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Biggins does the Time Warp again

PUBLISHED: 17:23 04 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:04 01 July 2010

Emma Lee

Dammit, Janet - the Rocky Horror Show is back at the Theatre Royal. And king of the I'm a Celebrity… jungle, Christopher Biggins, is making a welcome return to the city as the Narrator. EMMA LEE spoke to him.

Dammit, Janet - the Rocky Horror Show is back at the Theatre Royal. And king of the I'm a Celebrity… jungle, Christopher Biggins, is making a welcome return to the city as the Narrator. EMMA LEE speaks to him.

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Let's do the Time Warp again.

Next week the risqué romp the Rocky Horror Show is back in Norwich. And it marks the return of a Theatre Royal favourite - and fully fledged national treasure - to the city.

Christopher Biggins has had a long-running association with the cult of Rocky Horror. Penned by Richard O'Brien, the rock and roll musical follows squeaky clean Brad and Janet as they accidentally end up in the warped world of Frank n Furter, Magenta and co and features classic songs such as Sweet Transves-tite, Dammit Janet and, of course, the Time Warp.

Back in 1975, Biggins played a Transylvanian in the big screen version of the musical, alongside Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon, and he has graced the stage as the Narrator on many occasions since.

Grabbing a quick chat with Event, the ebullient entertainer says that he loves coming back to the show, which opens on Monday night - especially as it's one which is so beloved by its audience.

“The Narrator is a great role,” Biggins says. “It's lovely, because there's audience participation - and it's got so many fans. And they love the fact that I was in the film - it's an added bonus for them.

“It was a great honour to be a member of the original film,” he continues. “It was just fantastic and really wonder-ful because it became such a classic.”

Did Biggins have any idea when they were making the film that it was destined to become such an enduring favourite? “No, not at all,” he says. “We had no idea and it was a bit of a flop when it first came out. It was only when America took it under its wing that it became a big smash hit.”

Accomplished stage actor Biggins has performed at Norwich Theatre Royal many times over the years in a wide range of shows, including Charley's Aunt, Summer Holiday and the 1994-95 pantomime Aladdin, alongside Peter Simon and Catherine Rabett.

He says that he loves coming to Norwich. “I've done lots of things in Norwich, and I'm really looking forward to coming back enormously. It's a beautiful city and the theatre is glorious. The redevelopment is fantastic,” he says.

The Rocky Horror Show is fame for its audience participation, something which he clearly loves and is well used to from his panto roles. “There's a fantastic audience participation, just like Rocky Horror. You are engaging an audience to come in to a theatre at a very young age. And if they like what they see they might come back the next year or go and see another show. It's a breeding ground for the theatre in a way,” he says.

He's also a regular on our TV screens, having appeared in many shows, including Porridge, The Likely Lads, Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em, and Bad Girls.

Then, of course, there's his memorable performances as Emperor Nero in the award-winning BBC series I, Claudius and then as Reverend Ossie Whitworth the wicked vicar in the hugely popular series Poldark.

Why did Biggins want to become an actor? “There are three things I wanted to be - an actor, a chef and a vicar,” he says. “And I've played all three as an actor.”

Does he have any characters he's played that he's particularly fond of? “I loved playing Nero and Ossie Whitworth,” he says. “I've been so lucky to play so many varied roles on stage and television. I love the mixture, I like doing theatre, it's nice to do all different things.”

And, of course, braving the bugs in the I'm a Celebrity…jungle in 2007 won him a new generation of fans and elevated him to 'national treasure' status.

He didn't realise what appearing on the ITV1 reality show would do to his career. “I did it to get myself a little pension,” he laughs. “I thought if I could get fourth like David Gest, I'd have done very well. To go on and actually win it was an extraordinary thing and quite fantastic. It was a joy to come out and find the love that was going on. I would say I loved every moment of it, I wouldn't have missed it for the world…but I wouldn't do it again!”

t The Rocky Horror Show is at Norwich Theatre Royal, June 7-12, £18-£6, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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