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Q&A: Adrian Scarborough

First Published 10 September 2012, Last Updated 19 September 2012

Since his award-winning turn in the National Theatre’s After The Dance, Gavin And Stacey’s Adrian Scarborough doesn’t seem to have been off our screens, cropping up for comic performances in Upstairs, Downstairs, Psychoville and, most recently of all, that most iconic of series, Doctor Who.

But luckily for us, Scarborough has returned to the stage to star in a very different role, taking on the famously intense Hedda Gabler alongside Sheridan Smith at the Old Vic theatre. He spoke to Official London Theatre and told us how the show may have a few more laughs than you’d expect, what it’s like to fly by the seat of your pants and why he dreams of being Dolly.

What first sparked your interest in performing?
I loved being taken to the theatre as a child. Auditoria always seemed magical to me. They still do.

What has your experience been like of working on Hedda Gabler so far?
I think we’ve all been surprised at how funny Brian Friel’s version is. We’re just starting to run the play, which brings a whole new oxygenating experience to acting. Currently flying by the seat of my pants. Hope they stay up.

Is your character interesting to play?
He is fantastically complex. He says “Oh my goodness” a lot. That’s sort of how I felt when we first started rehearsals. I’m still feeling it now.

What did winning an Olivier Award mean to you?
Anything that brings Rattigan’s play After The Dance wider recognition is a good thing by me. It was quite a twinkly night that one; Sondheim, Lansbury, Rose. I never fail to smile broadly at the memory.

Has it changed your career at all?
It doesn’t appear to have changed my career a jot, but it has changed me.

What is the finest performance you have ever seen?
Theatrically, Alec Guinness in A Walk In The Woods. Simply masterful. However, four seals off the coast of Cape Town come a close second for blatant upstaging.

If you could create a fantasy production to star in, who would you cast, who would direct and what would it be?
The show would be Hello, Dolly! with me as Dolly Levi and Paul Ritter as Horace Vandergelder. Paul Ready as Cornelius, Michelle Terry as Irene and Hannah Waddingham as my understudy for when I did a bunk. Directed by Anne Reid [between anecdotes]. When do we start?

Screen or stage?
Stage, the buzz is immense. Though filming Doctor Who came pretty close.

Comedy or drama?
Perhaps a comedy drama.

What do you do when you’re not performing or rehearsing?
Eat too much.

Who or what has inspired you?                                                                                     
My wife says she does. I’d actually have to agree, though my kids and their friends are pretty amazing too.

Do you have any regrets?
Well….not really. I’ve had an amazing life so far. Maybe I could have trusted my guts more as a younger man.

Have you made any sacrifices for the sake of your career?
All the damn time, it comes with the territory. My family valiantly put up with most of them. Though the older I get, the bolder I am about saying no.

What advice would you like to impart on the world?
I was happily reacquainted with a pearl of John Ruskin wisdom last week: “Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.”

What could you not be without?
My soulmate, my wife.

Do you have any passions in life people might be surprised to hear about?
I have an allotment. I’m also quite passionate about my allotment shed. Terrible season this year; no soft fruit to speak of, disappointing cabbages and my garlic got shocking rust.

Where do you head after a performance?
Euston Station.

How would you like to be remembered?
Thinner than at present – below is the reason why.

What would you choose as a last meal?
Bacon Fries, pork scratchings and a barrel of Tanglefoot – please tell the Badger Brewery I put this.

What ambitions would you like to fulfil?
I need to do more whale-watching. I must learn to play the guitar. I would like to play Uncle Vanya, King Lear and a panto Dame. The icing on that cake would be if they were all in the same season.

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
A Bradypus – a three-toed sloth.


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