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Sunday, October 11, 1998 Published at 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK


Wisdom gets serious for Casualty

Norman Wisdom: Plays a grieving husband in a forthcoming Casualty

Veteran comedy star Norman Wisdom is to show a different side to his talents when he appears in BBC One's hospital drama Casualty later this month.

Mr Wisdom, 83, is to play a pensioner who is devastated by the death of his wife from a heart attack.

He is hoping the poignant part will help attract backers for his new project, an adaptation of a JB Priestley play, Tober And The Tulpa.

It tells the story of a man who falls in love with a cardboard cut-out of a beautiful woman, but is less enamoured when his fantasy comes to life.

"Living legend"

His agent, Johnny Mans, said: "A lot of people realise Norman is one of our living legends of comedy. But few realise he is also a very good dramatic actor.

"There are a lot of scripts that he has had that he turns down, because at this stage of his career I think he feels it has to be something prestigious.

"This is not just a Casualty sub-plot - he's in it all the way through, and is involved in the final touching scene."

A Casualty spokeswoman said: "He plays a sweet old man bewildered by what happens to his wife. It is a very poignant role."

Sense of humour

But Mr Mans added Wisdom could not help letting his sense of humour get the better of him while working on the episode, to be broadcast on October 17.

"When the actress who plays his wife was supposed to be dead, he kept tickling her feet and sticking his fingers up her nose. He's always the clown," he said.

Wisdom has played serious roles before - appearing as a cancer patient in TV drama Going Gently.

But his 50-year-career has seen him elevated to cult status - he is treated almost as a national hero in Albania, where his slapstick films were among the few movies available during the country's Communist regime.

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