Tom Chambers on Holby highlights and cheating death as new show comes to Norwich
PUBLISHED: 12:03 30 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:41 30 December 2019
Star of stage and screen Tom Chambers is bringing a masterclass in suspense to Norwich Theatre Royal this January in Dial M for Murder, which was made famous by Alfred Hitchock's 1954 film.
Tom Chambers is a familiar face to many as doctor and lovable lothario Sam Strachan in medical drama Holby City, where his storylines included his romance with his boss Connie Beauchamp, who he ended up having a child with called Grace, and his diagnosis of stage three Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
His other credits include Father Brown, Waterloo Road and he has proved himself as a triple threat as the winner of Strictly Come Dancing in 2008, with pro Camilla Dallerup, and this is the second time he has performed at Norwich Theatre Royal after rave reviews for his roles in musicals Top Hat and Crazy for You.
In December 2000, Chambers cheated death when the British Airways flight he was on from London to Nairobi was hijacked, but thankfully as it plunged to the ground the pilots managed to recover control and all passengers landed safely.
The experience has made him grateful for every opportunity and it gave him the kick he needed to propose to his now wife Clare Harding, who he now has two young children with.
Ahead of the show coming to Norwich, Tom spoke about what audiences can expect from Dial M for Murder, his Holby City highlights and how a Fred Astaire dance got him the role of Sam Strachan.
Are you looking forward to returning to Norwich?
I have great memories of the theatre and it has got a really nice feel to it and I really enjoyed walking through Norwich.
We also used to stay with my mum's best friend from school in Sheringham.
What can audiences expect from Dial M for Murder?
I was subject to a scam recently, even though I think of myself as quite savvy, and they sounded like they were a legitimate company on the phone and talked in such a way they managed to get my details and this drew me to the show.
It is a fabulous story and the writing is timeless - you could be watching a modern day murder mystery like Line of Duty.
We are setting it in the 60s as we wanted it to be dynamic and I think of Tim Henman when playing my character, I have nothing against him as he is a national treasure, as Tony is a tennis star but never quite wins the big trophies.
Tony then gets married but his new wife wants him to quit tennis, which is his life and dream, and he then discovers she is having an affair and someone is writing to her.
He steals the letter and his brain becomes consumed by revenge, fear and anxiety and he plots to kill his wife.
The play, written by Frederick Nott, was made famous by the 1954 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, how similar is the new stage adaptation?
I have deliberately not watched it yet, so it won't influence how I play the role.
We are living in a completely different era so putting today's values into the same story there is bound to be a different energy and sentiment.
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You appeared as Sam Stratchan in Holby City from 2006 to 2008 - what were your favourite storylines on the show?
I always enjoyed battling with Connie [played by Amanda Mealing] as we had a good chemistry and a fiery and argumentative relationship with love undertones.
The Non-Hodgkin lymphoma story was beautifully written, which I also shaved my head for, and it was way before Twitter so I had so many letters from people who had it themselves who thanked me for doing it justice and raising awareness.
You were reintroduced in 2016 on sister show Casualty - did you enjoy briefly reprising the role?
I really enjoyed it but it was a shame that Sam was made bolshy and arrogant after returning from New York, as when he was first in Holby he was like an energetic puppy dog and wore his heart on his sleeve.
In 2009 you played executive headmaster Max Tyler in Waterloo Road - what were your school days like?
I was too scared to get into trouble but I was cheeky and a bit of a joker and we would put 2ps on the table to see if the teacher would put it in their pocket.
There was a few mean teachers but there was no one as evil and horrible as Max.
You also won the sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2008, what was it like to win the show?
It is one of the greatest normal person opportunities on the planet and you get world championship level one-to-one tuition and it was the most incredible experience.
I don't really remember much as my brain went into flight mode and I was so focused and a lot of it was muscle memory.
The recognition was instant and was a huge life change all of a sudden as I was suddenly on the front page on newspapers and magazines, which was something I didn't particularly enjoy.
I love people and talking but I don't enjoy fame at all and I have stumbled on it by accident.
Is it true that a video of you doing a Fred Astaire dance got you the part on Holby?
My agent fired me as I didn't accept the Bob the Builder arena tour, which wouldn't even have been acting but driving vehicles, and it was three years after I'd left drama school so I thought I'd try and get on the Royal Variety Show before the days of Britain's Got Talent and YouTube.
Over nine months I spent 5,000 hours recreating a Fred Astaire dance and recorded it on VHS tape and in the end the Royal Variety said the show was already full.
I then asked my old school if I could film on their stage and sent out 1,000 copies - 400 to the US and 600 to the UK and it turned out the people at Holby were looking for an American doctor for a couple of episodes and had thought I was American.
I did the audition and they said they thought I was better than that role and to come back next week for another character and then I got the role of Sam.
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You've previously spoken about how you proposed to your wife Clare after a hijack attempt on a plane you were on in 2000 - did that change your outlook on things?
I had a message from my friend a few weeks ago who is on holiday at the moment and met a nice man called Harry who is a retired British Airways captain and a friend of the captain on the flight which nearly went down which I was on.
The co-pilot had been an ex RAF Tornado pilot and without quick thinking it would have crashed.
It made me very thoughtful and I didn't become anything apart from grateful.
What else is in the pipeline and is there anything you'd still like to achieve?
I'd love to do more Father Brown as it so charming and I would also like to do Death in Paradise and it would be lovely to film abroad - I feel very envious of anyone that got to do Pirates of the Caribbean.
I have young children so I don't want to be away from my family for too long so it is all about keeping the balance right.
Why should people get tickets to Dial M for Murder if they haven't already?
I think a live shared experience is one of healthiest forms of entertainment and the show is thrilling and intriguing and makes you realise that what you see is not always what you get.
Dial M for Murder comes to Norwich Theatre Royal from January 21 to 25, with tickets from £10 to £33.50, and you can purchase tickets online at theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk, by phone on 01603 630000 or in person at the box office.