More Celebrity Plumber

Been talking to IT wiz San Sharma, who says the Celebrity Plumber website is proving to be a great 'hit'. Thousands upon thousands of hits over its first few months. He has data and wotsits charting this and that and informs Chris Matthew and myself that we can now go 'commercial'. Does this mean that we might actually begin to make some small stipend from this venture? Does this mean I might one day begin to understand how all this stuff works? A tick in both boxes would be an unexpected plus!

Have also been approached by the mighty Chartered Institute of Plumbers and Heating Engineers or CIPHE as they are affectionately known. They are the big cheeses in the world of plumbing and they want to see if we might work together. It's a big, brave new world out there these days. Once upon a time we would have been knocking on the doors of the BBC or ITV, but now its off down the internet highway and to markets direct.

I still don't understand how it all works.


Summoned by Betjeman

Am looking forward to playing Sir John Betjeman again in 'Summoned by Betjeman'. It's nearly three years since the play was last performed and certain areas of production and performance are to change. It's a lovely piece to perform and with more music and many fresh Betjeman insights and anecdotes being added, it should be great fun.


Archie Rice

Have been approached to play Archie Rice in John Osborne's 'The Entertainer'. It's a role I've wanted to play since I was in Arnold Wesker's terrific production in the 80's. I played Frank Rice and shared a dressing room with Martin Clunes, whose first job it was.

it's very tempting, but I fear there is a clash of dates on another project. My fingers and toes are crossed,


No Balmoral

Am hugely relieved not to be taking over from Rik Mayall in Balmoral. Due to insurance complications and probably several other things, the tour has been cancelled. Went to see it last Saturday and it was clear - in spite of the valiant performances from the company - that the production was in very deep trouble. I have my own feelings about the causes, but they're best left unsaid. I have to admit, I couldn't quite see how I could have in any way improved things.

Sadly, the last thing a theatre and a company need in this economic climate is to go dark, but a national tour is cancelled and several very talented actors are now unemployed. Hopefully not for long.

But for was nice to have been asked. it's even nicer not to have had to go and do it.


In Rik Mayall's Shoes 

Have been asked to take over the role of Skinner in Michael Frayn's comedy farce 'Balmoral'. Sadly Rik Mayall has had to withdraw in the last week of rehearsals due to ill health. The play is the last production of this years Sir Peter Hall season in Bath and is due to set off on a nationwide tour followed by a possible West End run.

Rik Mayall has been a comedy hero of mine for years and the thought of trying to step into his shoes in this very difficult play fills me with dread. It's also a challenge and though I try to side step challenges a much as possible, sometimes you have to give yourself a push. I think. I trust.

I hope Rik makes a very speedy recovery and returns to centre stage 'comedy central' as soon as possible.