Ex-Archers star heads on the campaign trail

Michael Simkins and Graham Seed in Yes Minister.
Michael Simkins and Graham Seed in Yes Minister.

FORMER The Archers actor Graham Seed knows a few things about sudden downfalls...

As aristocrat Nigel Pargetter, Seed exited the nation’s best-loved radio soap in dramatic style just over 12 months ago, in a storyline to mark the show’s 60th anniversary.

The owner of Lower Loxley Hall suffered the indignity of plummeting to his death from the roof of his home while removing a New Year’s banner.

The much-hyped storyline sent shockwaves around the world - but at the same time ended Seed’s association with the BBC Radio Four programme, one which had lasted nearly three decades.

Now, a million miles away from the fictional rural village of Ambridge, Seed is again staring disaster in the face, this time in his role as Prime Minister Jim Hacker in the smash-hit political satire Yes, Prime Minister, which arrives for a seven-show run at Buxton Opera House this month.

“I do miss The Archers and I always will,” admits Seed, 61, whose TV credits include Brideshead Revisited, I, Claudius, Band of Brothers and Midsomer Murders.

“It certainly has been a very strange 12 months. It’s over a year since I left the programme and it is strange not being a member of the cast, but somehow Nigel Pargetter is still talked about all the time.

“I don’t think I would have been offered the part of Jim Hacker if all the huge publicity surrounding Nigel’s death had not happened. There was quite a bit of reaction to it and that has put some interesting work my way.”

In Yes, Prime Minister, Hacker and his team of advisors, including Cabinet Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby (played by Michael Simkins), must rescue the country from the brink of financial meltdown.

The original writers of the classic BBC TV series, Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, have reunited for this anniversary production, which has already enjoyed sell-out seasons in the West End.

“It is incredibly well-written,” says Seed, comparing the sharp and witty dialogue to that of Coward, Wilde and Shaw.

“There’s so many witty one-liners that Jonathan Lynn has written in. And by the end of the play it revolves into manic farce, which is great.

“I think there is something rather fun about mocking a politician or civil servant. People seem to be looking for a laugh at the moment, which I think tends to happen in recession.”

Despite the demands of live theatre, Seed is enjoying his lengthy stint on stage, hailing it as “great fun, something to get the adrenaline pumping”.

No doubt Mr Cameron would also agree!

l Yes, Prime Minister is at Buxton Opera House from Tuesday March 13 to Saturday March 17 at 7.30pm, with matinees on the Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm.

Tickets, ranging from £15 to £27.50, are available from the Box Office on 0845 127 2190 or visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk.