IT IS more than 10 years since Jason Durr played PC Mike Bradley in TV’s Heartbeat, but it’s a role he’ll always be associated with.
He played the 1960s rural Yorkshire cop for six years, watched by millions of viewers – and says he’s very proud of the Sunday evening favourite.
“Anybody who’s been lucky enough to play a part for as long as I did in a long-running series as popular as Heartbeat should be pleased,” he says.
“Inevitably there’s a huge groundswell of people who really enjoyed the show – and still do because they’re always repeating it. It would be foolish not to acknowledge that.
“I love being reminded of it – it was a fantastic experience for me. I really enjoyed it.”
PC Bradley was Durr’s first major role (he took over as the Heartbeat star from Nick Berry) but since then he’s appeared in loads more crime drama – from Midsomer Murders, Lewis and Miss Marple on TV to Sherlock Holmes on stage. He has even played a serial killer in Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion.
“I always look for the part, something exciting that I feel I can get my teeth into,” says the 47-year-old, who’s continuing the crime theme with his latest role – Agatha Christie’s legendary detective Hercule Poirot.
Durr will play the Belgian sleuth in Black Coffee, the only stage play Christie wrote about Poirot, meaning the story – about the murder of an eccentric inventor and the theft of his earth-shattering chemical formula – has never been seen on TV.
“It’s one that David Suchet never did,” says Jason. “It’s a fantastic thriller, whodunit, whydunit, howdunit…. You also get the joy of never having seen it before.
“From the other stories I’ve seen on TV or stage, it measures up very well. She must be doing something right, having sold about three billion books in more than 100 languages! She obviously has an enduring appeal.”
As for taking on the Poirot role so much associated with Suchet’s TV portrayal, he says he wasn’t afraid to take it on.
“Audiences always have an idea of a famous detective whether it’s Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes, but because it’s more immediate on stage rather than TV, they suspend their belief.
“I felt completely OK with it. It’s a fantastic role to play and we’re bringing a new story to a new audience. Poirot has an enduring appeal, a bit like Sherlock Holmes – I mean, when people go to see Hamlet, they don’t question who played it last time.
“For me, it’s like taking on any big role – you take it on its merits, look at the script.”
Jason admits he hasn’t had time to grow his own moustache but feels he has mastered the detective’s accent.
“Most people think he’s French but he’s Belgian,” he explains. “The Belgian accent is fun. I’m very good at accents, I enjoy them whether it’s Yorkshire, Aussie or Scottish. So doing this one I don’t find difficult at all.”
Jason Durr will star as Hercule Poirot in Black Coffee at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Tuesday (August 19) until Saturday, August 23.