AS a crime scene policeman for 32 years on the Taunton and Bridgwater beat, Barrie Palmer cracked mysteries and masterminded a way to identify shoeprints.

Then, aged 52, Barrie won a place at Bristol Old Vic’s Theatre School – Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Daniel Day-Lewis’ training ground – and the rest, as they say, is history.

As an actor he has been in EastEnders, understudied Simon Callow, trod the RSC boards and performed in Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies.

In 2010 Barrie set up the GB Theatre Company, which brings its double-whammy of outdoor Shakespeare to Taunton Deane with The Comedy of Errors and Macbeth later this August.

Barrie tells the County Gazette: “I can honestly say, hand on heart, that this year you’ll be seeing our best work.

“Eight of the 12 actors are trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and we also have Joyce Branagh, sister of actor Sir Kenneth, in the role of Lady Macbeth.

“I play Egeon in The Comedy of Errors with three or four A4 sides to learn to tell the story right at the beginning, and in Macbeth I get murdered early on as Duncan, King of Scotland, and then come back as an old man with a broad Somerset accent.”

The company received countless applications from dramatists hoping to get in on the action this summer.

Also, Felicity Kendal, of The Good Life fame, agreed to be GB Theatre’s long-term patron.

Barrie, who was performing in Chin Chin with Kendal, said: “I turned to Felicity and said ‘Flick, would you do me a favour?’ ‘Of course I will,’ she said.

“She saw a connection between GB Theatre and her parents’ own company before she was born and was more than happy to support us.”

The GB Theatre company performs The Comedy of Errors in St Mary Magdalene vicarage garden on Friday, August 15, at 7.30pm, and Macbeth at 2.30pm and The Comedy of Errors at 7.30pm the following day.

On Sunday, August 17, the group performs The Comedy of Errors at 2.30pm and Macbeth at 7.30pm on the lawns of Cothelstone Manor near Bishops Lydeard.

Tickets cost £15 (£10 concessions) for afternoon performances and £18 (£14 concessions) for evening performances – book online at