Moore Prepares for 'Odd' City Debut; Philip Key Meets One of Britain's Hardest Working Actors Who Is about to Visit Liverpool in My Fair Lady

Article excerpt

Byline: Philip Key

ACTOR Stephen Moore is brutally frank about his career. "I don't turn down anything unless I can't possibly get there," he says.

It has meant he has had one of those busy, always-working careers which has made him one of the most familiar faces on television and stage.

It also brings him to Liverpool's Empire Theatre next month in the National Theatre production of My Fair Lady. He is playing Colonel Pickering, the man whose bet with Professor Higgins turns flower girl Eliza into the My Fair Lady of the title.

We are talking in Bristol where the production is having a run before arriving in Liverpool from March 14.

He is in good form, the production a hit and Moore enjoying himself in what is only his second musical.

"The only other one was Poppy which I did at the Barbican with the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was performed like a pantomime and was about the English selling opium to the Chinese and getting them high. That's how we got Hong Kong.

"It was very political but very funny as well."

It also produced one of musical theatre's more unusual numbers. "I played a character named Jack Idle, normally called Idle Jack, who looked after the horses. I was given this lovely song which I sang to a horse. It was very moving," he laughs. "It was almost a love song."

The London-born actor has played everything from strong drama to television comedy. There has also been a lot of radio - he was in Barchester Towers, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and similar series for which he still gets a small income from the audio market. "It comes in dribs and drabs but not enough to keep me in my old age. Just after Christmas there is usually a few bob."

He recently picked up much praise for his leading role in the West End play Festen based, unusually, on a Danish film. He thinks it was one of the best things he has done and it ran for eight months.

"It was a drama with some very black comedy in it," he says. He played a father celebrating a birthday to which he had invited his children. "It all turns out rather nasty and things are revealed. They all go off and leave me alone which is better than he deserves."

But it is comedy he likes playing best. He has been in the Lenny Henry Show and in Henry Enfield and Chums he was the father of the ghastly youngster Kevin. "I'm rather proud of that," he says. "I never look down on comedy as something less than drama. There are probably some things I wouldn't do - but I have never been asked to do them. …