Actor remembers staying in ‘castle’ during boyhood Blackpool trips

The History Boys comes to the Grand Theatre from Tuesday
The History Boys comes to the Grand Theatre from Tuesday
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Actor Chris Barritt will be living like the king of his childhood when he returns to Blackpool next week in The History Boys.

Born in Nelson and brought up in Blackburn, he’s looking forward to the play’s run at the Grand Theatre – having booked in to the hotel his family used on holidays, the Norbreck.

Fond memories abound; playing football in the car park with the Arsenal team as they stayed there ahead of a fixture against Blackpool, his mum and dad being invited to a party with the Posh and Becks of their day manager Billy Wright and wife Joy Beverley, of the Beverley Sisters, and narrowly avoiding drowning in the sands off Cleveleys, where his aunt lived.

“We’d stay at the Norbreck and I thought I was living in a castle, with all the battlements at the top,” he said.

And while there’s not a trace of a Lanky accent left – Chris trained as an actor at LAMDA, where the focus was very much on received pronunciation – he promises that with a drink in hand and a few days back in the area, he’ll be ‘reet’.

The History Boys, by Alan Bennett, was a hugely successful National Theatre in 2004 production which went on to become a film, with the original cast – on stage and screen – featuring stars in the making such as James Corden, Dominic Cooper and Russell Tovey among the sixth formers finding their ways in life, in pursuit of a place at university, as well as Richard Griffiths in an iconic role as teacher and mentor Hector.

“I doubt I’ll be the ring-leader in Blackpool,” said Chris, who plays the TV director and covers the role of Hector.

“We have two very different age groups in the cast; the mature, responsible ones - who are the 20 year olds, and the rest of us.

“The young cast are all great, talented, energentic and good looking, with ambition and dreams. Every single one of them is lovely.

“And they look to that original cast, and see the careers they’ve had, thinking what could be for them – and I’m sure it will be just as successful.”

* The History Boys, Tuesday until Saturday, April 18. Free post show talk on opening night. Call (01253) 290190 for tickets.