Dinnerladies star Andy Dunn is swapping his white coat and hat for a smart band uniform in the play Brassed Off, that is coming to Sheffield next week.
Andy said he is still recognised for probably his best-known TV role. He played Tony, the gruff Manchester factory canteen manager who starts a relationship with his shy co-worker Bren, played by Victoria Wood.
The comedienne, actress and writer also wrote the bitter-sweet comedy that first appeared on our TV screens in 2000.
Andy said: “People didn’t know who I was but they recognised me. I terms of getting work, I did a lot of different stuff after that. I’ve played a lot of policemen and did a stint in Coronation Street about 18 months ago.
“It’s a long time ago but they repeat it all the time on Gold, so people think it’s more recent. There were actually only 16 episodes made.”
Andy has worked with Victoria Wood since Dinnerladies on the stage version of the wartime drama Housewife, 49.
The original TV play, based on a woman’s real wartime diaries, won Wood a BAFTA award.
In Brassed Off, Andy plays Phil, the son of the band’s conductor, Danny, played by ex-Brookside star, John McArdle.
They’re a bit close in age, surely? Andy said: “I think I’m about seven years younger. He’s got grey hair and I keep having the injections!
“I did the play about 10 years ago and played the same part. When they asked me to come back, my first question was, don’t you think I’m too old?”
Some of the cast play instruments on stage and they’re appearing alongside a real brass band, which changes at each venue.
In Sheffield, they will be joined by Newstead Brass Band from Nottinghamshire.
The story, set at the fictional Grimley Colliery, is based on the story of the world-famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band, who appeared in the film that starred Pete Postlethwaite, Stephen Tompkinson and Tara Fitzgerald..
They faced uncertainty when the Tory government announced its sweeping programme of pit closures in 1992 that hit South Yorkshire hard but managed to carry on and go from strength to strength.
In the play, the arrival of arrival of flugelhorn player Gloria brings hope, romance and controversy to the band just as it is on the brink of collapse.
She helps to push the band towards the seemingly impossible dream of winning the national brass band competition with its final at the Albert Hall in London.
The play was first seen in Sheffield on the Crucible stage back in 1998 when an adaptation of the film broke box office records and transferred to the National Theatre in London.
Andy remembers that in 1984 he was in South Yorkshire, working with the Yorkshire Actors’ Company, based in Rotherham.
He said: “I remember miners collecting money during the strike. Because we were touring, you could see scores of policemen on the road bridges, being told where they had to go.
“The strike totally split the country. It was very bitter and very nasty at times and it’s still going on. All this secret Government information coming out after 30 years is shocking.”
Leeds-born Andy trained as an actor at Breton Hall near Barnsley in the 1970s and also worked for Neil Sissons’ Compass Theatre company in Sheffield in the 1980s.
He remembers living in Nether Edge in 1983 and said: “The Leadmill had just opened at the time. That was the happening place at the time of the New Romantics.
“I remember going to the jazz on Sunday lunchtimes.”
More recently, Andy was seen in a stage version of Dinnerladies at the Lyceum.
He still has a link with the city as his son is studying film at Hallam University.
The actor is looking forward to returning to Sheffield with the play. He said: “Brassed Off started in Sheffield, so hopefully we’ll perform it well enough for Sheffield!”
The show is at the Lyceum next week from Wednesday to Saturday. Tickets: call 0114 249 6000 or go online to www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk