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Belfast Telegraph Home > Lifestyle > Arts

From Darling Buds to hell of trenches

By Eddie McIlwaine

18 January 2005

The man who gave Catherine Zeta Jones her first screen kiss will be in Belfast next month.

The actor is coming to the Grand Opera House with the play Journey's End.

Philip Franks, whose tax inspector fell madly in love with her country lass in Darling Buds of May eight years ago, will be playing gentleman soldier Osborne in R C Sherriff's gripping play about courage in the stinking mud-filled trenches of the First World War.

And the actor who went on to star as a station sergeant with Adensfield police in Heartbeat, is hoping that all the questions he's going to be asked about the girl he helped on the way to screen stardom, won't detract from the seriousness of Journey's End which is about ordinary men caught up in the killing fields and preparing to go over the top.

"I'm always asked about Catherine and I don't mind talking about her," he said. "But this is a special play and deserves full attention."

Journey's End, written by Sheriff as a direct result of his own grim experiences in the trenches, is celebrating its 75th anniversary on this tour.

Sheriff, the writer who was also responsible for the screenplay of the hit war film The Dambusters and helped to launch the career of Sir Laurence Olivier, never forgot his time in uniform and all these years later his Journey's End is back in the West End and packing in the audiences.

Tickets for Journey's End at the Opera House from Monday February 21 for a week are now available at the theatre's ticket office 9024 1919.

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