Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Paul Catches Up with John. Again; Main Stage: Run for Your Wife

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Paul Catches Up with John. Again; Main Stage: Run for Your Wife

Article excerpt

Byline: Keith Newton reports

THE stars have been queuing up for years to play a character in Ray Cooney's frantic farce RUN FOR YOUR WIFE.

Just ask Paul Henry. Eternally remembered as woolly hatted Benny Hawkins from Crossroads, he first joined the wacky race in the eighties for a major national tour that later took it on to Canada.

"Run For Your Wife was still running in London's West End at the time," he recalls, "but the tour was a great success. I loved it. We came here and played to packed houses."

Now he returns a quarter of a century later as the show opens the latest month long summer repertory season at the Civic Theatre in Darlington on Tuesday.

He joins a cast that also features Melvyn Hayes, Barry Howard, Michelle Morris, Mark Wingett, Tiffany Graves and David Callister.

The crazy comedy, first seen on stage in 1982, is about a taxi driver called John Smith who has two lives, two wives and lots more of everything.

He manages to keep his two worlds apart until he gallantly intervenes in a mugging, becomes a hero, and finds everyone wants to know his complete life story.

"I played John Smith last time," says Paul. "Now I'm Bobby Franklin, the lad upstairs."

Melvyn Hayes had Paul's role then but now is Stanley Gardner, another unfortunate friend of the taxi driver.

David Callister, who won the Civic rep season's favourite star award last year, returns as John Smith.

"We are doing Run For Your Wife for six months and it'll be fun," says Paul.

He was a regular for 12 years in Crossroads, ITV's motel-set soap that ran from 1964-88. In its heyday, it was so popular, it was in a permanent battle for supremacy with Coronation Street.

"Twenty million people used to watch me," he recalls.

Paul played Benny, the bumbling handyman with the odd Midlands accent and a crush on Miss Diane from 1975-1988, but his contract kept him tied to filming for only six months each year, allowing him to do theatre tours and pantomimes.

The role was created by a writer friend and Paul quickly made it his own. He devised the character's look down to the famous woolly hat which he originally borrowed from his brother. …

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