Tony takes a look at the end of an era

PUBLISHED: 10:38 23 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:14 06 May 2010

Tony Phillips prepares for his role in Spivs

Tony Phillips prepares for his role in Spivs

FOR Tony Phillips, there is only one way to sum up his lengthy and varied career. The thing I always say is I m an entertainer because that covers a broad spectrum of things I do, he said. And there is indeed a broad spectrum to cover. Since starting hi

FOR Tony Phillips, there is only one way to sum up his lengthy and varied career.

"The thing I always say is I'm an entertainer because that covers a broad spectrum of things I do," he said.

And there is indeed a broad spectrum to cover.

Since starting his showbiz career in the 1950s, Tony, 65, has been an actor, a singer in various rock and roll bands performing around the world, a song writer and a writer.

His love for performing was ignited when he was just five years old.

Sitting on his father's shoulders as the post-war victory parade went past in Tower Bridge Road, London, young Tony, who now lives in Hitchin, was overwhelmed by the spectacle and power of the parade.

Two years later, at a cinema in Lewisham, Tony gazed up adoringly at Alan Ladd and decided he wanted to be a film star just like him.

Tony has achieved his ambition and then some, appearing in films with Anthony Hopkins and Dirk Bogarde, as well as on TV and in numerous plays.

Although his career started with acting, he got bitten by the rock 'n' roll bug and spent several years touring the world with bands such as the Fabulous Flintstones and the Wild Angels, as well as working as a song writer.

But by the end of the 1970s, he felt his musical career had run its course.

"I'd kind of done everything I could do musically. I'd done all the good gigs," he said.

After he slipped a disc in his back, Tony rethought his career and decided to go back to drama.

Since then, he has never looked back, and despite being "semi retired" is still active as an actor and writer.

He is also now part of a showbiz family.

In 1992 he married Martha Ross, mother to TV presenters Paul and Jonathan, and herself an actress and performer.

Together they run a theatre company, OK Theatre, which stages two or three new productions a year.

Tony says of his famous stepsons: "We're all in touch, we certainly see each other where and when we can. They're aware of what we're doing and they've been to see different things we've done when they can."

Martha and Tony moved from London to Sun Street in Hitchin earlier this year, and are already singing the town's praises.

"We love it here, it's brilliant.

"What we've found really is the place is so friendly, the people have invited us in and said 'would you like to come here?'."

Tony is already giving something back to his adopted home town, staging a revised version of his one-act play Spivs.

Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins asked if he would like to give a performance in the town, so Tony re-shaped his existing play, setting it around Christmas ready to be performed near the festive season, and asked his old friend, EastEnders actor Peter Dean to guest star with him.

Spivs is an affectionate look at two wheeler dealers, who find themselves in the 1950s at the start of a new era.

"It's kind of all their reminiscing, these two guys chatting away with each other a bit like Del Boy and Rodney," Tony said.

"It's a comedy but there are moments of irony and sadness as well."

The play could be the first of many Tony stages in Hitchin, as he and Martha have not ruled out future projects in the town.

"We're not pushing anything but things come to us. We're just picking our moments to see what we want to do."

* Spivs will be performed on Wednesday, December 6, at 7.45pm at Paynes Park Social Club. Tickets cost £8 or £5 and are available from Hitchin Initiative, 27 Churchyard, 01462 453335.

* Paul Ross is switching on Hitchin's Christmas lights on Thursday, November 30.

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