The name of actor, singer and all-round performer Gary Wilmot has become almost synonymous with musical theatre in this country.

In 1992, Wilmot took over the lead from Robert Lindsay in the West End production of Me and My Girl and made the role his own. He was twice nominated for a Best Actor in a Musical Olivier and later steered the show on a nationwide tour.

Since then, Wilmot's stage credits have included, in the West End, Carmen Jones, Copacabana, Oliver! and The Goodbye Girl and, regionally, One for the Road, Music to Watch Girls Go By, Confusions and The Pirates of Penzance.

Wilmot's musical talents helped make him a household name in the mid-1990s when he presented the BBC's Showstoppers television series, in which he performed and hosted various musical theatre guests each week. His other screen appearances have included Cue Gary, The Saturday Gang, Trigger Pullers, Copy Cats, Lazarus and The Royal Variety Performance.

Currently, Wilmot is back on stage starring, alongside Clive Francis, in the new tour of Graham Greene's 1960s comedy, Travels with My Aunt. Adapted by Giles Havergal and directed by Richard Baron, the Nottingham Playhouse production opened the theatre's autumn season on 19 August and continues on tour until the end of November 2002, ahead of a possible London transfer.


Date & place of birth
Born 8 May 1954 in Kensington, London.

Trained at
I didn't, except at the college of life.

Lives now in...
Buckinghamshire

First big break
I've yet to have it. Your big break is not like a Hollywood movie where you are busking on the street corner and the agent turns up and says, "You're just what I'm looking for." I go along and do what I do really - I've had some highlights and lowlights too, but the Royal Variety show in 1985 was a highlight.

Career highlights to date
In addition to the Royal Variety, the Showstoppers series on TV, and the tour of Me and My Girl. I really enjoyed them. I felt comfortable with doing them both.

Favourite production you've ever worked on
Me and My Girl because, again, I felt comfortable. The show was a great success and a success for me. It became the perfect steppingstone from variety to the more legitimate side of the business.

Favourite co-star
I couldn't begin to tell you that because there'd be so many people that'd be disappointed I hadn't mentioned them. I've been very blessed with the people that I have worked with.

Favourite directors
Mike Ockrent who did Me and My Girl. I just so loved working with him - he made me do things I couldn't believe that I could do.

Favourite musical writers
Kander and Ebb who wrote Cabaret, I love their stuff and what they do - good performing tunes, terrific lyrics, and very clever and accessible.

Favourite playwrights
William Shakespeare because he's the king of playwrights. He's the Elvis Presley of plays!

What roles would you most like to play still?
I don't really have those kinds of things - I don't want to be disappointed because if I want to do them I'll never get them.

Do you prefer performing in musicals or straight plays?
I love musicals - adore them - they are so much fun. The plays are great fun and, as much as I enjoy the singing in musicals, I enjoy the plays too. It comes down to the character - if that's good then I'm happy.

What's the last thing you saw on stage that you really enjoyed?
Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife. It's a brilliant play, and it has a lot to say about life in the year 2002.

What advice would you give to the government to secure the future of British theatre?
Apart from the obvious - more subsidies - they'd be better if they let people who know what they're doing get on with it. If only they would just subsidise the people who know what they are doing rather than interfering. They made a mess of the Millennium Dome, and they're going to do exactly the same with Wembley Stadium.

If you could swap places with one person (living or dead), who would it be?
It wouldn't be anyone dead as that means I'd be dead! I'd like to swap places with Brad Pitt. He's married to Jennifer Anniston - reason enough.

Favourite book
Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park. It's extremely imaginative, I like fairy stories, made up and invented stuff.

Favourite holiday destination
I don't have one it would have to be Scotland - Glasgow, in particular. It's not a very big city and, ten minutes outside of it, you're in the country. There's lots to do for everyone, it's a wonderful place to be.

If you hadn't become involved with theatre, what would you have done professionally?
I'd have been a furniture designer. I enjoy carpentry and I like art. It's probably not what I'd have actually ended up doing, but it's what I'd have loved to do.

How would you like to be best remembered by your friends/family/fans?
I'd like to be remembered as the man who couldn't remember... I have a bad memory! When it comes to recalling things it's dreadful. I can remember lines and trivial facts, but actual things I'm useless at.

Why did you want to accept your part in Travels with My Aunt ?
It is a great play, a very stylish piece. The role they offered me was a good'un too, really something to play. Having read the play, I felt it would be good for me to do it.

What do you like & dislike most about embarking on a major tour?
I love travelling, but booking all the accommodation is a bit of a nightmare. You never know what you'll get. I tend to go for hotels because they're all the same really, whether they're expensive or cheap. What it comes down to is seeing other places and doing other things - broadening my mind, which God knows I need to do.

What's your favourite line from Travels with My Aunt?
It's probably one that I don't say, but I can't think what that would be now. The last line of the play is always good because that means it's all over. That's when we make contact with the audience - we thank them and they thank us - it's always my favourite.

What's the funniest thing that's happened during the run to date of Travels with My Aunt?
I couldn't tell you, it's completely unprintable!

What are your plans for the future?
I'm working through to February ... then I'd love to go back and do a television drama or sitcom. And I'd like to see more theatre, I'm an avid theatregoer. I went recently to see Chicago. It was so nostalgic for me as it was in the same theatre (the Adelphi) that Me and My Girl was in and I thought, "God I must get back to musical theatre".

- Gary Wilmot was talking to Sarah Beaumont


Travels with My Aunt continues on its UK-wide tour until the end of November 2002.