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5 minutes with Richard Harris: 'Dog Ends is is a totally different play to Stepping Out'

The playwright talks about his play which tackles the problem of old age, and Stepping Out being back in the West End

Anita Graham and Nick Wilton in rehearsals for Dog Ends
© Alistair Hilton

Dog Ends is is even more pertinent now than when I wrote it. It's a very black comedy about the problem of old age. It's about an elderly member of a very ordinary family who's getting to be a bit of a burden. The problem is what to do with him. It was originally written as a stage play, and then it was done for the BBC with Leonard Rossiter. This time round, I thought: 'I'm going to try and tinker with this and bring it up to date.' That's what I've done. But I'm not going to say too much because I don't want to blow the plot.

Tracy-Ann Oberman (Maxine) in Stepping Out
© Nobby Clark

This play is completely different to something like Stepping Out. One's a very black comedy and the other, I hope, is a very uplifting comedy. This time round, Stepping Out is a very good production. It's got an excellent cast and a wonderful director in Maria Friedman. It's lovely, and fingers crossed it's going to have a good run.

Stepping Out has been a successful play because people have enjoyed it as a night out. That and Outside Edge have been my most successful plays. The latter was also turned into a television series in the '90s starring Timothy Spall. They're two plays which have done me very well and have been terribly popular which is nice.

Television is a totally different experience to the stage. It is a totally different way of writing. You write a stage play and the audience will choose where to look. But when you write a television play, the director tells you where to look. They're really quite different mediums. A good example at the minute is Fences. It was a wonderful stage play, and the movie is really a filmed version of the stage play. There's been no real effort to make it different. I've adapted a lot of things for television and you have to make decision about how to translate them for the screen.

There are plays I've had on which haven't worked. I'd like to have another go at them but it just gets harder and harder... almost impossible. If something works, I'm relieved, but if it doesn't it's depressing. Some you win, some you lose.

Dog Ends runs at the Tabard Theatre from 22 March to 15 April.