Drawing: Jim Broadbent as Scrooge

Jim Broadbent

Jim Broadbent, one of Britain’s finest character actors, has returned to the London stage as the seasonal skinflint Scrooge in a new adaption by Patrick Barlow of Dickens’ classic A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Last seen in THEATRE OF BLOOD at the National, a decade ago, the multi-award-winning actor’s portrayal of Scrooge is more high-spirited than mean-spirited, played with a ‘permanent twinkle in his eye’.

It’s New Year’s honours time and I was reminded of when Jim declined an OBE in 2002, after winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as British critic and writer John Bayley in IRIS. He stated that there were more deserving recipients than actors and the British Empire was not something he wanted to celebrate. But he didn’t decline to sign my sketch and, as usual was very gracious at the stage door.

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Drawing: Jim Broadbent and Rachael Stirling in Theatre of Blood

Broadbent+Stirling001

Theatre of Blood is a cultish 1973 MGM film that featured Vincent Price as Edward Lionheart, an old, vengeful Shakespearean ham actor and Diana Rigg as his Cordelia -like daughter, Edwina.

Having been robbed of the coveted ‘Critics Cirtcle’ award, Lionheart decides to murder seven critics – each representing one of the seven deadly sins, one by one.

The butchery takes place in a crumbling derelict theatre and each critic’s demise is inspired by the deaths of characters in the plays Lionheart performed in his final season of Shakespeare Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, Troilus and Cressida, Richard III, Othello and Henry VI, Part I.

The National Theatre produced the stage version, which was adapted from the film by British Company ‘Improbable’ with Oscar winner Jim Broadbent playing Lionheart and two time Olivier nominee Rachael Stirling (Diana Rigg’s daughter) playing his daughter Miranda (not Edwina).

The adaption ran at the National’s Lyttleton Theatre between May and September 2005.