Simon Rouse is known to most of us for his role as DCI Jack Meadows in The Bill. Now, following successful roles in When We Are Married and The Full Monty, he takes to the stage once more in the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes, currently on an extensive UK tour. Rich Jevons talks to Rouse prior to a homecoming at Bradford’s Alhambra.
Simon Rouse recalls his early days in 1970s Bradford with relish.
“There was a hive of activity in Bradford for am-dram. There was a place called the Group Theatre, West Riding Youth Theatre which I joined when I was 14, and the Bradford Civic Theatre, Bingley Little Theatre, and I was involved in them all.
“I worked in Morrisons when it first opened in Bradford on a Friday night and Saturday morning stacking shelves with Tony McHale who is a very successful TV writer now. He produced Holby City and co-started in EastEnders. And a guy called Graham Theakston who, very sadly, died recently. When I went to audition for The Bill I walked in and it was Graham doing it and he gave me the job!”
Having taken part in such classic television as The Play for Today, I wondered how Rouse feels about today’s screen output.
“Television is mostly crap now,” he says. “The Bill had been going for three or four years when I joined and they were still doing these half-hour episodes, they were brilliant little vignettes. But then of course because it got successful they wanted to broaden it. They started to do what the ratings were demanding. It’s run by accountants and ratings now – a lot of these shows are formulaic and [sings] ‘everybody knows’ – as Leonard Cohen put it – that they’re not very good.”
But Rouse is by no means bitter about The Bill.
“It paid me extremely well towards the end. At one point it got so ridiculous I thought I was the only character who hadn’t been raped. Some producers came in and had to do something sensational and get the audiences in. Johnathan Young tried to make it and bring it back to what it was, a bit more edgy, and make it more serious.”
Meanwhile, Rouse enthuses about his fellow cast in Anything Goes.
“The ensemble in Anything Goes is just bliss, one of the best companies I’ve worked with. The show is very vaudevillian and the main thrust is the fantastic singing and dancing. I’m working with the best dancers in the country and one of the best singers in Debbie Kurup. I’m playing Elisha Whitney, one of the comic characters who surrounds them and he’s a Wall Street banker.”
Rouse is keen on the music and script, too. “Cole Porter’s music is just fantastic and this is done in such a camp, modern, tongue-in-cheek, delightful way. In a sense it has been brought up to date but the songs are ageless, timeless. And P.G. Wodehouse’s script is brilliant.
In addition, returning to work with Daniel Evans is a labour of love. “I did The Full Monty with Daniel Evans and he’s everybody’s favourite director at the moment, and quite rightly so. I admire his intelligence, he doesn’t miss a thing, and he treats every actor with exactly the same respect. He’s totally egalitarian in his attitude and creates a brilliant atmosphere.”
By Rich Jevons
What: Anything Goes
Where: Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre
When: March 3-March 7, 2015 and touring
More info: www.anythinggoestour.com/tour-dates