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Crawford 'terrified' of West End return

Do Not UseDo Not Use 13/05/2016 By Rebecca Jones & Issaac Mumena
Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em: Michael Crawford (pictured with Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em screen wife Michelle Dotrice) says he is 'unlikely' to reprise the role of the sitcom's Frank Spencer © Getty Images Michael Crawford (pictured with Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em screen wife Michelle Dotrice) says he is 'unlikely' to reprise the role of the sitcom's Frank Spencer

Michael Crawford says he is "terrified" as he prepares to return to the West End stage for the first time in five years at the end of the month.

"It is scary. I am frightened," the 74-year-old told the BBC.

The actor, whose last stage role was in The Wizard of Oz. will star in a new musical adaptation of LP Hartley's novel The Go-Between.

He plays an elderly man, Leo Colston, confronting painful memories of his childhood.

As a 12-year-old boy, Colston had acted as a go-between for a couple conducting a clandestine love affair.

Crawford says it is the biggest role he has played on stage and he was worried he would not be able to remember it all.

"It's a heck of a score to learn and I thought at this point in my life I don't know that I could.

"So I just hope I'm allowed to go on as long as I can with my memory and that I will be able to perform."

When asked how he would react if people were fiddling with their mobile phones during a performance, he said: "I hope I will be so involved in what I am doing that I won't hear anyone."

Crawford admitted he was in favour of a proposed plan for theatre ushers to shine lasers at people who use their phones during a performance "as long as it didn't take a life. I think people should be exposed for being foolish".

The actor became an international star when he played the title role in the stage production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera in London in 1986 and two years later on Broadway.

The pop star Michael Jackson was one of many stars who came to see the show and went backstage to congratulate him on his performance.

But for many, Crawford will always be remembered for playing the hapless, accident-prone Frank Spencer in the BBC comedy Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.

The show ended in 1978 and the actor says he had been asked to bring Frank back "a few times" since then, but he always resisted.

"I just thought by the end I wasn't playing the character as well. I'd become a little too knowing and so I didn't find it as endearing as I felt it should be. So I thought that was enough."

However, he was persuaded to change his mind for a one-off sketch for Sport Relief.

Reuniting with his screen wife Betty, played by Michele Dotrice, he ended up on roller skates behind the cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park in Stratford.

"It appealed to the child in me, the boy in me and I wanted to go back there."

Despite having "such a great time", Crawford says he is unlikely to reprise the role again.

"This was 40 years ago. You have to be careful with a character like that, that he doesn't look politically incorrect and unkind to anyone."

Before the role in The Go-Between came up, Crawford admits he thought he had "finished" working.

"I felt I was going to wind down at this point of my life," he says.

The Go Between will open for previews at the Apollo Theatre in London on 27 May 2016, with an official opening on 7 June 2016.

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