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Christopher Timothy relishing role at the Lichfield Garrick

I’ve noticed actors tend to have young faces. It must come from always having to record the fleeting emotions of a million different characters that keeps their features malleable, unlike the rest of us who have to suffer every year’s toll.

You couldn’t guess Christopher Timothy’s age. Only his CV gives an insight into how long and illustrious his career has been so far. Most well-known for playing the young vet in All Creatures Great and Small he’s gone on to star in just about every entertainment medium in existence over the last few decades including his current star role in Haunting Julia at the Lichfield Garrick.

I asked if he’d always wanted to act. His reply was instant. “Since I was eight,” he says decisively. For a lad who hails from Bala in North Wales this ambition shows a determination beyond the ordinary.

Christopher Timothy in Haunting Julia

Christopher Timothy in Haunting Julia

He was turned onto live theatre by the magic of a woodland scene in a Chrismas panto and the antics of Jewel and Warris, a class variety act of their day. I asked if his parents had discouraged him from aspiring to a career in this notoriously unreliable profession. “No,” he says. “But my relatives did.”

He won the John Gielgud Scholarship and the Laurence Olivier Prize during his time at the Central School of Speech and Drama, went straight on to Broadway in Chips With Everything and then did three years at the National Theatre. Not a bad start to a career.

I noticed from his CV that he seems to have done stage, film and TV work in equal measures. I asked whether he didn’t find stage acting too exposing. “You don’t think the camera’s exposing!” he exploded. “It picks up every single thought!” I tried again. “What I mean is, do you have a favourite medium. “No,” he says emphatically, “I like them all equally. I’ve done a lot of radio too, and that requires just as much skill and patience. The truth is, I just love acting! ”

Where does this urge to act come from, I wonder. “Actors,” he says, “are happier when they’re being someone else.” “Are they all insecure,” I ask. “I think so,” is his reply. I tell him that he doesn’t come across as insecure, but he brushes this aside. What kind of actor does he admire, I ask. “The ones without vanity.” For him co-star Richard O’Callaghan comes into this category. They met while they were both performing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in the West End (“one of the most joyous experiences of my life”) and are still firm friends.

So what does he think about Haunting Julia? “Ayckbourn’s a great playwright,” he says, “whose plays will outlast most other twentieth century dramatists. There is darkness in this play, but it’s his ability to mix comedy and tragedy that is his real talent.”

Our time’s up (he’s got to go off and do a radio interview) and I ask if he’s happy with the way our conversation’s gone. “Just don’t make me look stupid,” he says.

I couldn’t. He’s too bright.

Christopher Timothy is currently starring in Haunting Julia at the Lichfield Garrick which runs until May 14 before transferring to London’s Riverside Studios. For tickets phone the box office on 01543 412121 or go online at www.lichfieldgarrick.com.

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