HE’S SUCH A FAMILIAR FACE
Andrew Dunn is one of those actors whose face is so familiar to us all. Now he is heading for Norwich’s Theatre Royal and a production of The Full Monty, says Judy Foster.
Now Andrew is in the Full Monty
It’s 20 years old, but thanks to a dedicated following for re-runs, Victoria Wood’s much-loved Dinnerladies is rarely off our TV screens. Central to the tale of life in a Manchester factory canteen was the romance between manager Tony, played by Andrew Dunn, and his deputy Bren ( Wood) which was frequently thwarted by Bren’s mother ( Julie Walters).
Now Andrew Dunn is returning to Norwich Theatre Royal, performing in The Full Monty.
Question: Andrew, what role do you play in The Fully Monty? Answer: My character is Gerald. In the film he was played by Tom Wilkinson. He used to be the foreman at the steel works, but he’s lived a lie for six months as he hasn’t told his wife he’s unemployed. He just wants to pretend he is still the breadwinner.
Q: You grew up in the north-east – do you recognise the scenario depicted in the play?
A: In the 1970s in Newcastle it was all mining and shipbuilding, and quickly it all went, so the whole community was devastated. When I was at school my careers options were the shipyards, mining or the armed forces. How I ended up acting I’ve no idea!
Q: The show is looked on as a ‘girls’ night out’, but there’s much more to it than that.
A: It is a very well-written piece because it covers a lot of issues – unemployment, child maintenance, sexuality, friendships, everything, but for some reason people think it is just about blokes stripping. I always say it is a man’s play. Men are the main characters and there’s a lot of humour which comes out when things get bad, so I think blokes would enjoy it far more than women do. It’s only the last 30 seconds when we take off our clothes.
Q: You’ve toured in Norwich before; what can audiences expect? A: This is my third tour in the show – same character. This tour is directed by Rupert Hill who was acting in the first tour, so he has come back and has freshened it up by enhancing a few of the characters, adding some new music and just making the whole thing speedier. It’s a rollercoaster.
Q: Does it take courage to perform the ’Full Monty’ at the end?
A: The worst time was the first rehearsal when there was just six of us and the choreographer, that was probably the most embarrassing time, but you do it so often it’s not so difficult. The audience isn’t meant to see anything, but sometimes there are mishaps!
Q: Do you have fond memories of your time on Dinnerladies?
A: It’s 20 years ago and we only made 16 episodes, but it’s been repeated endlessly so whole generations have watched it. I did a stage version a few years ago and we were getting kids of nine coming who weren’t born when it was made but had been watching it with their grannies and loved it. Some comedies date, but I don’t think that one does. There was one show with Thora Hird, Eric Sykes, Dora Bryan and Elspeth Gray and I had been watching these people all my life and I am acting with them. That is a memory I really cherish.
Q: What else would viewers recognise you from?
A: I did Bremner, Bird & Fortune for a few years playing Alistair Campbell, and a police series called 55 Degrees North set in Newcastle. I also did The Knock in the 1990s and have been in Casualty, Holby and Heartbeat.
Q: Are you looking forward to returning to Norwich?
A: I love Norwich. It feels a really heart-warming city. I could happily find myself living there.
The Full Monty is at Norwich Theatre Royal from November 26 to December 1. Tickets from www. theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk. Box office: 01603 630000.
The Full Monty is heading our way. INSET: Andrew Dunn is looking forward to returning to Norwich.