Hugh the first to appear
Playing God must be tempting for any actor, and six have signed up to take on the role in hit West End musical Spamalot throughout the summer, to raise money for charity.
Hugh Bonneville, Bradley Walsh, Simon Callow, Larry Lamb, Christopher Biggins and Barbara Windsor — the show’s first woman in the role — will take the place of Eric Idle.
The Monty Python star usually appears on a film screen during the stage comedy, but the new stars will be shown for one week each instead.
They have all pre-recorded their scenes on film for what is being billed as the Summer of Charity Gods.
Each celebrity has donated their fee to their chosen charity. Those to benefit are Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Great Ormond Street children’s hospital, Scene & Heard, Stage For Age and Keats Community Library.
Downton Abbey star Bonneville, 49, who will be the first to appear, next Monday, said: “I wanted to play God in Spamalot in order to support Scene & Heard, a north London charity, which gives local young people living in challenging circumstances the opportunity to work with arts professionals and create theatre scripted entirely by the children.
“I’m grateful to the producers of Spamalot for this novel way of bringing attention to Scene & Heard’s inspirational work. I’m also delighted to be involved with the show because an ancestor on my mother’s side was in fact one of the knights who say ‘Ni’.” Windsor, 75, joked: “I wanted to play God in Spamalot because having been 4ft 10½ inches tall all my life, this would be the first and only time people would look up to me.”
Theatre veteran Callow, 64, added: “I wanted to play God because it’s such a challenging role for a mere mortal. Spamalot is a work of genius and God is the climax. So it was irresistible.
“The charity to whom I’ve donated my fee is the Keats Community Library in Hampstead, scandalously closed by the local authority and reopened by a group of local people headed by my friend, the wonderful actor Lee Montague.
“I used to live round the corner as a young actor and used the library all the time. Don’t know what I would have done without it.”