Duty Free stars reunited in stage version of TV sitcom

Lying on a sun lounger soaking up the rays and sipping Sangria in a Spanish resort may be the holiday of choice for some people - but not for Derbyshire-born actress Gwen Taylor.

Saturday, 14th June 2014, 10:00 am
Keith Barron and Gwen Taylor with Neil Stacey and Carol Royle in The Last of the Duty Free at Sheffield Lyceum.
Keith Barron and Gwen Taylor with Neil Stacey and Carol Royle in The Last of the Duty Free at Sheffield Lyceum.

“I much prefer city breaks like Paris,” she said. “We have got some beautiful cities in England Scotland which we are seeing on tour.

“I am not so interested in lying in the sun. You don’t want to go away to the Mediterranean and find a drunk from your street there.”

Long before the days of the TV sitcom Benidorm painting a less than flattering picture of Brits abroad, Gwen starred in Duty Free about two couples from different social classes meeting up on holiday.

Keith Barron, Joanna Van Gyseghem, Neil Stacy, Gwen Taylor and. Carlos Douglas [Waiter] in the TV programme Duty Free.

Duty Free ran from 1984-86 and at its peak was pulling in 16m viewers, not bad going for a show that was set in Spain but was filmed in a studio in Leeds.

Fast forward 30 years and the sunny, funny show has been relocated to the stage and is heading for Sheffield next week.

The stage show reunites Gwen with Keith Barron in the roles of working-class couple David and Amy. Gwen said: “We got a bit weepy when we started to read through the script.

“It was frighteningly easy slipping back into character. The same elements are there, the hopeless romanticism of the husband, the deep cynicism of the wife.

“It is very much the same message as before except that we are 30 years older and there are different issues such as we can’t do all the things that we used to do.”

The cast of Duty Free, mostly composed of actors in their 70s apart from 60-year-old Carol Royle, have been on tour for six weeks.

Gwen, who is 75, said: “I find touring is very exhausting, we’ve been in Edinburgh, we’re in Guildford and then we go to Sheffield. It used to be fun, now it’s hard work.”

Sheffield isn’t’ far from where Gwen spent the early years of her life. She was born in Derby and lived in Crich until the age of 11. She said: “It was a lovely childhood home - I have so many happy memories. We could go out at the weekend with a bottle of water and a picnic and be out all day on the tors above Crich.

“My granddad lived on The Common at Crich and had a smallholding where he kept ducks and chickens and grew fruit.”

Duty Free runs at Sheffield Lyceum from Monday June 16 to Saturday, June 21.