Writer Eric Chappell launches his new play in Stamford

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WRITER Eric Chappell, famous for ’70s and ’80s TV sitcoms such as Rising Damp and Only When I Laugh, is at Stamford Corn Exchange Theatre next week for the launch of a new play.

His comedy Passing Strangers will be performed by Outloud Productions on Thursday.

Eric, now in his ’70s, lives in Barrowby near Grantham and still writes every day. He once applied for a job as a reporter on the Rutland and Stamford Mercury but was turned down and went on to work for the East Midlands Electricity Board for many years while secretly writing.

He has had numerous plays performed on the West End stage and published around the world but it is for shows such as Duty Free and Home To Roost that he is best known. Always very involved with the TV productions, he got to know stars such as Leonard Rossiter, Tom Conti, Francis de la Tour, Peter Bowles and James Bolam well, his favourite being the late John Thaw.

His wife Muriel, who used to work for Oxfam and fought hard to get it to open a charity shop in Stamford, is his sternest critic. The couple have two children and four grandchildren.

Both are big supporters of the theatre and always buy their own tickets. He is also patron of the Robin Hood Theatre at Newark, the Lane Theatre in Newquay and of the St Peter’s Hill Players in Grantham, his home town.

He loves working in the theatre.

“I have had audiences of 16 million on television that have led to just two phone calls but there is much more of a buzz from the theatre, I love it,” he said.