American tone to latest role for Heartbeat’s Joe

Joe McFadden in rehearsals for She Loves Me. Photo Catherine Ashmore

Joe McFadden in rehearsals for She Loves Me. Photo Catherine Ashmore

Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards

Eddie The Eagle flies high as he tells his life story

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The accent is identical to that of the last of the hero PCs in Heartbeat, but it will be different when the actor returns to Chichester in the first production of the summer season.

Joe McFadden is a soft-voiced Glaswegian but She Loves Me is an American musical, and he will be as comfortable in that as he was in the lead role of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at Chichester in 2005.

Joe, now 35, remembers that fondly: ‘I had such a fantastic time, it’s such a nice part of the country to work in and the production was so well-received by such a loyal fan-base.’

She Loves Me is a comedy about two shop assistants in the 1930s who fall in love with mystery pan-pals, unaware that each is the other’s secret correspondent.

‘It’s a show I wasn’t terribly familiar with,’ Joe admits, ‘but it’s one people hold dear to their hearts. Friends of mine say it’s their favourite, and Stephen Mear, who choreographed How To Succeed and is now our director and choreographer, says it’s his favourite too. It has multi-layered, funny characters.’

Joe starred in Heartbeat for its final two years (longer on screen), and ‘it came as a bit of a surprise’ when they ended it after 16 years,’ he says mildly.

‘But I was quite happy. I didn’t imagine I’d be doing it for much longer. The leading copper generally stayed only a couple of years.’

The ‘gorgeous’ locations reminded him of his formative years in Take The High Road. ‘I kind of grew up on that from 15,’ he says.

More recently he appeared as a young doctor in Cranford and says working with the likes of Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins and Imelda Staunton was like having a masterclass in acting.

‘They are such lovely people, approachable and generous as actors.

‘And playing Aladdin to Ian McKellen’s Widow Twankey on stage in London was wonderful too. Audiences were in raptures seeing him walk on as Agnetha from Abba and he had the time of his life.

‘I really admire an actor who doesn’t do what people expect. He did panto before other really big actors did, and he made it cool.’

· She Loves Me will be in the Minerva Theatre from May 9 to June 18. Tickets: (01243) 781312 or cft.org.uk.

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