From ' Taggart' to Tabard Theatre

Creator of popular detective series brings new play to Chiswick

Chiswick Events


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Tabard Theatre, 2 Bath Road, Chiswick, W4 1LW

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Glenn Chandler created the gritty Scottish detective series ‘Taggart,’ which brought him fame as a television writer and won glory at the BAFTAs, but fringe theatre is his current passion.

Having spent many years writing for stage and television (Dalziel and Pascoe, Crown Court), he makes his directorial debut in Chiswick with his adaptation of ‘The Custard Boys’, based on John Rae’s 1961 novel about a group of teenage boys during the Second World War. The play starts a month-long run at the Tabard Theatre next Tuesday, April 10th.

Taggart became the longest running detective series in the world, loved by audiances from as far away as Australia, Bulgaria, and Scandinavia. Viewers warmed to the series about a group of Glasgow-based police officers, whose central character was tough-talking Detective Chief Inspector Jim Taggart, a role made famous by Mark Mc Manus until his death in 1994. The character’s name was plucked from a Glasgow cemetery.

Glenn Chandler

The show ran for twenty-eight years and became the longest running drama series on British television until ITV dropped it from the network last year- though there are plans to continue the series for Scottish viewers.

But Glenn Chandler, who wrote the scripts from 1983 – 1998 has moved on from detective stories - these days his interests lie in drama, satire, and comedy.

“ I had fifteen wonderful years with Taggart , and it will always be there for me, and it’s still very nice that people come up to me and remember the series “ says Glenn who now lives in Hertfordshire.

Writing for the theatre is far more flexible than television and gives him the opportunity to be far more radical .

“You can take huge risks with a play, in the way that you cannot do with television- TV executives don’t want you take risks, they want something that’s going to be a surefire success because there’s such a lot of money involved.”

Though born in Edinburgh he has lived south of the Border for many years and is pleased to see that fringe theatre is undergoing something of a revival.

“ It’s nothing short of a miracle in these days of recession that people continue to come to their local theatre and support plays.”

Recent offerings from Glenn include ‘Cleveland Street the Musical’ which played to packed houses in London and ‘ Boys of the Empire’ which transferred from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to London’s Kings Head Theatre. The latter also staged ‘ ‘Scouts In Bondage’ ,a satire about a group of scouts whose plane crashes in Afghanistan.

The Custard Boys’ was written by John Rae when he was a House Master at Harrow in 1961, and sparked controversy for its depiction of a gay relationship between two teenage boys. Rae, an educationalist and progressive thinker, was also headmaster of Westminster and Taunton Schools. His novel was made into a film in 1962 as 'Reach for Glory ’ and again in 1979 under its original title.

The drama is centred in Norfolk where the five central characters have been evacuated at the outbreak of war. Too young to join the Army, they long for glory, and tension escalates between them and local youths. It has often been compared to ‘Lord of the Flies’ for its treatment of how boys behave in a group when adult supervision is removed.

“It’s about many things, including the jingoism of war and how it affects young minds, it’s about loyalty, betrayal, sexual awakening, and a spectrum of other events. I think it will have a modern resonance – the characters look at war as a glamorous thing and these days millions of kids play computer games which glorify war, while on the other hand we hear of ten-year olds in African countries who have guns put into their hands”.

Chiswick actor Jack Cameron (centre)

The play is of special local interest as cast member Jack Cameron is from Chiswick. Brought up near Bollo Lane, he is a former pupil of local school Orchard House and Arts Educational School.Recently returned from the US where he studied in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and won the Charles Jehlingler Award for Acting in 2010, Jack says he is hugely excited to be playing his first major role so close to home.

His parents Alastair and Krissie Cameron will be cheering him on when he takes to the stage next week.

Jack’s interest in acting started as a teenager in school plays, and developed from there. He even formed a theatre company with Arts Ed. student friends for a time, and played in' Red Scarf' at the Tabard some years ago.

“ I feel things have come full circle for me. Here I am acting in the Tabard just beside Arts Ed where I played some of my first roles ” said Jack, who has recently been taken by a top theatrical agency.

The ‘ Custard Boys’ is at the Tabard Theatre, April 10-12 May . Contact or phone 020 8995 6035


April 5, 2012