Larry's happy to tell the story of his complex life
PERHAPS best known for his role as EastEnders' Archie Mitchell, one of the memorable villains of British soap, Larry Lamb should have no problem bringing his devious reputation to the stage as he lines up to play another crook in this year's Croydon panto, Aladdin.
Cast as the evil Abanazar, the 63-year-old will be involved in only his second pantomime ever, after last year playing Captain Hook in St Albans.
"I really enjoy theatre work because there's always an element of the community there," he said. "It differs from roles on TV where everyone knows you. You perform over and over again and really get involved with the character. Some of my favourite roles are on the stage."
The TV star – who also plays Gavin's dad Michael Shipman in the multi-award-winning Gavin & Stacey, and has chalked up appearances in A Touch of Frost, Taggart, Casualty, Kavanagh QC, Spooks, Midsomer Murders and The Bill – is also to attend a book signing of his autobiography Mummy's Boy at Waterstone's booksellers in the Whitgift Centre, on Wednesday.
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"The book's been really well received and I enjoyed writing it," said Lamb. "I've had an interesting life, travelled the world, I've been a very lucky man. People had been telling me for years that I should write a book and so I finally got round to doing it."
Before he embarked upon a successful acting career, Lamb's journey would take a number of excursions. Leaving the country at a young age he worked as an encyclopaedia salesman in Germany, and then in the oil business in Libya and Nova Scotia, until eventually the Edmonton man found himself starring on Broadway.
"I just wanted to get out of the country to be honest," he said. "I knew basic German and French so I thought why not – I can make my own life. It was sort of an escape story really. I've had a mixed and varied life experience, with some regrets that I've dealt with in the book.
"Everything in it was done purely from memory. My life has been mapped out by geography and jobs and the people I've lived with. These are things you record with care."
His book alludes to a troubled childhood filled with recollections of his parents continuous fighting and some particularly terrifying episodes. Larry, the eldest of three children, felt caught in the middle and on the wrong end of an anger-filled parent struggling with the enormous nature of fatherhood.
When in 2008 he landed the role of manipulative villain Archie, parent to Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell in EastEnders, Lamb said he based his portrayal on his own father.
"Being given the EastEnders part was a real gift. Even though it's not my kind of TV it was something I'd known about for many years," he said. "It was a fascinating role – too interesting to turn down."
Just before his soap breakthrough Lamb was also emerging as a recognisable face thanks to Gavin & Stacey, which became the most nominated show of the British Comedy Awards in its first year, 2007.
Fans of the show are persistently calling for a fourth series or even a Christmas special, but Lamb was content to remain tight-lipped on the issue.
He said: "There's nothing definite for the near future, but I'm busy with plenty at this point – doing presenting and other things in front of a camera, as well as stage productions like the Croydon panto."