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Watch Lovejoy star cook up a storm in new play

PUBLISHED: 11:03 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:49 06 March 2019

Caroline Langrishe (Caroline Mortimer) in Caroline's Kitchen. Photo: Sam Taylor

Caroline Langrishe (Caroline Mortimer) in Caroline's Kitchen. Photo: Sam Taylor

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We are no strangers to having a world-famous TV cook in East Anglia thanks to Delia Smith but a new culinary character is heading for the Theatre Royal in Norwich and Mercury Theatre in Colchester, and it brings actress Caroline Langrishe back to the region.

Jasmyn Banks (Amanda) and Caroline Langrishe (Caroline Mortimer)  in Caroline's Kitchen. Photo: Sam TaylorJasmyn Banks (Amanda) and Caroline Langrishe (Caroline Mortimer) in Caroline's Kitchen. Photo: Sam Taylor

Outwardly, Caroline Mortimer has got it made. She is the go-to culinary guru for millions of TV viewers whipping up a storm in the kitchen with ratings hotter than her hit recipes.

But, as is often the case in the fickle and tricky celebrity world, things are very different behind the scenes. And when things begin to unravel while you are in the public eye, anything can (and often) does happen.

That is the core of the razor-sharp comedy Caroline’s Kitchen which comes to Norwich Theatre Royal on March 6-9 and will see Caroline Langrishe returning to the stage after wowing audiences in late 2017 with her performance in another comedy How The Other Half Loves.

She says her latest character boasts traits from a number of different TV food presenters and chefs who we will know well. “Caroline is a celebrity personality chef similar to Nigella mixed with a handful of others including Delia Smith. Caroline, like Delia, presents a similar kitchen programme filmed from her own home which is very popular,” she explained.

Ian McShane and his Lovejoy leading lady Caroline Langrishe.

 Caroline is enjoying being back in East Anglia with new play Caroline's Kitchen. PICTURE ANDY ABBOTTIan McShane and his Lovejoy leading lady Caroline Langrishe. Caroline is enjoying being back in East Anglia with new play Caroline's Kitchen. PICTURE ANDY ABBOTT

But there the comparisons with Delia end. There is no mention of ownership of a football club so no yellow-and-green scarf or cry of Let’s Be ‘Avin You. Caroline also has a much more tangled life away from the cameras and lights of her TV kitchen. “The play opens with this TV show and, very quickly, we see backstage – in other words her real life. It all unravels in one evening. It is a dark comedy that descends into a farce,” she explained.

This is all at odds with the public-facing image of the poised and uber-successful small-screen star. “Caroline is this Home Counties, middle-class woman who appears to have a perfect marriage, perfect kitchen and perfect son who has gone to Eton and Cambridge where he’s just graduated with a First. She is sprightly and at the top of her game, or so she thinks,” laughs Caroline.

Starring opposite her is Aden Gillett who has a strong theatrical pedigree appearing in productions including A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Shakespeare’s Globe, The Doctor’s Dilemma for the National Theatre, and the UK tour of The Winslow Boy. He is also known for his TV roles as Jack Maddox in The House Of Elliott and Edward Campbell in Holby City.

The cast also includes James Sutton (John Paul McQueen in Hollyoaks and Ryan Lamb in Emmerdale) and Jasmyn Banks (Alice Branning in EastEnders and the UK tour of One Man, Two Guvnors).

For Caroline, the return to Norwich and the chance to perform in this area is a joy. As well as appearing in How the Other Half Loves in 2017, she was also part of the cost of the Feydeau farce Bang Bang at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre the same year, which was adapted by John Cleese and directed by Nicky Henson.

Probably her biggest association with East Anglia would be when she played the auctioneer Charlotte Cavendish in the BBC’s beloved comedy-drama Lovejoy starring Ian McShane which was filmed in and around East Anglia. Charlotte recalled: “The joy of Lovejoy was that it was filmed from April to September. We were based in Long Melford and it was just like joining a brilliant party that went on all summer. It was great and really, really good fun. It was so utterly beautiful.”

Going back even further, Caroline also has happy memories of being part of Anglia TV’s highly regarded drama output with a role in the iconic Tales Of The Unexpected starring in an episode back in 1981. Entitled Shatterproof, it told the story of a husband who discovers his young wife has commissioned an assassin to kill him. Caroline laughed: “That was an incredibly long time ago. Eli Wallach, the American actor, played my husband in it. I just couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t really been further north than Kent at that time. I have got to know Norfolk a lot better since as I have some great friends up there but there does need to be another television series based there, sharpish.”

Caroline is promising people who come and see Caroline’s Kitchen will leave with a smile on their faces. “We enjoy the audience laughter. It is what keeps us going. We hope they will be constantly surprised by what is going on. There is no time to drift off,” she said.

So turn up the laughter-levels to boiling point, stir in the comedy ingredients gradually and then serve up Caroline’s Kitchen to feed the appetite of theatre-goers who want to enjoy a fantastically-entertaining play.

Caroline’s Kitchen, by Torben Betts, will be at the Colchester Mercury from April 9-13.

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