The Diary: That’s a bit Rich...

Bryan Heeley as Richard III
Bryan Heeley as Richard III
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HE is the English king whose 500-year-old remains have sparked a national debate after they were discovered under a Leicester car park.

But here’s a South Yorkshire actor making no bones about becoming Richard III.

Bryan Heeley has turned himself into the Plantagenet monarch - killed at the Battle Of Bosworth Field in 1485 - after being asked to promote the campaign to have the royal’s body interned in his chosen resting place, York.

“Think about it this way,” he says. “Would you want to be buried at the sight of your most catastrophic defeat or back in the city you loved?”

Academics in Leicester rather feel the former - and that means the arguments go on.

Bryan, from Ferham Road, Rotherham, took up his role in the debate as part of his day job. He is a staff actors at tourist attraction, York Dungeon.

That means he has previously played everything from plague doctor to Viking warrior for the thousands of tourists who visit each year.

“But this Richard III role has certainly been one of the most interesting,” says the 59-year-old. “I had to cut off my beard and wear a wig so my own friends hardly recognised me.”

He has been with the dungeon for a decade now, and loves every minute of it.

“I would imagine we’re among the most photographed actors in the world,” he notes.

Performing live for thousands of people from around the world, however, means things can sometimes go wrong. Like when the schoolboy asked him, as he pretended to be Dick Turpin’s executioner, when the highway man was born.

“I had no idea,” he says. “But dealing with that interactivity is part of the challenge. In that instance I said I didn’t know when he was born but he was going to die today. I learned for next time, though - 1705.”

Before he got the gig in 2003, he had acted on stage across the UK and starred in hit film Rita, Sue And Bob Too, as Sue’s brother.

“I’ve been an actor since I left school,” he says. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

And now, as Richard III, he’s making more friends than the real monarch - recorded as a cruel king - ever did.

“It’s fun to walk about York and see people’s reactions,” says Bryan who now lives in the city.

And, of course, he’s still playing all those characters at the Dungeon itself. The attraction reopens on Friday after a £2 million revamp.

It’s a great job, he says. He he wouldn’t give all his kingdom - or, indeed, a horse, a horse - for another one.