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|FROM MESSIAH TO MURDER
Interviewing the son of God is not how I normally start my day. I almost feel like confessing the chocolate-binge of the night before and the charity collection envelope still sitting unposted on my hall table.
But somehow, I’m sure Robert Powell will not be interested in my minor transgressions. So, fingers crossed, we get chatty about his latest acting role and don’t mention the 1970’s TV epic Jesus of Nazareth which first brought him international fame.
After all, he’s currently trying to get away with murder as a crime writer who wants to bump off his partner in thriller Murder by Misadventure.
The play sees him teamed up with Liza Goddard and comes to Coventry next week as part of a nationwide tour.
“To be honest nine times out of ten I say no to the things that are sent to me,” says Powell, “but then the tenth one will have something that will appeal to me.” Although not a big fan of thrillers himself, Robert says he felt Murder by Misadventure was well written and had audience appeal.
“The tour’s going well and lots of people are coming to see us,” he says, “and I get to go home most weekends. It’s a good play, with a nice cast and they pay us very well.”
The Salford lad has certainly come a long way from the days when he first appeared as a scientist in 70s series Doomwatch. He says he has no idea where he would have ended up if acting hadn’t come along, although he might have become a lawyer.
Glossy TV epic Jesus of Nazareth is still the role most people remember him for but, as well as films like The Thirty Nine Steps and Mahler, he’s also proved his talent for comedy with Jasper Carrot in The Detectives.
But the 57-year-old has no desire to keep treading the boards forever. “Oh, no,” he says horrified at the very idea. “I don’t want to turn 80 and find I’m too old to do everything I want to do, like go to the Antarctic.”
Robert is not joking about wanting to head off to the Antarctic. He’d also like to go to China and he says “hundreds of places”.
The wanderlust is obviously shared by his wife and former Pan’s People dancer Babs. The self-confesed landlubber packed her bags and took part in the 32,000 mile BT Global Challenge round-the-world yacht race earlier this year.
The race took 10 months and spanned five continents and Robert caught up with her during the New Zealand to Australia leg.
“I’m not adventurous,” he insists “but I was invited to go ocean-going sailing and compete against her in a different yacht. It was something I would never have volunteered for, but I was invited to go along and went. I had some training which was tough, but being out there sailing was amazing. Neither of us are sailors and we’re not going to go out and get our own boat, but we can crew for someone which is a great option.”
The world is definetly the couple’s oyster now their children Kate and Barney are growing up. And to Robert’s relief, they show no desire to follow his acting footsteps. “Kate’s at university and my son’s a website developer,” he says, “thank Christ, they don’t want to act.”
By Marion Mcmullen, Coventry Evening Telegraph, October 19, 2001
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