“Very exciting time” for Adrian Scarborough

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Headshot of Adrian Scarborough

Headshot of Adrian ScarboroughWhen an actor says this is a “very exciting time”, you have to think that there are some fascinating projects on the horizon. When that actor is Adrian Scarborough who you may know from Gavin And Stacey, Killing Eve and many other shows on the small screen, you’re inclined to take notice.

Adrian will shortly be returning to Nottingham to appear in an Alan Bennett story which Adrian himself has adapted. He will also be shooting another television series which for him is a “dream come true” because it’s named after his character. And there’s other work in the pipeline that he can’t talk about yet. Exciting times indeed.

The last time Adrian was at Nottingham Playhouse was in 2018 when he played Dr Willis in Bennett’s The Madness Of George III which featured Mark Gatiss in the lead role.

He will come back as solicitor Maurice Ransome in The Clothes They Stood Up In, Alan Bennett’s first novella which he wrote in 1996.

Adrian explains how he came to adapt it: “I’d always loved the story, so much so that my wife Rose and bought a copy of Alan reading it on a cassette. We got to know it incredibly well.

Headshots of Adrian Scarborough and Sophie Thompson

Adrian Scarborough and Sophie Thompson in The Clothes They Stood Up In

“I had a conversation with Alan about it and said he ought to turn it into a play. About five years later we had the same conversation. I said ‘did you ever make it into a play?’ and he went ‘No, I haven’t had time. You should do it’.

“I laughed, thinking it was a bit of a joke. Eventually my wife said ‘I don’t know why you don’t just sit down and write the darned thing’ because I’d been talking about it so much. Which is what I did.”

Adrian sent it to Alan Bennett who said he was very happy with it and gave it his blessing.

Described as a “bittersweet exploration of marriage, dreams and lives unlived”, The Clothes They Stood Up In features mild-mannered couple Maurice and Rosemary Ransome who return from a night at the opera to discover their flat is completely empty. Burglars have taken everything – light bulbs, carpets, toilet paper, even their chicken casserole.

Adrian says the play is both moving and funny.

“(Sophie) said she’d carried it around with her in her pocket because it was something that she really desperately wanted to do, which was terribly flattering.”

“The story is about how one side of the partnership is liberated by the loss of the belongings and the other side does the opposite. These people are together just by the fact that nobody else would marry either of them. It’s rather wonderful.”

Rosemary Ransome will be played by Sophie Thompson, an Olivier Award winner who has appeared in both EastEnders and Coronation Street, was in one of the Harry Potter films and has taken roles in many major theatrical productions. Adrian says it is “the casting coup of the decade” because she wanted to do the play and was available.

“She said she’d carried it around with her in her pocket because it was something that she really desperately wanted to do, which was terribly flattering.

“We’ve worked together before on screen but never on stage and we’ve certainly never played man and wife. I can’t think of anyone better than Sophie to play the part. So to get your first choice is always a coup and something that doesn’t always happen in this profession.

“It’s a real treat. She was born to play it and she’ll be absolutely magnificent in the role.”

Headshot of Adrian ScarboroughThe rest of the cast features Ned Costello, Natasha Magigi and Charlie de Melo. Charlie played Imran Habeeb for five years in Coronation Street and Adrian thinks it’s another coup to get him.

“I hope people will come because they want to see him do something very different from Corrie. And they’ll get to see him do THREE different things, so that’s fabulous.

“I’ve cast those three actors as everything else in the play. Each of them is playing at least three other parts which is a big ask but hopefully it will keep them occupied and interested. I think it’ll be great for an audience to see how fantastically versatile they all are.”

Adrian Philip Scarborough was born on 10 May 1968 in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He credits his mum for taking him to many theatres in the East Midlands including Nottingham Playhouse, the city’s Theatre Royal, the Haymarket, the Phoenix and De Montfort Hall in Leicester and Melton Theatre “which at the time attracted a huge number of very interesting plays and tours”.

He says: “We had theatre everywhere we looked. I was truly blessed in that regard.”

That inspired him to become an actor “because I was so hopeless at everything else”. After going to Brooksby Melton College he trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, winning an award for best actor.

His big-screen debut came in 1994 in The Madness Of King George. Since then his film appearances have included Gosford Park, Vera Drake, The History Boys, The King’s Speech and Les Misérables.

On television he was Pete Sutcliffe in Gavin And Stacey and psychopathic assassin Villanelle’s new handler Raymond in the second series of Killing Eve. On stage he’s frequently appeared in the West End. His versatility means he can turn his hand to almost anything.

“Somebody once gave me a bit of advice which was to be a jack of all trades, master of none. For a character actor I think that really is a very good piece of advice because if you’re looking to put Marmite on the table for 30 years, then you have to be adaptable.

Headshot of Adrian Scarborough“The chances are you’re not going to be leading actor material. So you’ll always be second or third man down and invariably be paid a lot less than the star. And although it’s not all about money, being able to work in lots and lots of different ways has meant that I have enough money in the bank to be able to sit and write or go to Nottingham for a month. I pour a lot of what I earn back into creativity and I’m happy to do that. It’s a really lovely way to live your life.”

Adrian had intended to cut back on television work until he was offered the part of DI Max Arnold in the Acorn TV series The Chelsea Detective.

“It’s not every day that someone asks you to be a television detective and have a series named after your character. It’s a dream come true.

“We try as hard as we can to make it as interesting and as stimulating as possible. We’re doing four more in the autumn and next year. They’re all 90-minute episodes and it’s a lot of fun.

“What people really like about it is the lack of gore. The Chelsea Detective doesn’t deal in gore – it deals in characters and the psychology between them and their relationships.

“You get a different story for every episode which is good. I like the completeness of that. There’s something very satisfying about winding things up after an hour and a half, so I really like finding out who the murderer is and putting him away.”

Headshot of Adrian Scarborough

Adrian Scarborough in The Madness of George III at Nottingham Playhouse in 2018

Before then Adrian is looking forward to meeting up with friends and family in the East Midlands, some of whom will come to see The Clothes They Stood Up In. And he’s hoping the play will tour after its Nottingham run because not many people know about Bennett’s novella.

“Everybody knows about The Lady In The Van and the Talking Heads series but this story seems to have got through the loop somehow.

“The Clothes They Stood Up In is like a new Alan Bennett play, if I dare say that. I’m standing on the shoulders of a giant really. Most of it is his work with a little bit of tweaking from me so it’d be great for audiences up and down the country to be able to see it.”

Anyone conversant with Adrian Scarborough’s work should disagree that he’s a jack of all trades and master of none. It’ll be exciting to see him appear in Nottingham again.

The Clothes They Stood Up In will be at Nottingham Playhouse from Friday 9 September until Saturday 1 October

* This article originally appeared in Country Images magazine

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