Drawing: Fagin and Nancy, Griff Rhys Jones and Jodie Prenger in Oliver!

Oliver! Griff Rhys Jones Jodie Prenger

Welsh comedian Griff Rhys Jones joined Jodie Prenger in Rupert Goold and Matthew Bourne’s 2009 revival of the Lionel Bart classic musical Oliver! at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane, during the Christmas of 2009.

Griff took over the role of Charles Dicken’s conniving career criminal Fagin pickin’ a pocket or two with his gang of homeless boys. He replaced Omid Djalili becoming the fourth person to portray the loveable rogue in December for six month stint.

Jodie won the BBC TV’s I’d Do Anything to find Nancy for the West End revival in 2008 – a role she played from the opening night in January 2009 until March 2010 plus a two show one off performance on 13 November 2010 filling in for Kerry Ellis.

Griff also returned to Oliver! in December 2010 for a five week start until final curtain in January the following year. I left this black biro sketch at the theatre where both Griff and Jodie signed it for me.

Drawing: Neil Morrissey as Fagin in Oliver!

Neil Morrissey Fagin

Best known for playing the role of Tony in Men Behaving Badly, British actor Neil Morrissey took on one of the all time crims as Fagin, my dears, in the sell-out UK touring production of Lionel Barts classic musical Oliver! He steals the show, leading his gang of young thieves thorugh memorable numbers such as ‘You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two’.

At 12, Neil was placed under a care order and legally separated from his parents, spending most of his time in a children’s home. He apparently has numerous tattoos. on his left arm is his first name and a blob which was intended to be his initials, but got infected and required an anti-tetanus shot on. A squiggle, meant to be the reversed version of “The Saint” logo is on the other arm. Legend has it that the inkings were done by other boys at the home, who in a sense of camaraderie, seeing he had no tats, offered him a choice – tattoos or a beating. He is quoted as saying he should have taken the other option.

Oh yes, and until recently he was the voice of Bob the Builder. For the last month of its West End run, Neil reunited with fellow Men Behaving Badly star Caroline Quentin, in Noël Coward’s Relative Values at the Pinter in London. It finished last week, but I caught up with Neil after at the stage door. He signed the sketch I did of him and Caroline, then I showed him this one, he said, “Blimey!” which I think is Midlander for Wow! Either way, he signed it. I also told him the result of one of the World Cup Games played earlier, whcih he was about to go and watch the replay of… oops.