Roy Hudd and Leslie Grantham open tonight in a new play by award-winning writer Eric Chappell, the creator of TV's Rising Damp and Only When I Laugh series. The production, entitled Theft, commences at Edinburgh's King's Theatre before embarking on a national tour.

Described as a "rollercoaster comedy", the action centres around the successful and wealthy John Miles (Grantham). On returning home from an evening out with his wife and two friends, he discovers his house has been burgled. However, when the bumbling Spriggs (Hudd) suddenly appears, Miles assumes they have caught the culprit. But things don't turn out quite so simply, as the manipulative Spriggs cajoles and corrupts his accusers in a game of cat and mouse.

Chappell achieved instant success with his first play, The Banana Box, which later inspired Rising Damp. Both stage and screen versions starred the late Leonard Rossiter. The playwright's other theatre credits include Up And Running, Something's Burning and Haunted.

Roy Hudd's BBC radio series, The News Huddlines, is now in its 25th year. One of Britain's best-known comedians and actors, he once won an Olivier award for his portrayal of Bud Flanagan in Underneath The Arches. Hudd's leading roles on television include Dennis Potter's Lipstick On Your Collar. Leslie Grantham may have achieved fame and notoriety as Dirty Den in BBC's EastEnders, but his work also includes his own wine programme, Grantham's Grapes, for Carlton.

Other members of the cast include Joanna Van Gyseghem, Peter Alexander and Sandra Payne. Van Gyseghem is perhaps best known for her part in three series of Duty Free (also written by Chappell), as well as stage appearances in The Norman Conquests (Leeds) and How The Other Half Loves (Windsor). Alexander has performed in the West End in Buddy, No Sex Please We're British and Run For Your Wife. Payne made her London debut in Peter Nichol's Forget Me Not Lane, in which she created the role of Young Urse.

After its short run in Edinburgh, Theft will also call at Peterborough, Brighton, Crawley, Malvern, Guildford and High Wycombe.

- by Gareth Thompson