Robert Whitehead not ready to retire

Robert Whitehead AKA Barker Haines (Gallo Images)
Robert Whitehead AKA Barker Haines (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - He is one of the most recognised faces on television. Robert Whitehead, better known as the villain Barker Haines on SABC3’s Isidingo, definitely deserves to be celebrated. With the wicked and unapologetic character he portrays on the soapie, he has brought nothing but excitement to our screens. The 66-year-old actor shares with Move! that he is not planning to retire anytime soon. 


“I am not planning to retire anytime soon. I will work until I drop dead. As a working actor, it’s not that easy to just leave the industry,” he says.  Robert, who has been in the entertainment industry for more than three decades, says he has been lucky because there has never been a day where he was without a job. “Since I came into the industry in the 1970s it has been a pleasant journey. I have been tremendously lucky when it comes to getting gigs, be it on TV or in theatre,” says the veteran actor. Robert says before he went into acting, he studied furniture and textiles design in London. “In 1970, I moved to London for a period of six years where I decided to study. I have always had a passion for the arts, but I felt that I needed a back-up just in case this acting thing does not work out for me. Only at age 23 did I grow the confidence to go into acting,” says the Joburg-born actor.


Robert says he grew up with his sister, but after his father passed away, when Robert was 16 years old, his mother remarried and he inherited two stepbrothers. Speaking to Move!, the actor reveals that he doesn’t have children and he’s an old bachelor who does not think he will get married. “I am an old grumpy bachelor who is not married and marriage is not on the cards for me,” says the theatre director.  


In his 13 years on Isidingo, the actor says there were hard times and it has not always been a walk in the park. “I have had tough times on the show, but I always managed to find my way back. One thing that I appreciate the most about the show is that it is making history in the entertainment industry,” says Robert. Probably, one of the oldest cast members on Isidingo who young actors look up to, Robert says the most dangerous thing that an actor can do is to be driven by an ego. “Your first appearance on TV does not make you a star and maintaining professionalism is the most important thing,” he says. Not only has Robert managed to steal viewers’ hearts with his character on Isidingo, he has won numerous awards for his portrayal of the character. This includes winning an award for Lead Actor in a Soapie in 2006 at the South African Film and Television Awards.