Sheffield theatre date in Alan Ayckbourn comedy for The Royal TV star Robert Daws

The Royal star Robert Daws leads the cast of an Alan Ayckbourn comedy, Ten Times Table, that he says is having a timely revival.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 4:07 pm
Robert Daws, left, with the cast of Ten Times Table, touring to the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

The TV actor is most loved for his role as Dr Gordon Ormerod in The Royal and his appearances in other hit shows such as Poldark, Outside Edge and Roger Roger.

His co-stars in this show, which is coming to the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield, include Deborah Grant, best known for playing Wendy in Not Going Out and Deborah Bergerac in Bergerac, Robert Duncan of Drop The Dead Donkey fame, Elizabeth Power, who played Christine Hewitt in EastEnders and Mark Curry, famous for his role as Kevin in Last Of The Summer Wine.

Robert said: “It’s a play that was originally done in 1977. It’s all about a small market town in the Home Counties.

“There’s a small committee of local people – shopkeepers and councillors and what have you –and Ray Dixon comes up with the idea that the town should have a small pageant to help the town regain its identity.

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“He finds this story in an old book that occurred in the 18th century of the Pendon 12 – agricultural workers who rose against the aristocracy.”

Ray wants to re-enact the scene of workers clashing with the Earl of Pendon’s militia but there are wildly differing views of how this should be done, leading to disaster, said Robert.

He added: “Although it’s a play that’s 40 years old, it’s quite relevant to the state of the nation as we happen to find it at the moment.”

The show is the first production to be staged by the Classic Comedy Theatre Company, set up by famed theatre producer Bill Kenwright and the team behind the Agatha Christie, Classic Thriller and Classic Screen to Stage theatre companies which have enjoyed 15 years of success.

Robert, who has been a key member of the Classic Thriller company, is happy to be part of the new set-up.

He said: “There’s a wealth of classic comedies to chose from and the most performed writer in the world is Alan Ayckbourn.

“He’s just completed his 82nd play that has opened to rave reviews. There’s also Coward, Travers, Stoppard, Orton…

“Hopefully it will be a regular touring company on the UK circuit for years to come.”

Robert said that the company was honoured to be allowed to perform an Ayckbourn comedy, as the writer is very cautious about who puts on his work.

He continued: “It’s a lovely cast, many of us have worked together before and we’ve got a very civillised tour ahead of us.”

Robert said this will be his first visit to Sheffield and he is looking forward to it.

The closest he came to the city was spending nine years in Scarborough, filming The Royal.

The resort is of course also Alan Ayckbourn’s long-time base, the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Robert said: “I have been an actor for 40-odd years and have never done any Ayckbourn until the last few years. He’s one of my favourite playwrights.”

He added: “I have trod the boards at the Stephen Joseph Theatre but never had the great good fortune to do an Ayckbourn there.”

Robert has spent a lot of this year filming a new series of TV comedy Agatha Raisin and is also a successful thriller writer.

A new book in his series featuring detectives Sullivan and Broderick is about to be released.

Ten Times Table is at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield from October 21 to 26. Box office: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk