|TIM FRANCES BIOGRAPHY|
"In Defence of Actors" by William Hazlitt
|2017: a move to new representation with MacFarlane Chard Associates ... And a return to Chichester Festival in Jonathan Kent's production of Sweet Bird of Youth with Marcia Gay Harden. Reunited with my fellow clown from The 39 Steps, Daniel Tuite.||
2016 sees an unbearably sad goodbye to Michael
The same day takes Tim Pigott-Smith and Christopher Morahan, jewels in the crown: privileged to have them both as friends. Farewell too to Howard Davies, lovely twinkling man and one of the very best.
2016 is a
ten-month Breakfast at Tiffany's - touring the UK & Ireland, and spending summer
back at the Haymarket in the West End. With Pixie Lott as Holly, directed by
Nikolai Foster. Another Nazi
for me - and a colossal pervert for good measure.
One the very
loveliest companies of cast & crew I have known: the kind of group for
which the word "company" is most apt.
2014 sees a reunion of the Globe & ETT team that produced Anne Boleyn. Led by John Dove and my number four with Howard Brenton: touring the country in Eternal Love. More work too with David Walliams in Big School for the BBC, working with Frances de la Tour and Steve Speirs. From the summer and on to Spring 2015, I had nine wonderful months in the West End hit, The 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre. A tremendous team onstage & backstage and a great, gruelling and hugely rewarding time had by all. The cake iced by the joyous and brilliant Patrick Barlow. Then, back with Colin Blumenau, this time at the Park Theatre playing the hairiest man in history, Anthony Trollope, in Lady Anna: All At Sea by Craig Baxter - and the privilege of reading for Trollope's 200th birthday celebrations in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.
2013: the joy of rehearsed readings writ large with two beauties: by Robert Armin at Shakespeare's Globe and by Henry Fielding at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. Armin was Shakespeare's Clown and Fielding invented the police. Not bad credentials. An equal joy is the heady cocktail of Regent's Park, The Sound of Music and Rachel Kavanaugh, plus of course having an irredeemably unpleasant Nazi to play. Being the hit of the summer in London iced the cake, with a win as Best Musical Revival at WhatsOnStage and a nomination for same at the Oliviers.
Delighted to say Christmas allows me to tick off another of those seasonal parts we dream of playing: Scrooge in A Christmas Carol with great old friend Guy Retallack directing: two planks and a passion theatre. Much fun too to be had with Julia McKenzie, David Walliams & Miranda Hart on Gangsta Granny for the BBC.
2012: kicks off with the great Howard
Brenton for a third outing - this time with
Anne Boleyn on tour for Shakespeare's Globe, directed by John Dove. I
played fugitive Bible-translator, William Tyndale. Huge credit to
Howard, John, a wonderful cast and crew, and everyone at The Globe and
ETT - the show won
Best Touring Production at the 2012 TMA
Awards. And an Olympic summer
with Adolf Hitler's 1936 Olympics
again, this time at Sadlers Wells. Then an 11th hour call-up to join
Northern Broadsides' tour of A Government
Inspector. After last year, a rewarding, full and happy 2012.
2010 sees a farewell to
Bumble (incarcerated in his own workhouse) and Sikes (hanged and suffering
hellfire) and a hello to another slightly psychologically disturbed
creature: Adolf Hitler (growing the moustache as I type) in Tom McNab's
new play 1936 at the Arcola Theatre.
And joining with Howard Brenton again, this time on his new
Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at Chichester Festival,
for Christopher Morahan - old fashioned political theatre provoking
huge passion, cheers and hatred alike - marvellous: very proud of this
one. And finally, a long-held dream come true - Captain Hook.
2008 was a lovely, creative and
inspiring year, with seven months at the National Theatre
and another two at the most exquisite Georgian gem, the Theatre Royal
Bury St Edmunds. First came the premier of Howard Brenton's
Never So Good charting the much
misunderstood and misrepresented life of Harold Macmillan, and the
opportunity to work with Howard Davies, Jeremy Irons and a
remarkable and wonderful company of people.
2007 ends in Edinburgh at the
Royal Lyceum, giving
my Wizard in The Wizard of Oz, complete with shaved head - marvellous. Kicked off
the year in
Stoke-on-Trent at the Most Welcoming Theatre in Britain (it's official),
The New Vic, in Richard Cameron's
Club - a beautiful play in a great house; directed by Theresa Heskins. Joyous and
laughter-filled. A very special summer (2006) spent at
an extraordinary theatre, Alan Ayckbourn's Stephen Joseph Theatre in
Scarborough: two new two-handed plays,
& The Prodigal Son, directed by Tamara Harvey. True passionate
Moving swiftly on to a
massively lovely return
to Salisbury Playhouse to play Bernard in
William (Shadowlands, Gladiator)
Nicholson's elegantly sad Map of the
Heart, directed by Fiona Laird.
