Graham swapping The Archers for wartime drama at Derby

Flare Path comes to Derby Theatre next week. Picture: Jack Ladenburg
Flare Path comes to Derby Theatre next week. Picture: Jack Ladenburg

A familiar voice to many, Graham Seed heads the cast for Terrence Rattigan’s Flare Path at Derby Theatre next week.

Graham is best known for playing Nigel Pargetter in the radio soap The Archers for 27 years as well as being a regular on What The Papers Say on Radio 4.

But now, he is leaving Ambridge behind to play Squadron Leader Swanson in Flare Path.

Graham said: “It’s going very well and we have a terrific cast.”

“As an actor I am really enjoying it because Rattigan writes such good characters, he just didn’t write bad parts.

“One of his best plays is The Deep Blue Sea and this has early elements of that.

“It’s rather delightful and I like the play enormously.”

Flare Path is based on Rattigan’s experiences as a tail gunner during WWII and paints an evocative portrait of life in wartime Britain for the life-and-death existence of the RAF bomber crews, and their wives and sweethearts who were left waiting their return.

Set in 1942 against a backdrop of heartache and quiet bravery, the play tells the story of former actress Patricia, the wife of RAF pilot Teddy, whose marriage is tested to the limits by the surprise arrival of Patricia’s ex‐lover and Hollywood idol Peter Kyle.

An unexpected and dangerous mission over Germany puts Patricia at the centre of an emotional conflict as unpredictable as the war in the skies.

Graham continued: “My character is quite funny and rather charming. He’s a frightfully good chap; full of that stiff upper lip phlegm.”

“But I have to be careful not to stray into parody.

“If you did it wrong you’d be into Black Adder or Monty Python territory, which you don’t want at all.”

“These boys were incredibly brave and they understated the danger always.

Mixing history with an intriguing story gives it broad appeal and the cast are delighted that Flare Path is attracting audiences of all ages.

He said: “It’s definitely a play that is suitable for all the family and I do hope that lots of young people will come to see it.

“I know it sounds slightly immature for a 65 year-old man to say it, but it’s quite nice to put on an Air Force uniform. I look pretty chipper.

As for life on tour, Graham doesn’t mind living out of a suitcase in the least.

He noted: “It’s rather romantic and like being with a family. For me, as an older member of the company, there’s a responsibility to make sure that everyone’s happy.

“But it’s a lovely way to see friends in other parts of the country and to visit wonderful theatres like Derby.”

Flare Path is on from Tuesday, April 19 to Saturday, April 23 at 7.30pm each night, plus matinees at 2.30pm on Wednesday and Saturday.

Tickets are £15-26 on 01332 593939 or www.derbytheatre.co.uk