Gary Wilmot: Home and away

PUBLISHED: 15:17 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:07 20 February 2013

Gary Wilmot is a household name, thanks to the number of hit musicals he has starred in during his 30-year career: Me And My Girl, Copacabana, Oliver!, Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang to name a few. Now he is touring the country in Chicago as Billy Flynn...

What made you choose to live in Beaconsfield?
I worked at the Wycombe Swan several times many years ago and I just fell in love with the area. There's great countryside, good roads and the trains into London are fast. So, I moved to Hazlemere and lived there for three years before moving to Beaconsfield about six years ago. It's lovely. I really enjoy it and have become part of the community - everyone is so friendly.
It's also such a beautiful place. I am at the foot of the Chilterns which I love because I am a cyclist. I get out whenever I can and it's a wonderful place to cycle. Going up hill can be a bit demanding, but riding down hill is the best feeling! And, the country pubs are good too! The Crown at Penn is a favourite.

Billy Flynn is a smooth-talking Chicago lawyer; had you always had your eye on the role?
Yes I had! I was ecstatic to get asked to play him on tour. I had always loved the show and in particular the character of Billy Flynn. I was delighted when finally asked. Chicago is such a fantastic show: it's funny, clever and slick with the most brilliant ensemble you have ever seen. My limbs can't begin to do some of the fancy choreography the dancers do. They are amazing.

Where did your musical interest come from?
Harry, my father, was a member of the 1950s group The Southlanders. He was best known as the bass voice in the song I Am A Mole And I Live In A Hole. He died when I was seven, so I didn't get to know him that well, but performing has always been in my blood.

When did your performing days start? I began mucking about at school. I would do impressions to make my mates laugh. I did lots of sports and there was plenty of opportunity to fool around and have a laugh. I liked being the life and soul of the party!

What other jobs have you done?
I was a fork lift driver and a scaffolder for a year. That was too much like hard work. I was a messenger too. I then landed jobs on television, singing and doing comedy. That was much more me!

What do you like to do when you have time off?
I am an Arsenal fan. I played in Arsenal's celebrity team for about five years, but I don't have the time now.
I tend to be working most Saturdays. I enjoy watching games when I can. Even when I have spare time, I tend not to be too far from show business. I play the piano (badly!) and I have written musicals, songs and two films. They have not been produced, but perhaps I will be like Van Gogh and when I am dead they'll discover my masterpieces in the attic. I am also very good at sleeping!

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