David Suchet is best known for his portrayal of Agatha Christie’s most famous detective Hercule Poirot. He has played the eponymous Belgian sleuth since 1989, so you would think some of his characteristics my have rubbed off – impatience, opinionated and direct… but no, he’s quite the opposite, one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet.
He signed a black biro sketch of Poirot after a performance of All My Sons with Zoe Wanamaker at the Apollo Theatre stage door foyer in June 2010. One thing that they do obviously both have in common is doing things in an orderly manner. Placing my sketch neatly on the table he produced a complete set of Sharpie pens. A pack of 20 with every colour available. He selected the red, looked at the drawing then signed and dedicated it to me.
To say that Richard Griffiths dislikes autograph collectors is an understatement. In fact, the week I went to ask him to sign my sketch at the Savoy Theatre he was quoted in a newspaper interview saying that autograph hunters were a pet hate and “the scourge of my life for 35 years.” Ironically his signature is one of the nicest from any celebrity – a calligraphic classic!
In contrast, Danny Devito is very relaxed and obliging… when you can find him. He was staying at the Savoy Apartments, adjacent to the theatre with the Hotel’s plush forecourt inbetween. During THE SUNSHINE BOYS season he used all available entrances and exits… and then some, with varying times. No pattern emerged. It was clear that this was going to be at least a 2 night operation.
The mission went as expected. I got Richard first try and it took four attempts to get Danny. Richard was straight forward – out the back stage door, into a waiting car, using the path of least resistance. He was about to get into his car when I asked him if he could please sign the sketch. He mumbled a few inaudible things, but duly obliged, then he looked at me and said ‘nice work’. Nice ‘graph I replied, then he sped off.
After waiting three nights till last train for Danny, I grugingly went again – bingo. He popped out at 10 through the theatre side door (we had a tip off). Signed for about 15 people, including the sketch. He didn’t say anything, but his PA (I think it was his son) said “that’s fantastic – it looks just like Danny!” “That’s the general idea,” I replied. Mission accomplished – a little sunshine boys into my life.
Illusionist, painter, writer, showman and sceptic, Derren Brown signed my sketch after a performance of his Olivier Award winning ‘Svengali’ at the Novello Theatre in London. He is one of the nicest entertainers – very engaging with the fans at the stage door. He seemed genuinely interested in everyone and was in no rush as he signed autographs and posed for photos… then again he did hypnotise half of the audience! So, I checked the next day and the drawing was indeed signed and inscribed for me!
At the end of last year we went to see Rob Brydon in “A Chorus of Disapproval” at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Enjoyed the play and some of the cast – Rob Brydon, Nigel Harman, Ashley Jensen – signed my drawing.