Peter Hall was also co-director, albeit a mostly absent one, with Alan Ayckbourn for the latter’s hit comedy play, Bedroom Farce, in which Michael Kitchen was one of the six original castmembers. In this marvelous video from the National Theatre Ayckbourn talks of rehearsing the play and how all the actors doubted their own abilities in the weeks leading up to the premiere:
By the time we got to Birmingham, the cast was suicidal…
I think every single one of them, including Joan Hickson, the great Joan Hickson, and Michael Kitchen – wonderful cast – they all came up to me and said, “I know I wasn’t the first choice*. Uh, but, uh, I want you to know that I’m- I’m rotten at comedy. I’ve never- I’ve never liked doing comedy. Uh, and uh, I was so sorry, I’m letting down your play, and uh, I’m rubbish.”
*Ralph Richardson and Peggy Ashcroft were on the original wish-list.
Hard to imagine that Michael Kitchen with his superb comic timing once thought he couldn’t do comedy. It hadn’t occurred to me that Bedroom Farce was indeed his first major foray into comedy. Thank goodness the Birmingham audience went barmy on opening night and Michael Kitchen went on to many more roles that showcased his comedic talents.
(Also on the photostage.co.uk site, photos of Michael Kitchen in Romeo and Juliet.)
Not only should Netflix retain Foyle’s War, but it should change its cover art for the show to this:
Elizabeth Addis is probably wishing she could restart her life right about now.
A spoof ad featuring voice impressions of all six James Bonds plus Michael Caine, Edward Fox, and Michael Kitchen. 🙂
Found the ad posted on the MI6Community.com forum where another member posted about meeting Michael Kitchen:
Michael Kitchen lived very close to where I grew up in the UK. I was awestruck when he visited my fathers farm one day on business. He was incredibly nice and signed my making of Goldeneye book for me. He did seem genuinely shocked to be recognised. This was before he become more well known in Foyles War.
Michael Kitchen visiting your family’s farm? How does one get so lucky?!
Seems that whenever I come across a mention of Michael Kitchen in the Bond franchise, there is agreement that he was a brilliant Tanner. Again from the MI6community forum, a comment that amused me:
Kitchen’s Tanner is the closest we’ve ever seen of the character being properly portrayed…
Now if I worked for MI6 and was sitting around doing bugger all I can imagine Kitchen giving me a bollocking…
A shame Michael Kitchen had only brief appearances in two Bond films.
A submission from Steve Mellor to the April 2016 issue of “Old Wyves’ Tales”, the newsletter for ex-pupils and staff of Michael Kitchen’s alma mater, City Boys Grammar School Leicester:
Mention of the clock tower brings memories flooding back of the nearby men’s barbers shop – Ron’s. Used by a clique of the more fashionable pupils, therefore excluding myself, Ron used to sell a concoction for holding the most difficult quiff in place – Ron’s Pink. It was a pink-coloured cream, sold in a bottle bearing a black-and-white label bearing an image of Ron and the clock tower. Much favoured by Michael Kitchen, this cream set like concrete after application, resisting wind and any physical attempts to disturb the styling.and far more effective than greasy alternatives such as Brylcreem.
Love the interview with Honeysuckle Weeks in the Spring 2015 issue of Prose ‘n Cons™ Mystery Magazine. True to form, she reveals some wonderful behind-the-scenes details about Foyle’s War and Michael Kitchen.
On Sam and Andrew:
Weeks concedes that delaying Sam’s marriage took a bit of persuasion. “There was talk of a marriage to Foyle’s son Andrew (the R.A.F. pilot) as early as series three I think, but I fought with Anthony for years to allow Sam to remain a ‘spinster of the parish.’
On whale meat:
In one scene, food shortages reduce Sam and Adam to eating whale meat as a protein source. If she looks a bit queasy, admits Weeks, “it was because I had a very hard time not retching at the smell of those whale steaks sizzling in the pan.”
On Sam and Adam’s house:
The interiors of Sam’s house were shot in a former brewery the art department turned into a sound stage. “You could still smell that oddly yeasty aroma from the fermenting hops,” says Weeks.
And on Michael Kitchen!
Considering the seriousness of the subject matter, you might assume that the set of Foyle’s War was a reserved and quiet place, but Weeks assures it was not. “If you were to go into Michael Kitchen’s trailer at lunchtime you could hear him playing the classical guitar. Or, if we happened to be filming at some grand country house, you’d often hear him behind its equally grand piano.” …Weeks prizes her relationship with Kitchen. “He is a decidedly avuncular figure in my life and a person I often go to for professional advice.”
So that’s how MK passes the time in between takes. Doesn’t really dispel the notion of a reserved set — unless he was pounding out a rock tune… 🙂
Wonder if he had a go at this piano:
Playing the piano really should have been another one of Foyle’s pastimes.
