Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Interview - Robert Daws

IF his school careers adviser had had his way Robert Daws would have been "commuting to Fenchurch Street every day to work in the city in insurance".
Fortunately for him and indeed the rest of us Robert had another - better - idea and instead set his sights on being an actor. He got a place at RADA and by the time he was 20 he had finished studying and was "out acting".
"Acting was always what I wanted to do - in fact from the moment I thought it was a possibility," he remembers. "I might have toyed with teaching but didn't get much beyond thinking about it - much to the chagrin of my school careers officer who had other ideas for me!"
His persistence paid off as his subsequent 20 plus year career since then has featured star roles on stage and screen most notably as Dr Gordon Ormerod in ITV's The Royal, Sam Mountjoy in Roger Roger, Tuppy Glossop in Jeeves and Wooster and Roger Dervish in the award-winning Outside Edge.
But it's theatre that he's concentrating on at the moment thanks to his starring role in The Perfect Murder which is coming as part of its national tour to the New Wimbledon Theatre.
Based on Peter James’ best-selling novel of the same name the story has been adapted by award winning writer Shaun McKenna.
It tells the story of Victor Smiley and his wife Joan who have been married for perhaps more years than they would wish and now their marriage has reached crisis point. Victor has decided there is only one way to get Joan out of his life forever. And that means murder. But it seems he's in for a nasty surprise.
"It's a great story," enthuses Robert. "It's very funny but it's also very dark and we are having great fun with it.
"It also seems to be going down really well as audience reactions have been lovely which is obviously great for us but really nice for Peter as well.
"It's a real mix of thrills and laughter - I think most people who see it don't expect it to be as funny as it is.
"It's about a couple married for about 20 years who hate each other and they set about trying to murder each other. That's all you need to know really!" he adds cheerfully.
"Victor is a suburban husband who's had enough of the relationship and his wife is equally fed up with him.
"He's middle management and aimed low most of his life. He's a fascinating character and obsessed with great detectives. You could say murder is his hobby and has developed a 53-point plan that will lead to the perfect murder which is quite interesting. So it's a question of who murders the other first!
"Peter James is a terrific writer and really brings the characters to life so what actor wouldn't want to play this IT manager? I couldn't possibly turn that challenge down," he laughs.
"When they offered it to me last year I read the book and then the play and I have now read most of the other books he's written as it's part of a series featuring Detective Roy Grace who's in the show."
However, he sounds a note of caution for die hard Peter James fans.
"If people have read the book they are in for a surprise because although there is much they will recognise there is a different ending. The powers that be decided to give it a theatrical pep! But it's great."
Robert is no stranger to crime stories having appeared in shows such as Midsomer Murders - who can forget his larger than life character Mike Spicer.
"I was drowned in a TV full of red wine," he chuckles. "You don't have to ask what attracted me to that part! Mike Spicer was a fairly wretched individual but he was great fun to play and that episode was voted the most popular ever Midsomer Murders episode which is very nice."
And he also admits to penning his own crime novels, though he is modest about his talents.
"I have got an interest in crime writing and in the middle years of my career I have found myself turning to writing a bit more if I can. I quite like it, though I'm not in the same league as Peter."
But he adds he's not about to give up the day job - which consists of doing work on screen, stage, radio, commercials and giving tips to RADA students.
"I have enjoyed everything - most of the jobs I have done have been great and it's difficult to pick one favourite," he says.
"To be honest I had no idea it would last this long! But I feel very fortunate to have done a range of work.
"Radio is great yet it can be one of the most difficult things because you can't rely on mannerisms though you can be left in a virtual migrane at the end of it.
"I have done a lot of TV which I do enjoy. I loved playing Tuppy Glossop on the Jeeves and Wooster series - I'm a big PG Wodehouse fan and it was a great job - we had fun on set all the time.
"Tuppy Glossop is a fantastic character and is described as a bulldog who had just had his dinner snitched which is fantastic!
"I am so grateful because we had four happy years filming those shows.
"It's a strange world though - one day you could be doing high brow theatre and the next day you can be doing a commercial about oranges! But it's good and I like the variety and versatility of the job.
"But it all comes back to the script and the words - much like this play in fact and although theatre is in its own way a bit more complicated, I love the sense of live performance and doing a show like this is a joy."
And he says he's loving the demands of the tour and is looking forward to coming to Wimbledon.
"It's my first time performing at this theatre though I have been to see shows here before," he says. "One of the reasons I do tours once every three years or so is because I prefer it to being in one place for a long time. It keeps you on your toes and every Monday is a new opening night.
"Each week we are in a different town and it's nice to go and explore the area.
"So as well as entertaining the audiences I'm looking forward to exploring Wimbledon!"

The Perfect Murder head to New Wimbledon Theatre from October 27 to Saturday November 1. Tickets from £12.90. Visit or call the box office on 0844 871 7646.

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