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Chris Ellison's dream role as Magwitch in Great Expectations
IT'S not that Chris Ellison loves playing the villain- it's just what he gets offered. And is currently on stage playing the criminal, Magwitch, in a stage adaptation of one of Charles Dickens' most popular books- Great Expectations.
For an avid reader of Dickens this is a great role for the former Bill star and talks about what the author and the character means to him, and how he cannot escape his Burnside character.
It is 200 years since Dickens was born and the arts world is celebrating his work in a big way, in particularly Great Expectations.
It is coming to the big screen at the end of November in a film directed by Mike Newell, with Helena Bonham Carter playing Miss Havisham and Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch. And in celebration the new stage adaptation of Great Expectations opened in September to great acclaim and is coming to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre from October 30 -November 3.
It follows the story of the orphan, Pip, as he tries to make his way in the world and comes across larger than life characters along the way.
Chris, who is in the new stage adaptation, said: "I am a Dickens fan. I have read a lot of Dickens. I love his books. So it is something that interested me."
He said he finds it interesting that the novel has been done so much recently but he said he brought his own thing to the character. Chris said: "I don't look at him as a criminal.
He is a victim of circumstance really."
But he said it is very difficult to interview about Magwitch as he does not want to give too much away.
He said: "There is always a very strong political message to a lot of Dickens' writing. He is a reformer and a person who felt strongly about the injustices of life which comes through in his books.
"The class system and everything else. He was exposing really a lot of the awful things which went on in Victorian times.
"A lot of his writing is very relevant to today's society. The hypocrisy of politics and all that kind of thing.
"He was very aware of it and he brought people's attention to it.
"Some of his characters are larger than life although they are not all like that."
And he said the show is quite spooky.
He said: "I don't really know how to describe it. It is not one of those trying to get away from the book.
"It definitely deals with as much as it can in two hours."
The lighting and set is amazing, he said and he hopes it goes to the West End.
But of course, most people still remember him for playing DCI Frank Burnside in The Bill, which he said is a very distant memory now.
He said: "It was a good job while it lasted. I had a lot of fun on it. You kinda move onto different things.
"You just keep working."
He played the character for five years, which then followed with a spin-off series Burnside, which he said probably didn't do him any favours in the long run but he said you go what you have got.
He said: "A lot of people think it is still going. They say, 'I miss The Bill. I haven't seen it for a while.' A lot of people seem to live in a vacuum of unreality."
And for panto season he is playing Captain Cook in Peter Pan at Rickmansworth, where he is also going to display some of his art work as he is a trained artist.
I asked if he liked playing the villain. He said: "It is not that I like it. It is just what I get offered. They are not going to offer me the Fairy Queen."
Great Expectations is at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre from October 30- November 3 at 7.30pm with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets are £10-£27 from 0844 8717607 or go to www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury
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