Likely Lad Rodney Bewes’ national tour heading for Bungay
During the ‘60s and ‘70s he was one-half a much-loved comedy duo. His on screen escapades with fellow actor James Bolam captured the imagination of generations. But even though he is in his 60th year of his career, former Likely Lad Rodney Bewes is as enthusiastic as ever and RICHARD WOOD spoke to him ahead of a visit to Bungay.
AS he drives across the country in his 10-year old Mondeo, organises all of his own interviews and directs all of his own shows, there can be no mistaking his passion for performing.
Rodney Bewes might be in his 60th year as an actor, but he certainly hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for making people laugh.
Once it was as part of a series that is still regarded as a national treasure, and today it is part of a one-man performance showcasing the work of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
“I love going on tours with a one-man show,” said Rodney. “Some actors sit at home waiting for the phone to ring for episodes of Midsomer Murders, but I love this, I would not do it if I didn’t love it.”
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It is 60 years since Rodney first started acting and he decided to mark his own Diamond Jubilee this year by performing some stories that inspired him so much.
When he was 14 years old he saw Emlyn Williams perform a collection of short stories from Dylan Thomas at the Globe Theatre, and it was a moment that changed his future forever.
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“I went about six times and thought it was terrific, one chap on his own, making you laugh so much,” he said.
Now he has taken on the idea and is touring a selection of the stories that Dylan Thomas performed on the radio during the ‘40s and ‘50s under the title A Boy Growing Up.
“They are very funny, something he did as radio broadcasts. Stories of when he is growing up from a little boy staying with his grandfather, to staying with his uncle on the farm, and going to school. They are lovely short stories that are funny,” he said.
Despite being 74 years old he is still working as hard as ever as he puts on his show nationally. It is a hunger that has seen him perform 26 times in 26 days at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he returns year after year as an “ageless master”.
“I love it. There are people who swear, do stand up and think they are clever, but here I am in the autumn of my career, I feel like an intruder,” he said.
He has performed in front of a huge variety of people throughout his years in entertainment, but among all the reviews and comments, his favourite piece of feedback came from a girl aged 10 or 11 years old.
“She was holding daddy’s hand and she came to me with the best bit of criticism. It was just two words; ‘you’re mad’. I loved it.”
Rodney’s fame was launched through his performance as Bob Ferris in the Likely Lads, and although his autobiography revealed that he had not spoken to co-star James Bolam for decades, he still admits he loves the show.
“I have a fan base because of Likely Lads, I know that. Young people say to me my parents talk about the Likely Lads, while I’ve even had some say their grandparents used to talk about it,” he said.
Performing alone on stage is very different for Rodney, and he revels in the opportunity to play with the live audience, with a torch on stage and programmes for any latecomers hoping to quietly sneak in.
“The first time I went do a one man show someone called it interactive and I did not know what that meant. It seems it means mucking about with your audience. I love latecomers and I love mobile phones going off,” he said.
“It’s good to be different. You have to do something to get people away from the tv and barbecue. It has to be special.”
Rodney Bewes will be performing at Bungay’s Fisher Theatre on October 10.
Tickets are available from the box office on 01986 897130 or via the website www.fishertheatre.org