About me
Robert Powell swaps cinema for theatre
Robert Powell has moved from TV detective to theatrical spy, writes CHRIS PATTERSON

There is plenty of scope for comedy in espionage - just look at the tongue-in-cheek approach Roger Moore brought to the James Bond role and Mike Myers went even further in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Actors Robert Powell and Liza Goddard will be exploring this brand of humour on stage at the Churchill Theatre next week in Alan Bennett's play, Single Spies.

Powell is no stranger to crime scripts having filmed five series of The Detectives alongside comic Jasper Carrot.

The actor explained what attracted him to Bennett's play: "It is just good writing combined with the play's challenging structure.

"I have to play two spies at once, which has proved a huge learning curve but I'm only happy when being challenged."

Single Spies consists of two plays called An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution. The first follows the exploits of real-life double agent Guy Burgess during vodka-soaked lunches and charm offensives.

The second play looks at another infamous spy, Anthony Blunt a man perfectly at home in the corridors of Buckingham Palace posing as a pillar of the establishment and an international art salesman.

Leisuretime asked Powell how far it was necessary to research the characters of these infamous turncoats. He said: "It does help to know who you're trying to portray intimately but when all's said and done, we're working from a script and the play is not historically accurate."

And what of Powell's once-legendary screen presence? "Nothing on TV interests me anymore. It has all gone rather stale. I'm far happier in the theatre.

"The Detectives came to an end after five successful years simply because Jasper and I decided to pull the plug. The producers were keen for us to continue but we wanted to cut loose and pursue new and challenging alternatives.

"My next project will be a bit of writing for the stage, steering clear of TV."

Catch Powell in his element performing work by Bennett, a great British writer. But watch out, this is a mantle he may claim for himself in the future.

Chris Patterson, Newsquest, Tuesday 17th September 2002