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Last Updated: Monday, 18 April, 2005, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Friends cheer Ifans' Bafta award
Rhys Ifans (left) with Aidan McArdle
Ifans' portrayal of Cook had wide acclaim
Friends of actor Rhys Ifans have been celebrating his success in the Baftas.

Ifans, from Ruthin in Denbighshire, won best TV actor for his portrayal of the late comic Peter Cook in the film Not Only But Always.

Accepting his award, he said he wanted to dedicate it to the memory of Cook, who he described as "a true genius".

Ifans' old drama teacher, David Phoenix, said the performer had shown star quality from an early age.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Mr Phoenix - who taught Ifans at Clwyd Youth Theatre, said : "He was born to act - he's a natural actor.

What you see is what you get with Rhys - there is no side to him
Friend Roger Edwards

"When I met him, he was really hungry to act, and he came alive when he went on the stage - just as he does on camera.

"He had a spark in his eye, even as a teenager, and I could see immediately, when he walked on stage, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. He's got charisma - that special something.

"I saw several thousands of people go through the Clwyd Youth Theatre, but he was exceptional - even back then."

Roger Edwards, a friend and neighbour of Ifans' parents, said the Notting Hill actor was remarkably unchanged by fame.

Five years ago, Ifans developed close links with a youth theatre at Brynhyfryd School in Ruthin, of which Mr Edwards was then headteacher.

"He came to the official opening and mave a significant contribution to the funds that were needed to establish the theatre," he said.

Rhys Ifans with actress Anamaria Marinca
Ifans was persuaded to take the part by the quality of the writing

"What you see is what you get with Rhys - there is no side to him. Every time he comes back to Ruthin, he goes to all his old haunts with his old mates."

'Funny, weird and strange'

Ifans, after receiving his award in London, said: "Winning is a relief. Being nominated is the award".

He admitted at being daunted at playing the legendary comedian and satirist for the drama, shown on Channel Four.

"I was a fan of Peter Cook, I was frightened of doing this role, I turned it down several times, but was finally persuaded by the writer and director of the film."

"The writing was the initial thing that broke my will", he said.

Clutching his Bafta, he joked: "I was scared but now I've got a mask."

Asked about accepting the award, he said: "I didn't have to learn any lines for tonight, so it wasn't nerve-wracking. It was like watching Coronation Street. It was funny, weird and strange, and now I want a drink."

Asked how he was going to celebrate, he said: "I'm going to get off my head."

Matt Lucas and David Walliams on their success

In pictures: Bafta TV Awards 2005
17 Apr 05 |  In Pictures
The comic genius of Cook and Moore
29 Dec 04 |  Entertainment
Ifans in tribute to drama roots
07 Feb 05 |  North East Wales
Little Britain: From cult to classic
23 Dec 04 |  Entertainment

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