8th November 2015
A charmer to chill and a dame to delight
When I told friends that I was going to meet Nigel Havers, the reaction was a universal sigh of envy. He is the embodiment of boyish good looks and irresistible charm,with a voice like fine wine and a CV that ranges from Oscar-winning films to Oscar Wilde on stage.
But this Christmas he will be donning the hideous make-up and swirling the slime-coloured cloak as the demon Fleshcreep in Bath Theatre Royal’s Jack and the Beanstalk.
And he will be in his element “I always do villains,” he says, “because they are the best parts. I have a ball doing it. It is hard work but I enjoy it. I like scaring the kids!”
Not all big stars do pantomime. Nigel says actors either love it or hate it and he loves it. He was taken as a child and has never lost a taste for this peculiarly English theatrical tradition.His panto villains have included Fleshcreep (which he last played at Southampton in 2013), the Sheriff of Nottingham, the wizard Abanazer in Aladdin and, perhaps his favourite, Captain Hook in Peter Pan. Nigel Havers has had a long and distinguished career on the cinema and television screens, with roles that have ranged from the elegant Lord Andrew Lindsay hurdling to Olympic silver in the Oscar-winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire through television hits including Upstairs Downstairs, The Charmer, Don’t Wait Up, The Glittering Prizes, A Horseman Riding By, and more than 150 episodes of Coronation Street as the charming conman Lewis Archer, to a guest role in Downton Abbey.
On stage he has played Serge in Yasmina Reza‘s Art, Maxim de Winter in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt in Alan Bennett’s Single Spies, the celebrity guest star in The Play What I wrote, and he is currently on tour playing Algernon in a gloriously funny production of The Importance of Being Earnest, in which his co-stars include Sian Phillips as Lady Bracknell and his old chum Martin Jarvis as Ernest. The two originally played the same parts some 30 years ago at the National Theatre and had long planned to reprise their roles in a stylish “mature” production of the Oscar Wilde classic.
Standing up to the evil machismo of the demon Fleshcreep will be the feisty and colourful Dame Trott, mother of our hero Jack and his accident-prone brother Simple Simon, played by Bath favourite Jon Monie,. Jon had a long and successful festive season partnership with the late great Chris Harris, who played the dame in so many Bath pantomimes.
Away from pantomime, Nick describes himself as a “Jack of all trades” playing in many Ray Cooney farces and a wide range of roles from Ali Hakim in Oklahoma to Rosencrantz in Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, from Samuel Pepys to Sir Percy in Alan Bennett’s Habeas Corpus.
He has been in many television programmes including EastEnders, Doc Martin, Casualty, Heartbeat, Carrott’s Lib and many children’s shows.
Nigel and Nick have never played together before but both are looking forward to bringing this classic panto story to life for children and friends and family this Christmas in Bath.
The panto also stars Katy Ashworth from CBeebies as the Forest Fairy. Katy is an accomplished singer, actress and storyteller and also writes and illustrates stories for children.
Jack and the Beanstalk is at Bath Theatre Royal from 10th December to 10th January.