A headshot of actor John Lyons with blue text reading John Lyons

An interview with Father Brown star John Lyons

Posted on: Tuesday 13 July 2021

Actor John Lyons is set to reprise the role of Father Brown in Rumpus Theatre Company's Father Brown: The Murderer in the Mirror at the Pomegranate Theatre from Tue 27 - Thu 29 July. He will return to Chesterfield in November to play Alan Parfitt in the political thriller Dead Lies. An accomplished actor of both stage and screen, John is best known for playing Sgt George Toolan alongside Sir David Jason in Touch of Frost. 

You will be playing Father Brown in Father Brown Murderer in the Mirror. This isn’t the first time you have played the character of Father Brown, what is it that draws you to the character?

Correct. I took on the role of Father Brown four years ago for Rumpus Theatre Company, playing all over the country, including the lovely Pomegranate Theatre.  I do like the character of dear old Father Brown - he is a gentle old soul, with a warm heart and a lively mind. A bit like me really.

Can you tell us a bit more of what the show is about?
The action is set in a London Theatre in the year 1927.  Father Brown has been asked to come and watch the final dress rehearsal of a new play, written and produced be Mundon Manderville.  As the title of the play suggests, a murder takes place whilst Father Brown is in attendance. At this time, the police are unable to attend, which leaves Father Brown to try to unmask the murderer. Will he succeed? There`s only one way to find out.

What is the biggest challenge in taking this role?
For me, having to get all that dialogue in my head. Not easy for an old actor of seventy-eight.  Then there is the concentration needed for every performance. Not easy, but very satisfying.

What is going to surprise people about this play?
After one of the characters is murdered, apart from "Father Brown" six possible culprits are left. Will you get there before the clever old Priest?

Besides this role, what is the favourite role you’ve ever played?
Because I played Sgt George Toolan alongside Sir David Jason in a "Touch of Frost" for over seventeen years, that must be it.  Another play I did in a small theatre in London, was an American musical called "Purley". In that I played a landowner in the deep south of the U.S.A.  A completely different sort of part for me, requiring a deep Southern accent. Difficult, seeing as all the rest of the large cast were native Americans, but very rewarding.

You will be back in Chesterfield in October this year with the gritty political thriller Dead Lies, what can you tell us about his play?
Expect the unexpected.  It`s a fast moving, hard hitting, political thriller. Offering a feast of murder, scandal, sexual indiscretion and political intrigue. 

You will play Alan Parfitt what can you tell us about this role?
Alan Parfitt is a Fleet Street political reporter, has been all his working life.  This has meant he has spent most of his time in pubs, drinking and smoking far too much, which is now beginning to tell on his health.  Alan has no family, the closest person in his life is Kate, personal assistant to Peter George, the man who is campaigning to be the next Prime Minister, which is the campaign Alan is covering at present.  Sorry to say, the lonely life he has led, has left him a slightly grumpy, bitter old devil.

You are a regular on the stage at the Pomegranate Theatre, what is your favourite memory from the theatre?
Being able to have my extended family present on the first night of the first Father Brown. All three live up North, so have very few opportunities to see me on stage.

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, how has COVID-19 and particularly lockdown affected life as an actor?
Starting FATHER BROWN - The Murderer in the Mirror in June, is the first piece of acting I`ve done since finishing pantomime back in January 2020.  Luckily, I had two scripts to learn, plus I was commissioned to write my autobiography. All of which kept me very busy.

Your autobiography is out soon, can you tell us a bit more about it?
Over the past ten years, I have worked for P&O cruise ships giving talks on my life, and acting.  Many people would say to me or my wife Ann, "Has your husband ever written a book?" My answer was always, "No, I don`t think I have the patience." But, along came Lockdown and with prompting from my agent, I set about the task.  Once I got started, I began to enjoy it greatly. I hope if you should read it, you too will enjoy it.  Out now:  "Not just George".

You’ve had a very varied acting career across both stage and screen, can you pick any highlights?
My very first job on leaving drama school was the musical "Oh, What a Lovely War!" We toured with that show all over the country, followed by two tours of Europe. Each actor played eight different roles. Great experience. On that tour I shared rooms with my great friend Nigel Hawthorne. He came to our wedding. Sadly, no longer with us.  Of course, I couldn`t forget working alongside Sir David Jason on "Frost" for all those years.

What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage?
We actors are a superstitious lot.  For me, I always touch wood three times before going on. Silly, but there you are.

What can audiences expect from a trip to see Father Brown Murderer in the Mirror?
A classic murder mystery thriller, well written, well-acted, if I say so myself, with a plot that includes a murder and intrigue. It will keep you guessing!

