Philip Franks will return later this month to the London production of RC Sheriff's classic First World War play Journey's End, now in the final weeks of its oft-extended, year-long West End run. Franks, and fellow members of the recent touring production, will take over from the current London cast from 20 December 2004 until the show finishes at the Duke of York’s Theatre on 15 January 2005. They’ll then take the show back out on the road from 17 January.

The 75th anniversary revival first opened at the West End’s Comedy Theatre on 21 January 2004 (previews from 15 January), before transferring in May to the Playhouse, when Franks first joined the company (See News, 1 Apr 2004), and then on to its current home at the Duke of York’s in October.

Based on the author's own experience in the trenches of the First World War, Journey's End follows a group of officers, positioned behind British lines at St Quentin, France, and awaiting their fate. Franks takes plays the avuncular Lieutenant Osborne, who helps the nerve-shot Captain Stanhope keep a steady hand as battle looms.

Franks is best known to TV fans for his long-running roles in the likes of Heartbeat and The Darling Buds of May. In the cast with him are: Tom Wisdom (as Stanhope), Stephen Casey, Roger Walker, Stephen Hudson, Richard Glaves, Simon Shackleton, James Staddon, William Gregory, Christopher Knott and Edward Fulton.

Following their time in the West End, the same cast – which completed a separate three-month tour of Journey's End on 4 December 2004 (See News, 1 Jul 2004) - will go back on the road. The 2005 touring schedule opens on 17 January at the Hall of Cornwall in Truro and continues, until 4 June, to Darlington, Poole, Aberdeen, Belfast, Canterbury, Reading, Guildford, Norwich, York, Southend and Bromley, with further dates still to be announced.

Journey's End is directed by David Grindley and designed by Jonathan Fensom, with lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Gregory Clarke. It’s presented by Background Productions.

- by Terri Paddock