For a play that’s being running for more than 67 years, I’m constantly surprised there are people who still haven’t seen Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.

“I haven’t seen it,” confess Gwyneth Strong, “or read it.”

And I should probably point out now this interview took place well before Christmas and well before Gwyneth started rehearsing for the part of Mrs Boyle in the Christie classic.

“When the opportunity came up, it was something a little left field,” she continues. “With all of that history, the people who have been in it, I just couldn’t say no really.

“The other good reason for doing it is I’ve never done an Agatha Christie. I really like doing contrasting things and this was very different to a lot of the work I’ve done most recently.”

Following a record-breaking 60th anniversary debut tour in 2012, this timeless thriller returns by popular demand, opening at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre last month, launching an extensive new tour that will travel the length and breadth of the country giving audiences all across the UK the opportunity to discover theatre’s best kept secret.


Following Guildford, The Mousetrap will tour the country, appearing at Sunderland Empire, Darlington Hippodrome and York Grand Opera House but next week it will be staged at the Colchester’s Mercury for a week.

Gwyneth will perform as Mrs Boyle for 24 weeks through to Norwich, alongside David Alcock (Mr Paravacini), Geoff Arnold (Detective Sgt. Trotter), Nick Biadon (Giles Ralston), Lewis Chandler (Christopher Wren), John Griffiths (Major Metcalf), Harriett Hare (Mollie Ralston) and Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen (Miss Caswell).

“I’m doing the first leg,” Gwyneth tells me, “which is about five months long but there’s quite a few venues close to my London base so it’s easily commutable from home.

“I don’t mind touring at all. I remember doing a tour of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters around India, which as you can imagine was an incredible experience, and as this is a proper period piece, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Theatre has played a huge part in Gwyneth’s life ever since she appeared at the Royal Court in London at the age of 11.

Whilst still a pupil at Holland Park School, she appeared in the horror film Nothing But the Night as Mary Valley, and then she was a regular in the children’s TV series The Flockton Flyer between 1977 and 1979, as Jan Carter.

She adds: “Back then I was just a child that liked showing off but it all started from there and I’ve been very fortunate to have had the career that I have had.”

Especially picking up the role of Cassandra in possibly one of the country’s most famous and beloved television series of all time, Only Fools and Horses.


The role gained Gwyneth mainstream recognition and she appeared in the hit comedy show as well as several Christmas specials between 1989 and 2003. More recently, she joined the cast of EastEnders in the role of Geraldine Clough, while other television credits have included The Great Train Robbery, Silent Witness, Casualty, Doctors and Murder in Suburbia. Gwyneth also appeared in the UK tour of Our House, in which she played Kath Casey.

“When I was first starting out,” Gwyneth says, “it wasn’t about celebrity at all, it was just having a job. But when you get to appear in something like that it does suddenly propel you into that world, which was quite hard when the children were younger.

“Both of us (Gwyneth’s married to fellow actor Jesse Birdsall) were in high profile shows so going out for dinner was problematic.

“That’s the downside of all that but there are so many wonderful things as well to being in something like Only Fools.

“Tessa Peake-Jones (who played Del’s wife Raquel) and I are great friends and I remember going on Loose Women with her and they played all these old clips, which was a rather lovely thing.”

Directed by Gareth Armstrong, the unstoppable West End hit has been delighting theatregoers with its macabre murder mystery since 1952.

Back then it was first seen in Nottingham starring Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim, but it soon went on to become the world’s longest running stage production following its West End transfer to The Ambassadors in 1952 and St Martins in 1973 where it has played ever since, continuing a record-breaking run with over 27,500 performances in London so far.

The Mousetrap runs at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, from Monday until Saturday, February 18 to 23, at 7.30pm each night with matinees at 2.30pm on the Thursday and Saturday.

For tickets, priced from £31 to £15 plus discounts, call the box office on 01206 573948.