My United: Actor Divian Ladwa

Wednesday 29 March 2023 13:04

Divian Ladwa is perhaps best known for his role as Hugh in the popular BBC comedy series Detectorists. But did you know that he's also a long-time supporter of Manchester United?

Earlier this year, the club's official magazine, Inside United, sat down with the star – who also appeared the Oscar-nominated 2016 film Lion – to chat about the 20-times champions of England in greater detail.

Divian told us the unusual story of how he first fell in love with the club, his all-time Reds hero and revealed the two legends he'd most like to see... if he had a time machine...
Divian wore his collar popped, a la Eric Cantona, at a film premiere for Mr Malcolm's List last year.
When and why did you start supporting United?
"I was still in primary school. I was asked by a group of kids one lunchtime who I supported. I didn’t know anything about football. My cousin was there wearing a Spurs kit, lots of other kids in school had Liverpool tops. My best friend at the time, David, had a United top that he was pointing to. So, under all the peer pressure, I answered with great confidence: "Sharp Viewcam." There was raucous laughter across the school hall at my expense. David told me to start watching Match of the Day, so that weekend I stayed up to watch. I told my parents I wanted the red team to win. But in that highlight, we lost. Being a little kid, investing everything into a sport I had no idea about, I burst into tears. So my dad took me to bed and we did a little prayer that the red team will always win. And for a long time, we pretty much did."
Who was your first United hero?
"As I started to get more into football and getting to know the players, the ones that stood out were Lee Sharpe and Ryan Giggs. We used to do the 'Sharpey Shuffle' in the playground and we had that weird Ryan Giggs ‘SunBall’ that was attached to some cheap shades with a cord."
Can you recall the first United game you attended?
"It took me a while to get to Old Trafford. When I was growing up, I didn’t really have anyone to take me. I finally got to Old Trafford to see a game against Villa. My aforementioned cousin and I went and we beat them 4-0. It was so awesome. Not just the football, everything. The chanting, the roaring, the camaraderie with those sat next to you. There was torrential rain that day that added to the atmosphere."
Are there any fans in the cast of Detectorists? Or any fellow actors?
"Pearce Quigley, who plays Russell, and Paul Casar, who plays Paul, are both United fans. I WhatsApp them whenever there’s a game. My friend Jack Ashton, who was in Call the Midwife, is a Bristol City fan. We did a film together called 8 Minutes Idle, where I played a [Bristol] Rovers fan, so we’ve always had banter over that. He was at the game where Bristol City knocked us out of the League Cup in 2017 at Ashton Gate. All the home fans stormed the pitch. He video called from the ground, he went to cheer – and I presume to gloat – but he was so emotional, he burst into tears. I always become subdued when we lose but I was very happy for him."
All The Goals: Eric Cantona Video

All The Goals: Eric Cantona

Watch all 82 of Eric Cantona's goals for United during his unforgettable reign at Old Trafford...

Which are the team you most want United to beat?
"Liverpool. We’ve always had different rivals for the title for as long as I can remember – Leeds, Blackburn, Newcastle, Arsenal, Chelsea, City – but Liverpool and United, in the grand scheme of things, have always felt like England’s two big guns."
What’s your greatest United memory?
"I had Cantona posters all over my wall and his goal in the 1996 FA Cup final against Liverpool was a moment that sort of reflects and becomes an anchor point of my childhood. I distinctively remember a fan in the crowd who was leaning so far forward, pleading for a goal to come. When Cantona scored he seemed to run and celebrate in front of that fan. I felt oddly connected to Cantona and that fan in that moment."
Who is your all-time United legend?
"There may be a clue in the last answer! I still pop my collar up from time to time. I actually did that this summer at a film premiere in New York for a film called Mr Malcolm’s List."
Goal of the Day: Scholes v Barcelona Video

Goal of the Day: Scholes v Barcelona

It's 12 years to the day since the Ginger Prince rocketed us past Barca and into the Champions League final...

Who are your favourite current players?
"I quite like the new signings like Eriksen and Martinez. There seems to be a great esprit de corps developing, especially in the backline, that appears to come from Lisandro’s arrival. It would be great to see that spread across the field. There is a lot of passion creeping in and support for each other, which I really like to see. I’d also like to wish Rashford all the best in the world and to be injury-free. When he’s on form, he looks like he’s on fire. And my mum loves him."
If you had a time machine, what player or United side from the past would you like to see play live?
"If I go back in time with my dad, it would be George Best. I think my dad tried to imitate his style when he was younger and, of course, I know how great he was. For me personally, I’d love to see Duncan Edwards. What I’ve seen people say about him makes me think that he could have been the greatest player of all time."
Which is your favourite United goal?
“There are so, so, so many. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Paul Scholes’s semi-final goal against Barcelona. Not just any Barcelona. One of the best teams ever. This is how my friend Ekene referred to that strike: ‘That was a beautiful goal. The control to set it up, the technique, execution, a brief look to see the gap between defenders and keeper’s position. A pitch full of the best players in the world reduced to mere spectators.’”