From friend to fierce in Dead Sheep

Dead Sheep to be presented at the Devonshire Park Theatre
Dead Sheep to be presented at the Devonshire Park Theatre

Political waters have been stormy lately but conflict is nothing new - back in Margaret Thatcher’s day the government was equally traumatised by division and loss of loyalty.

Just as Great Britain’s political parties have torn themselves apart over Europe so the Iron Lady herself faced crisis from within.

The timing could not be better for Jonathan Maitland’s play Dead Sheep which tours the UK this autumn; it passes through Birmingham during the Tory Party conference ahead of its trip to Eastbourne which was of course former MP the late Ian Gow’s constituency. The play will be performed at the Devonshire Park Theatre from November 8-12.

The play portrays Mrs Thatcher’s downfall at the hands of Geoffrey Howe who famously elicited the remark from MP Denis Healey that an attack from him was like “being savaged by a dead sheep.”

Jonathan Maitland said, “When I wrote Dead Sheep in 2014 I knew it would be resonant. But it now feels uncanny. Then, as now, it was a story of a government split over Europe, agonising conflicts of loyalty, and a fatal miscalculation by a seemingly impregnable Prime Minister. The timing couldn’t be sweeter: especially since we’re playing Birmingham in September, during the week of the Tory party conference.”

Dead Sheep is directed by Ian Talbot OBE, and will tour the UK from September – November with Steve Nallon returning to the production to star as Margaret Thatcher, having portrayed her for many years on the political puppetry satire Spitting Image.

Paul Bradley, best known for playing Professor Elliot Hope in Holby City, will play Geoffrey Howe, Carol Royle will play Elspeth Howe, Graham Seed will play Ian Gow / Nigel Lawson, Christopher Villiers will play Bernard Ingham / Alan Clark / Dennis Thatcher and John Wark will play Stephen Wall / Brian Walden.

Jonathan Maitland is a broadcaster and writer. He reported for Radio 4’s Today programme in the 1990s, before co-presenting BBC1’s Watchdog and ITV 1’s House of Horrors. He has presented ITV1’s flagship current affairs show, Tonight, for the last 16 years. He has interviewed, amongst others, Tony Blair, Madonna, Henry Kissinger and Bob Geldof and written for national newspapers. Dead Sheep was his debut play at Park Theatre, which was then followed by the highly controversial An Audience with Jimmy Savile, starring Alistair McGowan, which went on to smash his existing box office record. His third play at the venue, Deny Deny Deny, which will tackle doping in sport, will open in November.

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