Peter Bowles & Penelope Keith – 'Rivals' once again


In another of our “what are they doing now” features, we had to look no further than the classic Theatre Royal in Bath. Peter Bowles (Richard DeVere) and Penelope Keith (Audrey fforbes-Hamilton) have been reunited once again, this time in the stage production of Sheridan’s The Rivals at the Theatre Royal in Bath. You might remember their classic 20-episode “will they, won’t they” relationship in the classic British comedy, To the Manor Born, which, thankfully, lasted 21 episodes with the “final” episode delivering one of the highest audiences in the UK and one of the most celebrated and highly anticipated television weddings of the all-time.

Personally, for me, this has always been what has elevated British comedy well-above their American counterparts. There isn’t a night somewhere in England that you won’t find a very familiar face from your favorite British comedy performing in either one of the many strong regional theatre’s or on London’s West End stage. It’s not uncommon to see the likes of Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith, Patricia Routledge, Judi Dench or any of a number of other Britcom stars on stage. Though many will argue it’s the writing that sets British comedy apart, of which I will whole-heartedly agree, it’s also the incredible talents of the actors and actresses involved that have had years and years of formal training at places such as The Old Vic or the Royal Shakespeare Company.

You might remember last Fall when we caught up with Ms. Keith in Bath for our taping of the PBS special, More Funny Ladies of British Comedy, just prior to her going onstage at the Theatre Royal in the Richard Everett comedy, Entertaining Angels. Looking at the upcoming Playbill on the way out, we noticed that the next play there starred Penelope’s Good Life co-star, Felicity Kendal.

Both Bowles and Keith are collecting well-deserved strong reviews, such as this one in the Telegraph, for their portrayal of Sir Anthony Absolute and Mrs. Malaprop in this 1775 comedy set in, you guessed it, 18th-century Bath. Next time you find yourself looking for something to do most anywhere in England, take a moment, look up at the marquee of the nearest theatre and I’ll bet you’ll recognize the name in lights.