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.

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Now An­drew is in the Full Monty

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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.

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