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In the driving seat

IN THE DRIVING SEAT: Starring as Hoke Colburn

YOU CANNOT overestimate the impact that Don Warrington has had on our TV screens.

A staple in British television history, the Trinidadian-born actor began his career at the tender age of 17, after graduating from the Drama Centre London.

He may not be the first black man to regularly grace the UK’s televisions - that accolade belonging to the late great Cy Grant- the actor came to prominence in 1974 on what is generally considered to be one of the best British sitcoms of all time – Rising Damp.

He played the intelligent, collected and handsome student Philip Smith, who constantly brought out the ignorant fears and suspicions of his landlord Rupert Rigsby, played by Leonard Rossiter. Warrington has since been one of the most prolific stars of the stage and screen, starring in a variety of programmes like C.A.T.S Eyes, The Crouches. He has also earned himself a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to drama.

Now the seasoned performer is starring as Hoke Colburn in the award winning West End show, Driving Miss Daisy. The play follows the relationship of an old Jewish woman and her black driver in segregated Georgia in 1948. Dealing with issues of relationships, family life, race and prejudice the story is often hailed as a modern classic, with many notable actors taking on the role of Colburn, most recently James Earl Jones.

Although following an actor like Jones would be a nerve racking experience for many, Warrington says he is not nervous at all. In fact, the actor admitted that it would be foolish for him to turn down the opportunity of acting in this play.

YOUNGER DAYS: Warrington as Philip Smith in Rising Damp

“You can refuse anything,” said the 61-year-old. “But it would be silly to refuse this role. I’m sure people have, but it’s a great role on many levels and there’s not getting away from that. He (Colburn) is a complex character, in that he has to function in a society which is really not geared to him functioning as well as he would like to. He has to make his way in the world and in order to do that he has had to develop certain skills to get through a life that is full of prejudice.”

Still excited by the prospect of a new venture, the Death In Paradise star does not hold any expectations on how the audience will receive the show or his performance. In fact, if the actor has felt any pressure from reprising the role he did not show it.

“Expectations belong to other people, not to me; my job is to act out the role precisely and not to worry about what other people think.

“My job is to present the character in the best way I can and the rest is up to the audience. Everybody will take different things away from the show and that’s fine,” he said.

Looking past the issues of race and hatred that infected many parts of America, this play is about the human condition, something that Warrington believes makes it an ever popular story.

“I think it’s a human story, a story about relationships and I think everybody is interested in relationships and how people keep them together or blow things apart. I think that is interesting, being lovers or parents or friends’ that the stuff of life.”

Driving Miss Daisy is at the Royal Theate from November 22. For more information visit:

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