Watch: Olivier Award winner Matthew Kelly tells Liam Rudden about being back in Edinburgh to star in hit show, The Dresser

On TV he’s entertained millions in shows like Stars In Their Eyes, but as Evening News Entertainment Editor Liam Rudden discovers, Matthew Kelly is never more at home than when on stage.

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He's a bit of a legend, a national treasure even and has certainly enjoyed a long and varied career since coming to public prominence presenting the ITV light entertainment show Game For a Laugh, but there is nowhere Matthew Kelly is more at home than on a stage.

Now 71 years of age, the Olivier Award-winning actor is back in Edinburgh right now to star in The Dresser, which runs at the King's Theatre until Saturday.

Olivier Award winner Matthew Kelly chats with Edinburgh Evening News Entertainment Editor Liam Rudden


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It's a play he has longed to do, playing Sir, and one that brings him back to the Old Lady of Leven Street, a theatre that has become more than familiar to him over the years but then he first trod its boards in 1983, opposite Eric Sykes in Alan Ayckbourn's Time and Time Again, returning in the likes of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, for which his portrayal of Lenny won him a Olivier.

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This time around he starring in Ronald Harwood​'s The Dresser, a funny and affectionate portrait of backstage life.

Inspired by memories of working as Donald Wolfit’s dresser as a young man, Harwood’s evocative​ play​ ​is ​one of the most acclaimed dramas of modern theatre.


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Kelly stars as an ageing actor manager, known to his loyal acting company as ‘Sir’, who is struggling to cling on to his sanity and complete his ​227th performance of King Lear.

Norman, Sir’s devoted dresser​, ​ensures that in spite of everything, the show goes on – for ​16​ years Norman has been there to fix Sir’s wig, massage his ego, remind him of his opening lines and provide the sound effects in the storm scene.

The Guardian has described Kelly’s performance as ‘often marvellous in a role that requires constant see-sawing between the grand and the pitiful’ adding, ‘Kelly finds fresh nuances in this weary old soul, delivering his lines with a defiant, throaty gargle, and lending vitality to a character taking his final curtain call.’

​Please note that due to illness the Julian Clary will not be performing and Samuel Holmes will play Norman. Tickets available here


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