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Another helping of Dinnerladies?

PUBLISHED: 10:14 26 March 2009 | UPDATED: 17:13 16 August 2010

HAPPY: Andrew Dunn, above. Right, cast of the TV version.

HAPPY: Andrew Dunn, above. Right, cast of the TV version.

THE STAR of a new theatre production of the classic comedy Dinnerladies has spoken candidly about the difficulties facing actors during the recession. Andrew Dunn, who played Tony in the 1990s television series written by and starring Victoria Wood, has

THE STAR of a new theatre production of the classic comedy Dinnerladies has spoken candidly about the difficulties facing actors during the recession.

Andrew Dunn, who played Tony in the 1990s television series written by and starring Victoria Wood, has a lead role in the stage adaptation coming to The Churchill theatre in Bromley from June 22 to June 27.

Speaking to the Times and Reporter last Friday, Andrew, who has appeared in Coronation Street, The Bill and Heartbeat, said he is enjoying the show but is just glad to be in work.

The 41-year-old added: "We have got a good reaction from the audience. We're in Malvern at the moment and it's going down very well here. Considering we only had two weeks to rehearse, it's going good!

"But actors are suffering because of the credit crunch as well. I don't know what I'm going to do after this - times are tough at the moment. Whether it's TV or theatre, it's hard to get work. I'm just happy to be in work really - I've got a family to feed and a mortgage to pay like everyone else!"

The show's tour started in Eastbourne earlier this month and is due to run for 19 weeks, until July 18, with the final performance in Richmond.

The Leeds-born actor stars alongside fellow northerner Shobna Gulati, who played Anita in the original BBC series, which ran from 1998 to 2000.

Victoria Wood helped David Graham adapt the script from the TV show, which centred on the oddball characters in a factory canteen.

Andrew said: "The rest of the cast have done exceptionally well at re-creating the TV characters. Hats off to them. Laura Shepherds in particular has her work cut out playing Victoria's role, Bren, but she's very good.

"It's great working with Shobna again - she's a lovely person."

Jokingly, he added: "We're sharing digs at the moment and she likes to cook, which is great for me!"

He believes the secret of the show's continued success is the quality of the script.

Andrew said: "She just crammed so many jokes into such a short space. Anyone else would have got about three episodes out of one of her episodes. She's fantastic at quick-fire gags. TV comedies aren't like that anymore.

"I think its appeal lies in the fact that she picks out the funny, bizarre moments of everyday life - it's observational comedy really. Everyone can relate to it."

Based on the second of two series, the play follows the reluctant love story of Bren and Tony, egged on by Dolly, Jean, Twinkle and Anita.

In the original, Andrew played Tony Martin, the canteen manager whose battle against cancer prompted him to want to do more with his life than running a canteen.

He is attracted to Bren, but is too shy to reveal this to her for a long time and the hapless Bren feels the same, resulting in a touching romance.

Andrew said that the stage performances are similar to the TV version in that they were filmed in front of a live audience.

"Because of that, it was quite an easy transition to make," he added.

"Plus I've done quite a lot of theatre work over the years, so I'm quite happy in that environment."

Referring to the current financial meltdown, he said: "Now is an ideal time to bring Dinnerladies to the stage. We need some escapist comedy to lighten things up a bit.

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