In the same month that Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels actor Nick Moran (pictured) will take to the West End stage to star in The Countess (See News, 4 Apr 2005), he’ll also make his West End playwriting debut when his Telstar transfers to the New Ambassadors Theatre, where it will have a limited season from 24 June to 10 September 2005 (previews from 21 June).

Set in the 1960s, it tells the story of the real-life Joe Meek, the UK’s first independent record producer. Transforming his tiny flat over a handbag shop in London’s Holloway Road into a recording studio, Meek produced three massive hits of the period, including the self-written “Telstar”. The black comedy – which Moran developed over eight years in between his own screen and stage acting commitments – had its UK premiere in Cambridge this past February ahead of a regional tour (See News, 4 Feb 2005).

From the tour, Con O'Neill and Linda Robson (Birds of a Feather) will reprise their performances as Joe and his landlady ally Violet Shenton. O’Neill has previously appeared in the West End in Mother Clap’s Molly House and Blood Brothers, for which he won an Olivier (and was in fact understudied by a young Moran).

The London cast of Telstar also includes Tarl Caple, Gareth Corke, Callum Dixon, David Hayler, Roland Manookian, Philip York and William Woods. The play is directed by Paul Jepson and designed by Tim Shortall with lighting by Chris Ellis. Moran is presenting the New Vic Workshop production along with Katy Quayle and Kate Plantin for KT2 Productions, in association with Eastbourne Theatres and Cambridge Arts. It’s supported by Arts Council England and managed by Stanhope Productions.

In The Countess - also based on a real-life story – Moran plays art critic John Ruskin, whose relationship with his wife and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais caused a scandal in Victorian London. A hit Off-Broadway, Gregory Murphy’s drama premieres at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre before opening at the West End’s Criterion Theatre on 7 June 2005 (previews from 2 June).

Currently at the New Ambassadors, the first West End revival of Frank McGuinness’ 1992 hostage crisis three-hander Someone Who'll Watch Over Me - starring Jonny Lee Miller, Aidan Gillen and David Threlfall – continues its limited season until 18 June 2005. Telstar will be followed at the theatre by the West End return of RC Sheriff's classic First World War play Journey's End, which is booking from 14 September 2004 to 7 January 2006 (See News, 18 Apr 2005).

- by Terri Paddock