Interview: Mark Curry talks murder and Agatha Christie

Mark Curry
Mark Curry
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WHEN producer Bill Kenwright offered Mark Curry the role of Doctor Armstrong in his production of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the former Blue peter presenter jumped at the chance.

“I wanted to do an Agatha Christie, one of Bill’s, because I kept seeing the posters and they looked sumptuous. When I read the script, it was the best play I’ve read of hers.

Curry was initially asked to read the play with the role of Doctor Armstrong in mind.

“What was appealing about that was it’s not a part you’d usually associate me with... he’s a nervy, guileful, full of neurosis, ex-alcoholic.

“It was a chance to show I have a sensitive side. So even though it was not the biggest role I’ve played, I was really drawn to that troubled character and I think it was good for me to have people see me do that.”

At The King’s this week, however, the Capital’s theatre-goers will be treated to Curry in a very different role.

Armstrong is now played by Sixties pop star-turned actor Mark Wynter, while Curry has donned the tails of the Butler, Rogers.

“I was with the tour for such a long time that I wanted a new challenge.”

“I wanted to do something different. When the opportunity came along to play Rogers, it offered me a new perspective on the play,” he explains. “They’re both great characters, although Rogers’ days are slightly more numbered than Armstrong’s.”

As well as Wynters, Curry is joined on stage by an all-star cast. Peak Practice’s Deborah Grant plays eccentric spinster Emily Brent, Kezia Burrows, best known as junior doctor Cath Llewellyn in the BBC drama Crash is secretary Vera Claythorne.

They join Just Good Friends star Paul Nicholas as judge Sir Lawrence Wargrave, Colin Buchanan, who starred as Peter Pascoe in Dalziel and Pascoe, as retired police inspector William Henry Blore, Soldier Soldier’s Ben Nealon as Philip Lombard and Bouquet of Barbed Wire’s Eric Carte as General Mackenzie.

Written in 1939, And Then There Were None is Christie’s best-selling thriller worldwide.

With 100 million sales to date, it is widely considered to be her masterpiece. In this her own 1943 stage adaptation, the thrills enthral as murder unfolds . . .

A group of 10 strangers is lured to a remote island off the coast of Devon.

Upon arrival it is discovered that their host, an eccentric millionaire, is missing.

At dinner a recorded message is played accusing each of them in turn of having a guilty secret and by the end of the evening the ten guests become nine.

Stranded on the island by a torrential storm and haunted by an ancient nursery rhyme, one by one the guests begin to die.

And with only the fallen believed to be innocent who among them is the killer?

Curry says, “During rehearsals I read the novel. It grips you from the start.

“The chapters are very short and you get a description of everybody. I just think it’s just a brilliant piece of writing and it’s not until the end of the novel, when the story finishes, that you think, ‘Wow! Clever stuff’.

“Christie was just a genius.”

Reflecting on the highlights of the show’s mammoth, eight-month tour, Curry offers, “The highlight is that every week is different.

“Every opening night is almost like your first night because you’ve got a new audience from that area, you’ve got a new stage to get to know and it’s a new theatre with different history.

“You’ve also got local press on the first night so you’ve got to give it 100 per cent, not that you don’t every night, but you can’t get complacent.

“Whereas in the West End, it’s fantastic, but you’re going in the same dressing room night after night, you’re parking your car in the same place. Having done six months in the West End, it does become a little bit routine. With touring, you’re discovering new places.”

Of course, for anyone who grew up in the 80s, Curry remains best known for his stint on Blue Peter.

“I still get recognised today,” he says, “I think that’s because we were getting seven million viewers at our peak because there was less on telly then, we didn’t have Sky, there were just four channels.

“We also had a cross-section of audience watching us because we were on just before the Six O’clock News, so grandparents, kids and parents watched us.

“That show, no matter what else I do, will always be with me. It’s a badge, you’ve got it and you were a part of history.”

And Then There Were None, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, until Saturday, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £15-£30.50, 0131-529 6000