We chatted to the actor about starring in the upcoming world premiere of Backstairs Billy at the Duke of York’s Theatre.
Hi Ian, how does it feel to be part of the world premiere of Backstairs Billy? It feels like an absolute treat! It’s a wonderful new play with a brilliant cast, and a fabulous
director – what’s not to like?
Could you tell me a little bit more about what audiences can expect? I think they can expect to see a very human story on one level, a very funny one on another, take a little peek behind the curtains at royal life and hopefully have a good laugh!
How has it been working on the production so far? So far, brilliant. But of course when you work on a comedy, particularly a new comedy, you get to that point in rehearsals when you think, are people going to laugh? Which can be nerve-racking. But then you watch Iwan Davies drop a tray in front of the Queen Mother and you think yes, yes they will.
What was it that stood out for you about the story? The uniqueness of the relationship between the Queen Mother and Billy (played impeccably by Penelope Wilton and Luke Evans) and the years it spanned, the way that they kept each other company over that period of time. Also, it takes place during a rather turbulent period politically, which has some interesting parallels with what’s happening now.
Could you tell me more about the character you play? I play Kerr, the Queen Mother’s private secretary, who is very much an establishment figure and is locked in something of a power struggle with Billy. Kerr likes things done ‘by the book’, whereas Billy is a lot more unorthodox – something which Kerr finds utterly infuriating.
What in your mind makes Backstairs Billy worth coming to see? It’s a new play in the West End, which is always exciting! It’s very funny and rather poignant with one or two surprises along the way. It should be enormous fun so come and see us!
By Emma Clarendon