I doubt if any young actors keep a stash of false face hair in their stage kit, nowadays. Some years back most young actors expected to be asked to play parts way older than their real ages. Unavoidably, if you were in a school play, someone had to play the old guys – just as someone had to play the girls in a boys’ school – then. Mixed association with a girls’ school was slow to take off. Even at drama school it made reasonable sense for someone to age up, because almost all the students were young. But then I discovered it was dead normal to cast youths in ancient parts in the professional theatre, also. If you were in a decently funded company, as I was at the Old Vic, then you expected the management to cough up for the hair pieces. But after sticking them on and ripping them off for a whole season, you were welcome to keep them, and so you acquired a little store of ‘useful’ disguises. In this box there is a fairly full Abe Lincoln beard, a cheeky French chin beard, a white strip of fuzz for an ancient retainer – and a pair of startling, reddish eyebrows. I have no recollection of when and where I used any of them.
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About my new book
I’ve spent 70 years as an actor, writer and director, and Are You Going to do That Little Jump? The Adventure Continues is stuffed full of backstage stories: about the sitcoms I was in – Keep It in the Family, Porridge, Rising Damp, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, Reggie Perrin, and dozens more; about my forays into live theatre – from irksomerep, to risky Fringe, to the spine-tingling RSC and treacherous, seductive Broadway. And it’s right up to date with recent movies – Lost in London and Peterloo.