Judith Scott's Ruth & Tim Frances as brother
Bernard ... are careful and detailed performances. They make a shared
history ... ReviewsGate.com Christmas
2004 at the Warehouse Theatre Croydon for
Femme Fatale - a musical pastiche of 40s
B-movies and film noir - a must see for RosieJenkins' beautiful eyes
Frances is superb as the fast-talking, ruthless Irwin and equally good as
the henchman Manfred... The
Stage. There is
staunch support from Tim Frances as a succession of menacing heavies...
Michael Billington in The Guardian ...
Have also been filming again
with Nick Copus for the BBC - a
futuristic thriller, What If Drugs Were Legal. Just done an episode of
My Dad's the Prime Minister
for the BBC - great to be working with producer Matthew
Recorded my first Radio for a while:
She Fell Among Thieves
for BBC, a wonderful
old-fashioned Buchan-esque British thriller where I am one of two very
classy gentlemen who save innocent young ladies and Empire alike from the
evil clutches Honor Blackman. Damn fine larks.
Way the most bonkers period was spent in Canada filming on the off-the-wall sci-fi series Lexx. I have long ago given up the thought of ever playing Heathcliff or Romeo, but the idea of Puck never even crossed my mind, yet here I was, giving my majorly pastiched fairy (in every non-pc sense of the word) in the weirdest show on TV. Naturally it was enormous fun, very liberating of my feminine side. Alongside these was a nice little bunch of good old TV soaps - I am alas no longer part of that most exclusive actors' club: those who have never done The Bill. I also got to pick up a dose in Doctors, and bury a regular in Holby City.
as Puck in Lexx with Brian Downey as Stanley Tweedle
This time also saw the beginning of what I hope very much will be an ongoing working relationship with director Nick Copus, with two short films for the BBC. Crashing a WW2 Wellington bomber, and playing a seriously screwed-up wife-beater in a black fright wig, courtesy wonderful costume designer Naomi Elliott. Daft times galore on the feature film That Deadwood Feeling, for director/writer/producer brothers Mark & Simon Ubsdell. DVD on Amazon! Superb grandstanding performance from David Soul. And Dexter Fletcher: you are possibly the funniest man in the history of the world.
Prior to these, I had a wonderful fifteen
months with Stephen Daldry's now legendary
An Inspector Calls,
on tour and luxuriously in London's West End (I still have proprietary
feelings about the Garrick Theatre), playing Gerald Croft. A tremendous
part, with some wonderful actors - including the delightful Bryan Murray,
Denis Lill, dear friend Sophie Arnold (in white, opposite) and
that fabulous powerhouse Marjorie Yates (second from left opposite).
An Inspector Calls Company, Garrick Theatre 2000
from "In Defence of Actors" by William Hazlitt (1817)
PLAYERS are "the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time;" the motley representatives of human nature. They are the only honest hypocrites. Their life is a voluntary dream; a studied madness. The height of their ambition is to be beside themselves. To-day kings, to-morrow beggars, it is only when they are themselves, that they are nothing. Made up of mimic laughter and tears, passing from the extremes of joy or woe at the prompter's call, they wear the livery of other men's fortunes; their very thoughts are not their own. They are, as it were, train-bearers in the pageant of life, and hold a glass up to humanity, frailer than itself. We see ourselves at second-hand in them: they show us all that we are, all that we wish to be, and all that we dread to be.
The stage is an epitome, a bettered likeness of the world, with the dull part left out: and, indeed, with this omission, it is nearly big enough to hold all the rest. What brings the resemblance nearer is, that, as they imitate us, we, in our turn, imitate them. How many fine gentlemen do we owe to the stage? How many romantic lovers are mere Romeos in masquerade? How many soft bosoms have heaved with Juliet's sighs? They teach us when to laugh and when to weep, when to love and when to hate, upon principle and with a good grace! ...
Actors have been accused, as a profession of being extravagant and dissipated. While they are said to be so as a piece of common cant, they are likely to continue so. With respect to the extravagance of actors, as a traditional character, it is not to be wondered at. They live from hand to mouth: they plunge from want to luxury; they have no means of making money breed, and all professions that do not live by turning money into money, or have not a certainty of accumulating it in the end by parsimony, spend it. Uncertain of the future, they make sure of the present moment. This is not unwise. Chilled with poverty, steeped in contempt, they sometimes pass into the sunshine of fortune, and are lifted to the very pinnacle of public favour; yet, even there, they cannot calculate on the continuance of success. With respect to the habit of convivial indulgence, an actor, to be a good one, must have a great spirit of enjoyment in himself—strong impulses, strong passions, and a strong sense of pleasure; for it his business to imitate the passions, to communicate pleasure to others. A man of genius is not a machine. The neglected actor may be excused if he drinks oblivion of his disappointments; the successful one if he quaffs the applause of the world in draughts of nectar. There is no path so steep as that of fame: no labour so hard as the pursuit of excellence. If there is any tendency to dissipation beyond this in the profession of the player, it is owing to the prejudices entertained against them. Players are only not so respectable as a profession as they might be, because their profession is not respected as it ought to be.