what’s on & where to go

MAR­ION MCMULLEN FINDS OUT WHY SOAP VET­ERAN CHARLES LAWSON IS TRAD­ING THE COB­BLES FOR CLUES AS FA­MOUS DE­TEC­TIVE RE­BUS

Coventry Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

You’ve made a dra­matic re­turn to Corona­tion Street. What has it been like play­ing Jim McDon­ald again?

I FILMED the fi­nal scenes last week­end. It’s like rid­ing a bike re­ally. I’ve been act­ing now for 40 years and it’s an­other job (laughs), but a well-paid job.

I could do it stand­ing on my head re­ally. I’m very proud of the char­ac­ter of Jim and they al­ways write very well for me. I’ve never had a prob­lem of peo­ple mis­tak­ing me for the char­ac­ter. I think they are aware it’s fic­tion.

I fin­ished film­ing all my scenes just be­fore re­hearsals be­gan for Re­bus so it worked out well.

You’re play­ing writer Ian Rankin’s fa­mous de­tec­tive on stage in the world pre­miere of Re­bus: Long Shad­ows. Did you know much about the char­ac­ter be­fore­hand?

I’VE read one of Ian’s Re­bus books and that was it. I’m com­ing to it fresh. We have the writer Rona (Munro) with us who wrote the play with Ian and she is a big help with any in­for­ma­tion we need.

Her con­tri­bu­tions are very use­ful and it is a thrilling piece of theatre.

The script is 140 pages long and my char­ac­ter fea­tures on 103 pages so I’m never re­ally off stage.

Have you and Ian had a chance to meet yet?

IAN and I have been in con­tact over the last few months and we have tried to meet, but un­for­tu­nately we are both very busy peo­ple and just haven’t man­aged it yet.

We’ve spo­ken on the phone... and

I know his favourite pub in Ed­in­burgh.

Are you good at fig­ur­ing out ‘who­dun­nit’ in TV crime dra­mas?

I DON’T re­ally watch telly that much. I’d rather be in a pub. My wife Deb­bie keeps up with the telly stuff and what­ever is on.

I watched the won­der­ful Neil Morrissey and Adrian Dun­bar in Line Of Duty, but I don’t watch a lot of TV at all. I’m ac­tu­ally stay­ing with Neil dur­ing re­hearsals.

How are re­hearsals go­ing with fel­low cast mem­bers like Cathy Tyson and John Stahl?

VERY pro­duc­tive. We’ve worked our way through the play and now it all re­ally starts. I like to be here two hours be­fore ev­ery­one else in the morn­ing. Once on tour we can have a bit of fun.

You just can’t go to bed af­ter a per­for­mance. We’ll have a few in the places that we visit. It’s only a two-month tour and we’re open­ing in Birm­ing­ham and go­ing to Ed­in­burgh, Malvern, Not­ting­ham, Manch­ester, Northamp­ton, Aberdeen, Guild­ford – all over the coun­try.

How are you man­ag­ing with the Scot­tish ac­cent?

THE ac­cent is not a prob­lem. I’ve got a good ear and I’ve lived for years in Scot­land so it’s not bad. It’s all part of be­ing an ac­tor. In 40 years I’ve had to play a lot of dif­fer­ent roles and char­ac­ters.

John Han­nah and Ken Stott have both played Re­bus on TV. How did the stage role come your way?

THEY asked me at Easter time to do it. It was of­fered to me, I didn’t have to au­di­tion or any­thing, which was great, very nice.

Is there any­thing else on the wish list?

I’D like to work at the Tra­verse Theatre in Ed­in­burgh, but I’m not that am­bi­tious. To be happy, to have fun, a drink and bit of craic, that’s the height of my am­bi­tion. Maybe a King Lear in the fu­ture and I al­ways wanted to do Macbeth. It’s such a great play (laughs) and it’s short. I learned the role be­fore many years ago, but the pro­duc­tion fell through.

What’s next af­ter the tour?

I’M do­ing pre-pro­duc­tion on a pro­gramme called Are We There Yet? for PBS Amer­ica, Dark Heart for ITV, which is a crime drama, and a doc­u­men­tary for Sky about the bat­tle of Monte Cassino in Italy.

But af­ter all this I’m go­ing to a place in the High­lands for a cou­ple of months.

●●The UK tour of Re­bus: Long Shad­ows opens at Birm­ing­ham Rep on Septem­ber 20.

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