Drawing: Peter Bowles in The Exorcist

Autographed drawing of Peter Bowles in "The Exorcist" at the Phoenix Theatre on London's West End

Much-loved British actor Peter Bowles has returned to the West End in the terrifying stage adaption of THE EXORCIST at the Phoenix Theatre. The 81 year-old veteran of stage and screen plays Father Lankester Merrin in the production that originated at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and is based on William Peter Blatty’s hugely successful novel and William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece film. Probably known more for his comedy roles such as Richard DeVere in the very popular sitcom TO THE MANOR BORN, Peter spent his formative television years playing villains in shows such as THE AVENGERS, DANGER MAN, THE SAINT and THE PRISONER. His stage career began at the Old Vic in 1956 with appearances in a series of Shakespearean productions, including MACBETH, ROMEO AND JULIET and RICHARD II. When I met Peter at the stage door on his way in for Saturdays late matinee he signed my sketch. I quipped, “It looks a scary play to watch,’ he replied “It’s a scary play to be in!”

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Drawing: Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles in The Rivals at Theatre Royal Haymarket

Keith + Bowles

Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles teamed up again – this time on the West End boards. Their ‘partnership’ goes back to the late 70’s when Penelope, playing the forthright, plummy-accented widow Audrey fforbes-Hamilton and Peter as the debonaire millionaire Richard DeVere featured in the hugely popular British TV sitcom TO THE MANOR BORN. They also starred in the BAFTA-winning EXECUTIVE STRESS alongside Geoffrey Palmer. In 2010 they appeared at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in London for Sheridan’s comedy of manners, THE RIVALS, signing my black biro sketch at the theatre in December that year.