AFTER being asked twice to consider a tour of The Navy Lark, James Hurn decided it was time to create a theatre show from this long-running radio sitcom.

But he needed help after touring alone with Hancock and Co, so he called on Richard Usher and Mark Earby and together they created The Navy Lark, which is coming to Yeovil in March.

James said: “At shows, members of the audience kept saying to me that I should recreate The Navy Lark, which had over 240 episodes. This happened to me at two separate venues and so I decided to have a look. Two of my favourite people, Jon Pertwee and Lesley Phillips, were in it too. I loved that kind of humour.

“I had worked with Richard and Mark before on Vacant Lot, a radio show script by Tony Hancock that was never made. A relative discovered them and together, we created those two performances.”

Being able to impersonate people was a talent James had from a young age, but something he never expected to use in his comedy career.

He graduated from the classical acting course at LAMDA in 1999 and managed to get an agent soon after.

After a few years of quiet, James auditioned for Dead Ringers, which he was part of for two TV series.

James added: “I’ve always had a passion for comedy and I think the tutors at LAMDA could see that this was an area I was most comfortable in.

“When I was there, there were only 25 people in the year, now I think it has hundreds of courses and students.

“After Dead Ringers I got lots of voice and impression work, it wasn’t something I ever thought I would go into, but it just happened that way.”

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Soon, Alison Jackson who created Double Take, asked James to be part of a new show of hers. She would find the look-a-likes but she needed someone to do the voice work.

James said: “Voice work came naturally to me, I had a very good ear. I could just listen to someone talking and would be able to imitate their voice and facial expressions.

“I’ve got a lot of favourites. I love people that have a lot of character in their voice for example Richard Wilson or Hollywood actors like Morgan Freeman or Alan Rickman, because you have something to latch onto.”

Despite all his TV and radio work, James admitted that theatre shows are most rewarding, and he loves that every live performance is different.

The only problem that can arise is when you make a mistake on stage - which has happened a few times to James. But these have never been stressful moments, as he knows that the slip up can be hilarious for the audience.

James said: “A slip up can be a blessing and you can turn it into a comedy gem if you mess up. I just grab the moment with both hands and use it to my advantage.

“Once I was doing a show and on one section every line began with the same letter – I must have tried to say it about five times!

“Even though it was a mistake, some people thought it was meant to happen.”

James Hurn will be performing in The Navy Lark at The Octagon Theatre in Yeovil on March 5.

He added: “I performed in Yeovil about a year ago with Hancock’s Half Hour. So, it’ll be great to go back.”

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