely to have started at Cardinal Newman Catholic Primary School in September 1976, a few days shy of his fifth birthday.


Nazareth 1977
Robert Powell as Jesus above and below.


In the thick of the casual but evident religious background at home and a far firmer religious education at school, Martin watched the TV series called Jesus of Nazareth, starring Robert Powell as Jesus, which would leave an indelible impression on him. He told the Daily Mail in 2009, ‘ I remember thinking, “That’s amazing he’s brilliant.” The TV series premiered in the UK in two parts over Easter 1977.


To achieve on-screen presence, Powell decided to go about playing Jesus in the TV series without ever blinking on the screen. This coupled with his piercing blue eyes, which were enhanced with blue eyeliner, made him mesmerizing.


Still only five years old, Martin watch the TV series that Easter and found himself, as did many viewers, transfixed on Robert Powers powerful portrayal of Jesus




If both home and school were asking Martin to develop and nurture a passionate belief in God, his elder siblings were beaming out a very different message – that music was something to believe in, to be uplifted by, to stockpile faith in.


When punk announced itself to the British music scene with the release of ‘The Sex Pistols’ single ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ in November 1976, unlike most other five-year-olds, Martin quickly learned about it thanks to his music-loving siblings.




Martin provided unexpected entertainment at home by learning the lyrics to some of these punk anthems and then sing in them around the house. He told the Daily Mail in 2008 about the subversive thrill of impersonating Johnny Rotten, ‘I think I sensed it was naughty. I used to sing them to wind up my dad.’


The well-known cartoon team of Tom and Jerry was a favorite of Martin’s. 


By the time Martin turned seven in 1978, like most children growing up at that time and like the rest of his family, he loved watching TV. His favorite shows included cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and his favorite kinds of films were comedies featuring Jerry Lewis, Norman Wisdom, and Laurel and Hardy.


Another famous duo, that was a favorite of Martin’s!


Jerry Lewis was a personal favorite of many, including Martin Freeman!


 A Fun picture of Norman Wisdom!


He told Daily Mail in 2009 that he was a ‘short, wheezy boy’ but that it didn’t bother him, because he was very clear about who he was already and what he liked in life, ‘I had way around it – being funny, being a good dancer, being into music – just having my own thing.’


How do I store in this period of cultural discovery, when Martin was soaking up his elder siblings’ music cues and nurturing a love for TV and film that the family home experienced a dramatic change – Geoffrey and Philomena made the decision to separate.


During this period of his childhood, when Martin lived with his father, he would, of course, spend plenty of time with his mother and sister, and apparently would often call them to the living room and put on little performances for them. His eagerness to entertain and perform was starting to express itself.


Again all of this comes from this amazing book, which you can buy on Amazon or eBay. I’ll spotlight another chapter soon!!


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