David Bamber stars this month in the opening production of the Chichester Festival season - the first major revival of Tom Stoppard's 1981 comedy On The Razzle.

Bamber’s impressive stage CV includes Troilus and Cressida, The Merchant of Venice and Honk at the National, and My Night With Reg at the Royal Court and the Criterion, for which he won the Laurence Olivier Award for best Actor.

On film, he has appeared in Mike Leigh's High Hopes and Privates on Parade, directed by Michael Blakemore; and on television, in Pride and Prejudice, The Buddha of Suburbia and The Railway Children.

Date & place of birth
Born 19 September 1954 at home in Walkden, a town between Manchester and Bolton in Lancashire.

Now lives in...
Highgate, north London.

Trained at

  • Bristol University Drama Department, 1973-76
  • Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), 1977-79

    First big break
    Still waiting...!

    Career highlights

  • A season at the National Theatre, 1988-91
  • Pride and Prejudice for the BBC
  • Kevin Elyot's My Night With Reg
  • and all work at the Royal Court and the Criterion

    Favourite production that you've worked on
    There are many favourites, but let me again mention My Night With Reg, directed by my friend Roger Michell.

    Favourite director
    I have worked with many, but my present favourite is my current director Peter Wood. Not only has he worked in the theatre for over 40 years, and with everybody, but he is still extremely demanding and inspiring, and doesn't settle for what comes easiest.

    Favourite playwright
    I love the plays of Arthur Wing Pinero, but have never actually appeared in one.

    What roles would you most like to play still?
    The Duke in Shakespeare's Measure For Measure, and Chekhov's Uncle Vanya.

    Would you like to move into full time directing at some stage?
    I have never directed, but I would relish the opportunity.

    How have various directors, such as Trevor Nunn, influenced your work as an actor?
    I did two Shakespeares with Trevor, and they were only the third and fourth I had done in 20 years. It was a privilege to be with the best. Like all great directors, he is acutely aware of the form of the writing, and the style of the play, but his inspirations are the motivating truths of the situation.

    What's the best thing currently on stage?
    We took our eldest son to see Mamma Mia, and we all loved it.

    What advice would you give to the government to secure the future of British theatre?
    The last government tried to convince us that the buying habits of the public were the best judge of anything. This is palpable nonsense. Art and theatre should be massively subsidised. Our interest in art mirrors our humanity, and theatre can entertain whilst portraying what life is really like. Shakespeare wrote plays, and he will be remembered long after Mrs Thatcher and her economics. As for this government, there's something about Chris Smith that I find really irritating. Political correctness can produce a lot of hopeless, useless expressions. Some people can't draw, some people can't write and some people can't act - and there is nothing wrong with them being told so!

    What in particular appeals to you about such regional theatres as the Festival at Chichester, and where do you place their importance in the cultural scheme of things?
    Chichester will always have a magic because of its origin and its connections with the founding of Laurence Olivier's National Theatre. Latterly, it has acquired something of a reputation for middle-brow offerings, but the advent of the Minerva has broadened its repertoire. Last year I was asked to be in a Bond (Edward, not James) play here, though I wasn't available.

    Favourite book
    Recently, it would be Music and Silence by Rose Tremain.

    Favourite after-show haunt
    My bed

    Favourite holiday destination
    The south of France

    Why did you want to do On The Razzle?
    I wanted to work with Desmond Barrit (co-star). Plus, when Peter Wood asks you to do something, it must be a good idea.

    What's your favourite line from On The Razzle?
    "Swotting flies, like wanton Gods, off the north face of the Ementhal."

    What was the funniest, or oddest, moment during rehearsals for On The Razzle?
    Peter Woods' Labrador, True, barking when Kevin and Andrew Atherton put the 'horse' on.

    What do you like, or dislike, about the Internet and do you have a favourite site?
    Can you believe that we do not have a computer and that I have never touched one? Our nine-year-old son fibbed at school and said we did have, as he was too embarrassed to admit otherwise. So we seem to have encouraged dishonesty!

    - David Bamber was speaking to Gareth Thompson

    On The Razzle begins previews at the Chichester Festival Theatre on 23 May 2001 before opening on 29 May and continuing to 14 July.