Leader credentials

Reece Dinsdale in rehearsals for The Absence of War at Headlong Theatre, Rose Theatre and Sheffield Theatres.''By David Hare.''Directed by Jeremy Herrin.
Reece Dinsdale in rehearsals for The Absence of War at Headlong Theatre, Rose Theatre and Sheffield Theatres.''By David Hare.''Directed by Jeremy Herrin.
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Yorkshireman Reece Dinsdale, currently in rehearsals for The Absence of War at the Crucible Theatre, has only once previously acted in Sheffield.

But it made a lasting impact as he was the lead in Threads, the 1984 TV film visualising the effects of a nuclear attack on the city .

“I will never forget, I took my dad to a screening at a ballroom when the good burghers of Sheffield who helped to get it made were the first to see it,” he says. “At the end, instead of a big round of applause, there was absolute silence. And my dad said, we must never let this happen and it was so moving and powerful.”

The actor who made his name opposite John Thaw in sitcom Home to Roost and went on to play Joe McIntyre in Coronation Street over a long career explains: “I was born and raised at Normanton, near Wakefield, so I have always been West not South Yorkshire and not had much to do with Sheffield.

“I have been privileged to have worked at West Yorkshire Playhouse including the very first production, and have just been back for the first time in 15 years to play Alan Bennett in Untold Stories. The Sheffield Crucible and I have kept missing each other so I am really pleased to be here at last.”

Now he is playing the leader of the Labour Party in a revival of David Hare’s stinging political drama centring on he epic personal struggle of one man and his party’s campaign to lead the country which was inspired by the writer’s first-hand observations of the 1992 General Elections.

“Jeremy Herrin is a brilliant director and he cast me in the central role of a play at the National Theatre called This House, another political play, but playing a real-life character, Walter Harrison, the most famous Labour whip there was and known as the Yorkshire rotweiller,” says Dinsdale.

Then last year he mentioned the possibility of a tour. “I hadn’t been on tour for 23 years and the last time was another play by David Hare in this trilogy, Racing Demon. I agreed without knowing what it was and it was only in September he said ‘it’s George Jones in Absence of War’ and I thought fantastic.

“The irony was first it was another David Hare play but also I used to do a comedy series with John Thaw who played the part in the original production. So it has all come full circle. It was the part and the director that drew me but the bonus is that I come to Sheffield.”

These days he is based in Harrogate. “I lived in London for 20-odd years but when my family came along, we moved back up north. I am a West Yorkshire boy working in South Yorkshire and living in North Yorkshire.

“I haven’t toured for 20 years and it’s only now that the kids are at an age (daughter Elwy is 14 and son Luca, 10) where I can go away. I didn’t even do theatre for a while but I thought post-Corrie I had to show people that wasn’t just what I did.”

The Absence of War runs at the Crucible from February 6-21 and then tours until May 8, two days after the General Election.