After the Garrick
Here we feature members of the Garrick who have gone on to have further careers in entertainment after they have left the playhouse.
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Top TV producer worked at Altrincham Garrick
HIS name might not be instantly recognisable, but his TV programmes need no introduction. Gareth Gwenlan, whose credits as a producer range from iconic sitcoms like Only Fools and Horses, returned to his old stomping ground last week. He was artistic director at Altrincham Garrick Theatre in the mid-1960s and although his tenure at the Barrington Road playhouse was short, he made a big impression on the actors who appeared in his productions. Gareth came to the Garrick after answering an advert in The Stage and said the theatre made an instantly positive impression on him.When I frst came to the Garrick I was amazed. Instead of having a small number of actors as you do in rep there was this huge pool of acting talent. The most exciting thing I did the Garrick?s first pantomime which I had directed at the Derby Playhouse. It did very well for the Garrick although we probably did break the budget building the sets and making the costumes, he said. Gareth said he was impressed by the refurbishment that has gone on at his former place of work, describing the venue’s exterior and bar area as unrecognisable. In the 60’s he divided his time between lecturing at the Royal Northern College of Music and working at the Garrick. Home was a canal barge, moored near what is now Timperley station. We sailed it all the way from Derby, along the Trent and the Mersey and then on the Bridgewater Canal, he recalls. He left the Garrick after a year because, he said, he ?wanted another ten bob a week. Gareth moved into television and became the BBC’s Head of Comedy. As a producer his credits include To The Manor Born and that brilliant portrait if a man in the throes of a mid-life crisis, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. Gareth has worked with some of the greatest names in British comedy and he said choosing a favourite actor is a difficult decision. It’s a toss up between Leonard Rossiter and David Jason, they’re both fine comedy actors. I would also rate Penny Keith in the same category. She’s an absolutely superb, superb performer, he said. Gareth came to Trafford after completing the editing of a new comedy pilot at the new BBC premises in Salford Quays. The project has re-united him with Only Fools star David Jason. It’s called The Pearly Gates and it’s about a failing family funeral business set in an unspecified town in Yorkshire. Hopefully a series will be commissioned and we will make that later in the year, he said.