Lt Columbo is back...

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RICHARD Walsh (London’s Burning) takes on different duties in his latest outing with Middle Ground Theatre Company, Lieutenant Columbo In Prescription: Murder which plays Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre from Monday to Saturday, March 14 to 19.

The Flemmings’ marriage is in trouble. On returning from a late-night consultation, Doctor Flemming has to soothe his angry wife with the promise of a long-overdue vacation. When she is found dead, Columbo is brought in to investigate and the seeds of doubt are planted in his mind…

“This is my fifth or sixth production with them,” says Richard. “The guy that runs it, Michael Lunney, originally chose me because he likes what I did on TV, and he has built up like a repertory company. He has a pool of character actors that he pulls in.

“For this one, he has got Brian Capron, who was in Coronation Street, playing the villain, and Brian is very good at being menacing and sauve.

“And he has got John Guerrasio playing Colombo, an American actor who is pretty unknown over here, but he is just so brilliant in the part. He is a New York guy. He just really gets inside the character. He gets under his skin.

“In the past two or three productions, Mike has asked me to cast the shows with him, and we were looking for a guy to understudy Brian as the villain and also to play the small part of a district attorney.

“We couldn’t get anybody. Mike asked if I would do it. But it’s not the kind of thing I would normally do. The district attorney is just on stage for three minutes.”

But in the end, Mike and Richard came to an arrangement that Richard would take a wider role as well, effectively looking after the show on the road, making sure it remains sharp - and all the while standing in readiness should anything befall Brian.

“You’ve got to know the lines, but when you have been touring a play for a while, they will just sink in.

“You hear them relayed into everybody’s dressing rooms, and you just absorb it.”

So Richard is ready?

“It won’t ever happen! Just don’t go there!”

Tickets on 01483 440000 or www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk. From March 29- April 2, the show also plays the Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne.