Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Shaun on Life Behind Bars. Porridge Is Doing Time at Darlington Civic Theatre Next Week and JOANNE WELFORD Gets Locked Up in Conversation with Leading Man Shaun Williamson

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Shaun on Life Behind Bars. Porridge Is Doing Time at Darlington Civic Theatre Next Week and JOANNE WELFORD Gets Locked Up in Conversation with Leading Man Shaun Williamson

Article excerpt

Byline: JOANNE WELFORD

SHAUN Williamson doesn't sound at all like I expected.

He's on the other end of the phone and we are chatting about his forthcoming visit to Darlington's Civic Theatre in the touring production of PORRIDGE.

In my naivety, I am fully expecting him to sound just like Barry from EastEnders -most people would agree that's probably the part he is best known for.

Or maybe as himself as "Barry from EastEnders" in Ricky Gervais' hilarious Extras.

In fact, he sounds nothing at all like that. His voice is softer and minus the cock-er-ney twang although, hailing from Kent, his accent is southern.

It is quite disconcerting at first, but he is very pleasant and cheerful on the other end of the line despite it being very early on a Monday morning.

He doesn't mind me referring to EastEnders and no, he had no inkling of who killed Archie Mitchell.

He admits to having seen just a handful of episodes of the soap since poor Barry was pushed down a Scottish hillside and left to die by his scheming wife Janine six years ago.

His theatre and TV work have kept him busy and between that and his young family, there's not much time left over.

Shaun is currently playing Fletcher in the stage production of Porridge -the role immortalised on the small screen by Ronnie Barker.

They are big shoes to step into, he agrees, but the play has been a hit up and down the country.

I'm interested to know how he got the part.

"Somebody just phoned me up about it," says Shaun.

"I had to go along and meet the writers -I knew the original writers were involved and that with it being their baby, it had to be right.

"I watched every episode on TV in the '70s when it first came out.

Ronnie Barker was 45 and I was 10, I'm now the same age as he was -45."

He's also physically much like Ronnie Barker -and about the same weight, he chuckles.

"I didn't want to do an impression of him," he insists.

"If I had, I would only come off second best. I'm the same age he was and the same weight, but I use my own voice. It has gone down really well. …

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