Dickensian TV series actor Richard Cordery is appearing at the Crucible in Sheffield in a new production of the classic play Waiting for Godot.
Richard appears in the BBC series as Sir Leicester Dedlock, who falls in love with the young Honoria Barbary.
He joked: “You never know when the bloody thing is on TV! My wife and I sat down to watch it and it wasn’t on.”
He is a fan, though:“It is a gorgeous, gorgeous idea.”
In the play, Richard Cordery plays aristocratic Pozzo, who causes chaos when he arrives with his slave Lucky at the place where the two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, are waiting for Godot, who never arrives.
Richard, who also starred in a BBC adaptation of Roald Dahl story Esio Trot, said: “It’s an absolute peach of a role. It’s gorgeous. He is an immensely arrogant and self-centred and bombastic character.
“I know two of the actors we are working with. When one of them heard I was doing it, I got the message via a third party that it was perfect casting.
“I don’t think I am like that and I hope to Christ I don’t come across like that! But he is a marvellous character.”
Richard and director Charlotte Gwinner have agreed that Pozzo should be played as someone who is outwardly loud but quite intimidated by life.
Irish writer Samuel Beckett’s play has been much hailed as a modern masterpiece.
Not much happens on stage to the simple characters in Waiting for Godot but there has been endless speculation about its meaning.
Richard said: “People talk about it being a big play. It’s a very simple little piece which carries so much weight.
“It’s about our very existence and you don’t get much bigger than that. If you’re brave enough to enjoy it, you will be moved to tears or laughter.”
He added: “I hope it’s not just full of schoolchildren because it’s good for them to see it.
“It’s a romp, a riotous joy. I’ve seen four productions in my career.”
Richard said that the cast have been fortunate because Sheffield Theatres has a copy of Samuel Beckett’s original rehearsal script from a German production.
Although nobody could set out to write a hugely significant play beforehand, Richard said he got the impression from that script that Beckett realised afterwards exactly what he’d achieved.
He said: “You realise he was aware of having hit the ball bang in the middle, like when you play squash or tennis.”
Richard’s distinguished career includes 10 years at the Royal Shakespeare Company and a recent stint in Leeds doing the Tennessee Williams play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
He’s also done more offbeat jobs, such as a trip to Kazakhstan to make a film Birth of a Nation, playing the US Secretary of State, James Baker.
Richard said: “All the other actors except me spoke Russian or Kazakh.
“I had to have someone whispering to me when they had finished!”
Waiting for Godot is at the Crucible from tomorrow to February 27.
Box office: at the theatre, call 0114 2496000 or go online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk