Life is not Gray for Corrie actor O'Brien in Milton Keynes play

Gray O'Brien and Dennis Lill in The Case of the Frightened Lady
Gray O'Brien and Dennis Lill in The Case of the Frightened Lady

Former Coronation Street star Gray O’Brien says that the audience will be kept guessing throughout his latest play.

He appears in The Case of the Frightened Lady coming to Milton Keynes Theatre from Monday to Saturday May 21 to 26.
Gray said: “We’ve all got an opinion. There are people who don’t want to voice their opinion on religion or politics, but we all want to get involved in stuff like this.
“And we’re big quizzers. We love to quiz and work things out. Audiences are going to puzzle their way through The Case of The Frightened Lady and it will keep them guessing. That’s why you go and see a thriller, isn’t it?
He plays Inspector Tanner in the show entirely set within a country mansion.
Gray added: “The police are called because there’s been a suspicious death. Rather than get in the local constabulary, they bring in the big guns from London because they want to keep it quiet.
“It’s a bit of a pressure cooker situation. We’re all stuck in the reception hallway of this grand house. There are lots of shenanigans going on. So you don’t know exactly what’s happening and everyone’s doing the cloak and dagger thing.
“It’s set at a politically interesting time in 1932. It’s just after the Depression and employment has all changed. Service is about to stop and all these stately homes will become a thing of the past. So there’s a lot about class in there too.”
He also says there is a little bit more about his detective than the usual copper.
Gray said: “In the classic films of the period, the coppers were always a bit thick. We’re trying to get away from that.
“Tanner and his colleague Totti are smart guys. They’re educated. They’re old school coppers but with a modern attitude.
Gray added that the chance to reunite with producer Bill Kenwright persuaded him to work on this show.
He explained: “I did Sleuth for him in 2001, and he’s always come back and offered me work. This came up and I was available. I loved the script. I thought it was something exciting and new from a different writer, because we’ve seen all the Agatha Christies, haven’t we?”
He’s also excited to be out on tour.
Gray said: “You get to see absolutely fantastic places. I’m quite interested in cathedrals, so I always make a point of visiting those. And I’m a very keen cyclist, so I’ll be taking a road bike. I’ll be one of those lycra-bottomed chaps. I think it’s important to keep fit and healthy.
“I’m also a big afternoon tea fan. I do like visiting tea rooms and testing their Victoria Sponge. I don’t really do Twitter very much, but I will tweet a nice afternoon tea. You’ve got to be careful of the cakes, but if you cycle 40 miles you can work off a slice of Victoria Sponge.”
And despite it being eight years since leaving the cobbles and said his time on the show was stressful.
Gray said: “I don’t really remember Coronation Street because the work was so solid. It was three years. I think in one year I did 196 episodes, another 197, out of the 252 that were filmed. You just don’t have any time off. It just becomes crazy. It’s wonderful at the time, but you don’t get the chance to enjoy it.
“The guest artists like me are brought in to facilitate the regulars. You’re never going to be there forever, but you’re extremely busy while you are. I burned out.
“But I’m very grateful for the past television opportunities like Coronation Street, Peak Practice and Casualty. They allow me to be in something like this. I’ve been doing this job for 28 years now, and I’m in it for the long haul.”

For tickets call 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.co.uk/miltonkeynes to book.