Father Brown: The Murderer in the Mirror is on at the Pomegranate Theatre from Tue 27 - Thu 29 July. Tickets are on sale now

An interview with Father Brown star John Lyons

Actor John Lyons is set to reprise the role of Father Brown in Rumpus Theatre Company's Father Brown: The Murderer in the Mirror at the Pomegranate Theatre from Tue 27 - Thu 29 July. He will return to Chesterfield in November to play Alan Parfitt in the political thriller Dead Lies. An accomplished actor of both stage and screen, John is best known for playing Sgt George Toolan alongside Sir David Jason in Touch of Frost. 

You will be playing Father Brown in Father Brown Murderer in the Mirror. This isn’t the first time you have played the character of Father Brown, what is it that draws you to the character?

Correct. I took on the role of Father Brown four years ago for Rumpus Theatre Company, playing all over the country, including the lovely Pomegranate Theatre.  I do like the character of dear old Father Brown - he is a gentle old soul, with a warm heart and a lively mind. A bit like me really.

Can you tell us a bit more of what the show is about?
The action is set in a London Theatre in the year 1927.  Father Brown has been asked to come and watch the final dress rehearsal of a new play, written and produced be Mundon Manderville.  As the title of the play suggests, a murder takes place whilst Father Brown is in attendance. At this time, the police are unable to attend, which leaves Father Brown to try to unmask the murderer. Will he succeed? There`s only one way to find out.

What is the biggest challenge in taking this role?
For me, having to get all that dialogue in my head. Not easy for an old actor of seventy-eight.  Then there is the concentration needed for every performance. Not easy, but very satisfying.

What is going to surprise people about this play?
After one of the characters is murdered, apart from "Father Brown" six possible culprits are left. Will you get there before the clever old Priest?

Besides this role, what is the favourite role you’ve ever played?
Because I played Sgt George Toolan alongside Sir David Jason in a "Touch of Frost" for over seventeen years, that must be it.  Another play I did in a small theatre in London, was an American musical called "Purley". In that I played a landowner in the deep south of the U.S.A.  A completely different sort of part for me, requiring a deep Southern accent. Difficult, seeing as all the rest of the large cast were native Americans, but very rewarding.

You will be back in Chesterfield in October this year with the gritty political thriller Dead Lies, what can you tell us about his play?
Expect the unexpected.  It`s a fast moving, hard hitting, political thriller. Offering a feast of murder, scandal, sexual indiscretion and political intrigue. 

You will play Alan Parfitt what can you tell us about this role?
Alan Parfitt is a Fleet Street political reporter, has been all his working life.  This has meant he has spent most of his time in pubs, drinking and smoking far too much, which is now beginning to tell on his health.  Alan has no family, the closest person in his life is Kate, personal assistant to Peter George, the man who is campaigning to be the next Prime Minister, which is the campaign Alan is covering at present.  Sorry to say, the lonely life he has led, has left him a slightly grumpy, bitter old devil.

You are a regular on the stage at the Pomegranate Theatre, what is your favourite memory from the theatre?
Being able to have my extended family present on the first night of the first Father Brown. All three live up North, so have very few opportunities to see me on stage.

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, how has COVID-19 and particularly lockdown affected life as an actor?
Starting FATHER BROWN - The Murderer in the Mirror in June, is the first piece of acting I`ve done since finishing pantomime back in January 2020.  Luckily, I had two scripts to learn, plus I was commissioned to write my autobiography. All of which kept me very busy.

Your autobiography is out soon, can you tell us a bit more about it?
Over the past ten years, I have worked for P&O cruise ships giving talks on my life, and acting.  Many people would say to me or my wife Ann, "Has your husband ever written a book?" My answer was always, "No, I don`t think I have the patience." But, along came Lockdown and with prompting from my agent, I set about the task.  Once I got started, I began to enjoy it greatly. I hope if you should read it, you too will enjoy it.  Out now:  "Not just George".

You’ve had a very varied acting career across both stage and screen, can you pick any highlights?
My very first job on leaving drama school was the musical "Oh, What a Lovely War!" We toured with that show all over the country, followed by two tours of Europe. Each actor played eight different roles. Great experience. On that tour I shared rooms with my great friend Nigel Hawthorne. He came to our wedding. Sadly, no longer with us.  Of course, I couldn`t forget working alongside Sir David Jason on "Frost" for all those years.

What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage?
We actors are a superstitious lot.  For me, I always touch wood three times before going on. Silly, but there you are.

What can audiences expect from a trip to see Father Brown Murderer in the Mirror?
A classic murder mystery thriller, well written, well-acted, if I say so myself, with a plot that includes a murder and intrigue. It will keep you guessing!

Father Brown: The Murderer in the Mirror is on at the Pomegranate Theatre from Tue 27 - Thu 29 July. Tickets are on sale now