On this final day of National Library Week…
From the Glencoe Public Library blog:
There is a bit of wall in a staff area of the library where librarians for a time posted pictures of their favorite actors. One by one, the handsome men were replaced by beloved dogs, past and present. Eventually, only one man’s picture remained among the pooches. That actor? Michael Kitchen. Interpret this as you will, but it does seem to speak to the appeal of the distinguished Mr. Kitchen.
Another librarian commented on the blog, Read Roger :
…a little while back, I displayed the whole stack of [Foyle’s War] DVDs on the circulation desk. The sign just had an arrow pointing to Michael Kitchen with a note that said, “My new boyfriend.”
You wouldn’t believe the number of patrons who came in and got all gushy.
Would have been nice to have Hugh around beyond the first series. Speaking at the WSW London Equity Branch Meeting on December 3, 2015, Michael Simkins brought up Michael Kitchen during the Q&A:
I know that Michael Kitchen has his [nemesis] – he’s frustrated because he doesn’t get enough film parts.
As a fan, I certainly share his frustration. It would be great if he were offered not just more film parts but more substantial ones, too.
A Radio Times (Jan. 1, 1980) interview with Ian Holm recounted the actor’s difficulty in finding work after he left the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967:
The world outside [the RSC] turned out to to be full of American film directors who took one look at him and said, “Sure, he’s a great little actor, but a bit on the short side, y’know?” None of his film roles gave him great scope…
Makes me wonder if Michael Kitchen faced similar obstacles.
(I had no idea what a talented writer Michael Simkins is. The weekly column he wrote for The Guardian around the time he was doing Foyle’s War is illuminating and often hilarious.)
Simon Day and company have begun filming the third series of Brian Pern and were back at Wembley Arena last week. Maybe someone will be nice enough to post some behind-the-scenes photos like this one from S2 posted by the prop company that supplied the Triffid plant. In a recent interview Day and Rhys Thomas discussed how they managed to obtain permission to film at Wembley and how they came by John Farrow’s yacht in A Life in Rock:
Rhys: It’s a cheap programme in a sense, because it’s in a recording studio or talking heads, so that keeps the costs down… but then you prioritise the bits you want to spend your money on. For example, we got a boat…
Simon: Where did you get that boat?
Rhys: Michael Kitchen knew someone. The idea was that his character, John Farrow, is quite wealthy. He’s sort of based loosely on Queen’s manager who lives in Switzerland and is a multi-millionaire. We needed a way to show his wealth. In Episode 3 Brian basically loses all his money in a tax scheme, and it’s quite nice to see Brian losing everything and then his manager in a Sunseeker. He just knew someone at a boat yard and a woman there said ‘oh, yeah, use one of our boats…’!
If I owned a luxury yacht (£12,000 a week to hire), I’d jump at the chance to loan one to Michael Kitchen, too.
Michael Kitchen was a great person to work with. So attentive and just great at what he does and supportive, also.
– Gary Carr
Perk of being an extra on Foyle’s War.
Foyle post-war, pre-MI5 in The Russian House.
Back in 2008 The Orlando Sentinel reported from the Television Critics Association summer tour on the possibility of a seventh series of Foyle’s War:
In especially good news, “Masterpiece” series executive producer Rebecca Eaton said that Michael Kitchen could decide to do more “Foyle’s War.”
“The producers and the writer are working hard to convince him to do it,” Eaton said.
Ever the reluctant star.
The Charlotte Street Hotel looks sublime – fit for a celebrity. Wonder how many recognized MK just sitting out in public like that. I’d probably walk right past him without even noticing him.
Another sighting at the same hotel just last December:
So, yesterday saw us at the Charlotte Street Hotel . Like the other hotels in the group it has a buzzy feeling about it, full of Bright Young Things (aka Hipsters) and Michael Kitchen was drinking in the bar (as spotted by MrS).
Another chap ran into MK in London as well:
Just seen Michael Kitchen at waterloo he was very friendly.
And yet another fan commented under this YouTube video that she met MK in Selfridges Food Hall.
You don’t really need any training to be a dresser; you just need to be a certain kind of person. You can’t be star-struck, and a lot of people are – we live in a celebrity worshipping society. You have to know when to shut up, and when you can chat, and be quite sensitive to other people’s needs.
The actors usually come to the theatre half an hour before the performance.
Some actors need complete quiet when they are in their dressing rooms, and so you learn not to disturb them. Michael Kitchen is one of those. As soon as he came into the building, he would be in his part, and you couldn’t have a laugh or a joke with him, because he was very much in his own head. But in a nice way: he was an extremely nice man. Actually Romeo and Juliet [directed by Peter Bogdanov, 1986] with Michael Kitchen as Mercutio was one of my favorite productions.
– Kate Slocombe, part-time dresser and masseuse at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Backstage Stories, edited by Barbara Baker
Terrific insight into Michael Kitchen behind the scenes. The whole chapter on what it’s like to work as a dresser at the RSC is fascinating. No wonder actors often develop close relationships with their dressers – and sometimes even end up settling down with one of them!
Here’s a neat video of dressers for The King and I helping Kelli O’Hara change from one elaborate costume to another in only 40 seconds: