WHAT next for Berwick Kaler, once the dowager dame packs away his wig and boots?

For definite, his long association will continue with the launch of the Berwick Kaler Foundation. All funds raised will be used to ensure a “lasting legacy will continue to enable families, friends and communities to come together to share experiences and enjoy theatre in all its many forms”. In particular, fundraising events and initiatives across each year will raise money to support the theatre’s work with disadvantaged young people and to provide access to theatre for all.

"It's a nice thing to be happening and I just hope it will raise lots of money, not just for the upkeep of the building, but for working-class kids seeking to mzke their way in theatre too," says Berwick, who left Sunderland for London at the age of 15, working first as a painter and decorator, when a chance meeting with the actor Laurence Harvey while painting a producer’s house was the catalyst to pursuing an actor's life. 

Berwick had a double heart bypass operationin the summer of 2017 and came through the stresses and strains of last winter’s Jack And The Beanstalk, “really enjoying myself”, so despite announcing the grand departure for the grand dame at 72, it is hard to believe he will not return to the stage.

His acting skills have stretched long beyond the boundaries of pantomime to take in television dramas and comedies, from Catherine Cookson to Spender and The New Statesman, and stage plays such as Privates On Parade and Hobson’s Choice and myriad Shakespeare roles, from Bottom to Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

So, how about Berwick Kaler playing Archie Rice in John Osborne’s The Entertainer, Lear in King Lear or Sir in The Dresser? In the meantime, after 40 years as a dame, it is surely time for an honour from The Queen?

hey moved to London from Sunderland when Kaler was 15 and he became a painter and decorator.