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John plays Vincent Van Gogh in a new Channel 4 production The Yellow House
Photo: © Channel 4
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Meanwhile Jim Broadbent has returned to his Lincolnshire roots to perform for the first time in a theatre established by his parents in 1971
Photo: © Alphapress.com

John Simm turns artist for latest time-travelling role

20 FEBRUARY 2007

John Simm must be getting used to time travel. Not only does he get to re-live the Seventies in his hit drama Life On Mars, but now the Leeds-born actor has taken an even greater leap back in time to play his favourite artist, Van Gogh, in upcoming Channel 4 film The Yellow House.

Despite promising himself a long break after finishing filming the second series of nostalgic cop show Life On Mars, which returned to UK TV screens on Tuesday, the chance to play the iconic maestro was not an opportunity to be missed. "There was no way on earth I could turn it down," John told The Independent. "The day before they told me, I had a beard. But I shaved it off to have a facial and go on holiday. When I heard I'd got the job, I was frantically looking in the mirror and going, 'grow! grow!'."

His recent artistic outing is not the only period offer John has received, either. He's also been given the chance to return to the Eighties, in a new series entitled Ashes To Ashes, a Life On Mars spin-off. While his Life co-star Philip Glenister has signed on the dotted line, John is not to be tempted. "My instinct tells me not to hang around too long," he says.

The 36-year-old thesp is not the only well-known face due to hit UK screens in a period role. Pictures from the set of upcoming BBC 4 production Queen Of The Music Hall show former EastEnders star Jessie Wallace transformed into Edwardian singer Marie Lloyd. She appears alongside Robin Hood hunk Richard Armitage, who plays her first husband. Talented Jessie has apparently recorded an album of music hall songs to coincide with the drama's release.

Meanwhile, acclaimed British actor Jim Broadbent was experiencing some real-life nostalgia at the weekend. The Moulin Rouge star visited the Broadbent Theatre in Wickenby, Lincolnshire, a thespian venture established by his parents. Converted by his father Roy from a Methodist chapel in 1971, it is home to amateur dramatic group The Lindsey Rural Players, of which Jim is now honorary president. Having not taken to the Broadbent stage previously, he made his debut there on Saturday with a reading of Alfred Lord Tennyson's epic poem Enoch Arden.

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