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Roy takes on The Hobbit

PUBLISHED: 17:51 28 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:52 01 July 2010

Derek James

He is a great ambassador for Norfolk and one of our most respected actors but this time around he will be behind the scenes when his stage version of The Hobbit arrives in Norwich. Roy Masden spoke to DEREK JAMES.

He is a great ambassador for Norfolk and one of our most respected actors but this time around he will be behind the scenes when his stage version of The Hobbit arrives in Norwich. Roy Marsden talks to DEREK JAMES.

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The talk got around to probably the biggest star ever to have been born in Norwich. His name was Richard Hearne and he turned into the world's first international TV celebrity with a crazy name…Mr Pastry.

He had been born opposite Norwich Theatre Royal more than a century ago and made his first appearance on the stage as a babe in arms when just a few weeks old. “I tell people about him when we come to the theatre. There is a plaque honouring him. I hope it is still there,” says actor turned director Roy Marsden.

Chatting to Roy about Mr P, Norfolk, his life and times and his latest project directing the stage version of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit, which arrives at Norwich Theatre Royal next week, is an absolute joy.

Born Roy Mould in London during the Second World War, he is however a Norfolk boy through and through. His parents, Phyllis and Cyril Mould, brought him to North Norfolk when he was a lad.

His mother, Phyllis Mould (nee Earl) came from Swanton Novers. The family home is at Gunthorpe, near Fakenham, where he grew up and still regards as home.

“It's that part of North Norfolk where it starts to get a bit hilly. It is just the most perfect place on God's earth,” he said.

“There is nowhere like this in the world,” said Roy, who has done a fair amount of travelling in his time who also loves to return to Norfolk where he also loves sailing.

“It is just heaven and I love it. I will never leave it. It is my spiritual home and the place where I shall die, and will finish up in the cemetery along with the rest of the family,” he added. “I am especially fond of Fakenham. A wonderful town full of great people.”

Roy picked the name Marsden for his acting career after spotting it on a tombstone in a local churchyard and set off to learn his craft at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) before working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and becoming classically trained.

Although most people remember him on television playing the likes of steely-eyed detective Adam Dalgliesh he has been a busy and prolific actor and director during his time on stage and screen.

“My whole life has been the theatre really. Television has only been a period away from it - one which has been very enjoyable,” said Roy.

His version of The Hobbit is a fantastic family fantasy and a spectacular show which unfolds before your eyes. “Putting on The Hobbit is a real challenge,” he admits. “It has been rather take taking part in a steeplechase in Fakenham. So many hurdles to get over.”

But he is proud of this new production now touring the country. “It is a big family show which I am extremely excited about so I do hope people will come along and join us on this magical journey,” he adds.

Adapted from JRR Tolkein's magical tale of battles, dwarves, wizards and derring-do this offering introduces some sparking new magical effects.

It is a show which Roy has thrown his heart and soul into and people up and down the country are loving it.

For those who don't know, it tells the tale of Bilbo Baggins, a quiet and contented Hobbit, who has his life turned upside down when he is chosen by Gandalf the Sorcerer to join Thorin Oakenshield, exiled king of the dwarves, on his quest to reclaim their kingdom and treasure.

It's quite a journey though the Misty Mountains dodging trolls, goblins, wolves, giant spiders and a deadly dragon.

“I can promise men, women and older children a terrific time,” said Roy who points out they have made the seats as cheap as possible because he they realise how expensive a night at the theatre can be. “We want families to be able to afford to enjoy a night out at the theatre. And The Hobbit is special,” he adds.

Having the show visit the Theatre Royal is special to Roy. He always loved filming across East Anglia in his most famous role as the poetry-loving and thoughtful policeman Adam Dalgliesh in the adaptation of P D James' novels. Roy played the character for 15 years between 1983 and 1998.

“PD James was such a wonderful writer - it was always a privilege to make the programmes,” he recalls. “They were such happy days working with a great bunch of characters at Anglia TV.”

Roy has appeared in a host of other popular TV shows, including Only Fools and Horses and Foyle's War, but now he is delighted to be back in theatre land.

t The Hobbit runs at Norwich Theatre Royal from June 1-5, £16.50-£5, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

www.thehobbittour.co.uk

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