Mr Bewes may be in his dotage, but put him on a stage and he sparks into life. Ever the old pro, he lives for an audience, especially one like this, whose own formative years mirrored his as one half of The Likely Lads. At the behest of Stand founder Tommy Sheppard, he is back in town to tell his story of a life well lived.
The Assembly Rooms has been good to Bewes. It’s here where he successfully re-invented himself as a purveyor of one-man period pieces like Diary of A Nobody and Three Men In A Boat. It means no-one is actually asking the question Whatever Happened To The Likely Lad?, more I Wonder What Rodney’s Doing This Year?
This is a story he’s been dying to tell, however modestly he insists he had to be cajoled into it. There may not be scandal and sleaze lurking in the back story (or if there is, Bewes is too much of a gent to tell) but names are liberally dropped, from drinking with Messrs Olivier and Guinness, to jetting to Hollywood to hang out with Clement and La Frenais. While the stories themselves might reek of luvvieness, Bewes doesn’t. He still carries the air of a simple, Northern boy made good. He’s thankful and remains slightly awestruck by his life.
And boy, can Bewes deliver a line. His timing is old school perfect. He may have been slung out of RADA but the seven years spent in provincial rep weren’t wasted. The audience is worked in just the right way, hitting them with an anecdote, then taking a wee swig from the wine (or Ribena?) in front of him. Providing you’re of the vintage to remember his 70s heyday, or have an interest in theatrical history, this old raconteur is very pleasant company.