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INTERVIEW: Nigel Havers on playing the evil sheriff in Robin Hood at Plymouth Theatre Royal

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 02, 2014

  • CHARMER: Nigel Havers.

  • IN CHARACTER: Nigel with panto colleague Lee Mead.

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TV Charmer Nigel Havers (his name, incidentally, is an anagram of girls' heaven) plays the evil Sheriff of Nottingham in this year's panto Robin Hood at the Plymouth Theatre Royal. Rosanna Rothery chats to the actor known for roles in Chariots Of Fire, The Charmer and Coronation Street.

Are you looking forward to playing a meanie?

I am a meanie. I play meanies every year. I love doing it. It's great fun being the meanie. If I couldn't do it I'd be very upset.

Do you mind being cast as the villain?

Not at all. It's not such hard work as playing the nice guy. Being nice all the time is really hard work.

Is there a fine line between being horrid and being terrifying?

Yes. One year I played Captain Hook and I terrified kids so much I decided that wasn't the way to do it. I'm a little bit more – how shall I put it – sort of pantomime camp now.

Is the sheriff a well-heeled wretch?

He's quite posh and speaks like this [puts on a throaty, upper class voice – an exaggeration of his own distinctive purr].

Do you get to wear some great costumes?

I wear some interesting costumes. I can't say great is exactly the right word. I'm mostly in black. You can't go wrong with black.

Does Robin Hood tend to appeal to action-loving little boys?

I think it's one for the kids generally. We have bows and arrows and there is an archery competition. I do a few sword fights of course. There is a lot of action and there are a lot of scary things that happen. There is a very big spider. Make sure you are not too near the front or he will come out and get you.

Do you make New Year's resolutions?

My New Year's resolution is not to make resolutions. By the second week of January you've forgotten what you said. It's a waste of time!

Do you not like New Year?

My father hated New Year and I think I inherited it. He used to say "I can't stand this nonsense about New Year, it's just another day". If you were brought up that way, that's what you think of it. I don't get romantic about that, not at all.

Do you always like to do panto?

I have to take a year out of panto this time next year because I am going to be a grandfather. My daughter is having a baby in June so I promised that I will be with the family. My step daughter has also just had a baby, so we are all going to be together.

Are you looking forward to being a grandfather?

Yes I am! I've waited long enough.

We saw you recently on BBC One's Who Do You Think You Are? Were you surprised to find out you are a West Country boy?

I discovered my ancestors come from Cornwall. I am very glad because I really like it down here. I feel very comfortable here. I think it's amazing! It's like another country – perhaps that explains why you can't get a proper phone signal.

Will you explore the area while you are in panto?

On my days off I am going to have a look around. I shall probably go to Padstow and stay a night at Rick Stein's place which I am looking forward to.

Why should people come to see Robin Hood?

It's fun! It's not ridiculously long and if it is, I shall just have to cut some of Bobby Davro's stuff. Obviously I won't cut mine!

You can have a good old shout and join in. It's really good entertainment. Panto is unlike anything else in the world.

Nigel Havers stars alongside top West End star Lee Mead, comedy legend Bobby Davro and sitcom favourite Jeffrey Holland in Robin Hood at Plymouth's Theatre Royal until Saturday, January 25. Box office: 01752 267222 or www.theatre royal.com/panto.

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