The Many Roles of Alun Armstrong

A fan's guide to the 226+ roles played by Alun Armstrong, including descriptions, images, availability, ratings & reviews.

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Alun Armstrong in Exit the King at Bath's Theatre Royal

Alun Armstrong stars in Exit The King by Eugene Ionesco at the Ustinov Studio of the Theatre Royal Bath from Thursday 20th November to Saturday 20th December. The play follows the last day in the life of the great King Berenger, now 400 years old, once the ruler of millions of subjects, but now on his last legs. Exit The King is directed by Laurence Boswell, and is the third in a series of three black comedies which make up this autumn's Ustinov Studio season.

Tickets are now on sale. See the Theatre Royal Bath website for details.


"A fine return to stage after eight years from Alun Armstrong." - Dominic Maxwell, The Times

"Armstrong is extraordinary. He hops, skips, jumps, dances, limps, pulls faces, wears pyjamas, complains of lumbago. He is more fool than king. His elocution is comically overdone, as if addressing the hard of hearing or mentally defective... It is Armstrong’s great achievement to sneak in real feeling, panic, despair and terror, to these unreal proceedings." - Kate Kellaway, The Guardian

"Bounding on stage like a child who has found himself king, an image helped by his oversized crown resembling a Burger King crown, Alun Armstrong crafts a performance as the desperate King, that demands these rare stage performances, should become much more frequent. He is blessed with a character actor's face that expresses multitudes and demands to be watched; it can be used to terrifying effect, when he turns petty we can see the dictatorship one feels the kingdom must have fallen into, but also pathetic, childish and as his light fades ultimately touching." - Kris Hallett, What's On Stage

Armstrong discussed the role of Berenger - as well as other roles - in an interview with Rebecca McWattie for The Pass.

"The king is going to die and personifies Ionesco's view of how little real communication there is between people. Ionesco himself was obsessed with death from a young age and Berenger, the king, is a naive character who doesn't really understand himself or other people and can't face death with any kind of realism or acceptance. It's a very difficult play, as it's very bleak and wordy - the challenge is to make it believable emotionally whilst spouting this rather intense prose. It's very funny as well - as there is something essentially absurd about life and death, it seems in our minds ridiculous that it's going to come to an end." - Read the full interview at The Pass


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Alun Armstrong Exit the King


Alun Armstrong guest stars in Downton Abbey Christmas special

Alun Armstrong Downton Abbey

Alun Armstrong will appear in the special episode of Downton Abbey airing on Christmas Day 2014 on ITV. The Series 5 Christmas special will also air in the U.S. on PBS sometime in 2015. According to The Journal: "He plays the butler of the family who host the Crawleys on a grouse shoot and manages to irritate their servants. He says of his character: 'He's very pernickity and particular and he gives them a hard time so they want to get their own back and gang up on me!'"

A new interview in the Daily Mail gives more details:

... he plays a snooty butler (even snootier than Carson, apparently) at the home of some cousins of the Crawleys where the family has decamped for a shooting party. 'I've never really watched the show,' admits Alun in a whisper.

'So I would take people aside and ask, "Can you remind me who she’s married to?" It was a funny couple of weeks; my character is fruity and ridiculous. We were filming at Alnwick Castle which was remarkable; it was the first time anyone had been allowed to film inside.

'Even for Harry Potter [the castle’s exteriors were used for Hogwarts] it was only ever filmed from the outside. The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, whose home it is, said, "Make yourselves right at home."

'It was nice to be back working with Michelle Dockery [Lady Mary] as she played my daughter-in-law in The Hollow Crown. I was the Duke of Northumberland – an ancestor of the one whose home we were in – and my son Joe played my son and her husband. It felt like we’d gone full circle.' - Read the full interview at the Daily Mail


Two new Radio 4 dramas in January

Alun Armstrong lends his voice to a day-long dramatisation of War and Peace on New Year's Day and a two-part radio play called The Ferryhill Philosophers on BBC Radio 4.

On 1 January, War and Peace begins at 9:00am and runs all day until 9:30pm, with breaks for the news and The Archers. The adaptation of Tolstoy's novel is written by Timberlake Wertenbaker and also stars John Hurt, Simon Russell Beale and Lesley Manville.

On 6 & 7 January, The Ferryhill Philosophers is the Afternoon Drama at 2:15pm. Alun Armstrong stars with Deborah Findlay in this drama by Michael Chaplin about an unlikely duo - an ex-miner and a senior philosophy lecturer - who wrestle with the collision between moral philosophy and the sundry dilemmas of a small village by the Wear.

BBC Radio 4 productions are available to listen to online after the broadcast. Follow the links for War and Peace and the Afternoon Drama.