ONE of the stars of The Bill, Simon Rouse, plays a respectable man who finds himself on the wrong side of the law for a while in The Full Monty.
Yorkshireman Simon is best known for playing the role of Superintendent Jack Meadows in the long-running ITV police drama The Bill.
He plays former Sheffield steelworks foreman turned stripper Gerald in The Full Monty. In the film their antics put them on the wrong side of the law when they are caught rehearsing in the closed-down steelworks.
The BAFTA-winning story has been specially adapted for the Crucible stage by the film’s screenwriter Simon Beaufoy. Gerald was played in the film by popular film and TV character actor Tom Wilkinson.
Rouse said: “I’m not sure whether I ever did see the film. I’ve seen so many excerpts but can’t remember whether I’ve sat through the whole film.”
Does he agree that Gerald is different from the rest of The Full Monty gang because he was the foreman and saw himself as white collar and had to learn a hard lesson that he was in the same plight as the workers.
“No, the difference is he’s a Tory,” says the actor bluntly. “He has aspirations according to his status.
“I’m the right age to play Gerald. I’m from Bradford, and my father was a teacher and he was aspirational like that. He saw himself as lower middle-class. And because of that they think they have to behave in a certain way.”
He added: “I think it’s one of the tragedies of being English that we are so steeped in class and status and that’s one of the reasons the country is in such a bad way.
“Gerald is an example of that culture that makes you obsessed with worrying what people around you think and how you will lose face. Where he falls down is thinking that that status can be permanent.
“We should be like Australia where there’s no such thing. It’s great to do exactly what you want and not worry about aspirations.”
Gerald is a character who becomes more appealing as the story of The Full Monty goes on, so how did Rouse tackle making him sympathetic? ”I never worry about that sort of thing,” retorts the actor. “I just do my best with what’s in the script.”
Gerald, of course, was an accomplished ballroom dancer which becomes an asset in developing the strip routine. Has Rouse had to have lessons?
”I used to think I was a great dancer but we’ve all needed to have a few dance sessions,” he admitted.
He stars in the play, which goes on tour after its Sheffield run, alongside Barnsley actor Kenny Doughty, Sidney Cole, Craig Gazey, Roger Morlidge and Kieran O’Brien. They play the other out-of-work lads that Gerald has to whip into shape for their big strip routine.
The director is Sheffield Theatres artistic director Daniel Evans.
The Full Monty is at the Crucible until February 23.