Brian Cox announced as new ambassador of Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre

Actor Brian Cox speaking at the launch of Yes Scotland
Actor Brian Cox speaking at the launch of Yes Scotland
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HOLLYWOOD actor Brian Cox said he is ready to return to the stage in Scotland as he was confirmed as a new ambassador for a theatre where he first performed almost half a century ago.

• 66-year-old actor joined Lyceum company in 1965, the year it was formed

• Theatre relies on around £160,000 private funding to meet annual running costs of £3.2 million

• Brian Cox will help establish a new network of patrons ahead of the theatre’s forthcoming 50th anniversary

The Dundee-born star of Manhunter, the Bourne films and Troy was visiting Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre yesterday as it was announced he would be its honorary patron for its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2015.

He joined the Lyceum’s theatre company the year it was formed, in October 1965, as a teenager when it moved into its current building on Grindlay Street, alongside the Usher Hall.

Yesterday, he hailed it as “one of the most beautiful theatres anywhere in the world” and pledged to perform there again if the right work came up.

Cox also said he would be keen to work with the National Theatre of Scotland on a production, revealing he had suggested appearing in a show set against the backdrop of the banking crisis in Edinburgh.

Working at the Lyceum company was Cox’s first paid stage work after leaving drama school – he studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art – and he has returned sporadically to the Lyceum’s stage, most recently eight years ago, when he played the lead role in John Byrne’s Uncle Varick.

One of Cox’s main roles as the theatre’s figurehead will be to raise its profile around the world and help establish a new network of patrons, with the aim of raising new funds for talent development and staging new work.

Cox, an Emmy Award winner, said: “I see my role as a bit like the godfather of the Lyceum. It’s about building up support from patrons, appearing at special events whenever I can and also raising the profile of the theatre internationally.

“I also hope to work with the youth theatre here, which is doing exceptional work.

“I don’t think the Lyceum has had the recognition it has deserved under Mark Thomson as artistic director, perhaps because of how the National Theatre of Scotland has been doing, but I do think the theatre scene in Edinburgh is very strong with the work also being produced by the Traverse, much more so than what is happening in Glasgow.

“The Lyceum is one of the most beautiful theatres anywhere in the world, its auditorium is just so intimate to perform in. It’s been eight years since I last performed here, but I’d be very keen to do so again, if I could get the time and the work would have to be right.”

He added: “Whatever I do in Scotland has to be of immense relevance. I was actually speaking to the National Theatre of Scotland about doing something set against the banking crisis in Edinburgh and the downfall of Fred Goodwin, but it hasn’t come off yet and I don’t know the new (NTS) artistic director (Laurie Sansom).

“I can vividly remember appearing here in 1965, the first show was the Servant O’ Twa Maisters with people like Tom Conti, who was a few years older than me, Russell Hunter, Una McLean and Eileen McCallum. Fulton Mackay also joined us in that first year.”