Sunday 21 December 2014

Men Behaving Badly? These days, it's more like 'Dad Behaving Mildly'

Deirdre Reynolds finds out the 'Oliver!' star has turned over a new leaf by drinking more Berocca than beer

Cult TV star Neil Morrissey is set to spend Christmas in Dublin treading the boards in Oliver! at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

But it's not the Guinness he's most looking forward to – it's midnight Mass.

"You know you're getting old when you start looking forward to midnight Mass," jokes Neil (50). "Both my parents are Irish, so growing up, it was a big family thing.

"I've got family coming over to Dublin for Christmas, so I'll probably drag them all out.

"It's a great theatrical event – and you don't even need to be sober to go!"

Incredibly, it's almost 20 years since Neil became a household name playing laddish Tony Smart on the iconic BBC sitcom Men Behaving Badly alongside Martin Clunes.

But he admits that people still mistake him for the character, who offered to shave his pubic hair for charity in one memorable episode.

"People still call me Tony," says Neil, who replaced Harry Enfield in the second season of the show.

"It did put us up there and it continues to be in the ether. I'm very proud of it.

"Now with the 20th anniversary box set out, there's a whole new generation watching it. When I saw the cover, I just thought, 'Who's that young fella?'"

Off screen, it was Neil's own bad behaviour that made headlines when his affair with Amanda Holden – which infamously led to her separation from husband Les Dennis – was exposed in 2000.

He also dated Hollywood sex symbol Rachel Weisz in the 1990s.

"I've learned my lessons that if you get embroiled in a relationship that is slightly clandestine and you're very popular on the television, it's going to come and bite you," says Neil, who divorced actress wife Amanda Noar in 1991 and is now in a long-term relationship with lawyer Emma Killick.

In the past, the actor revealed how he was taken into care aged just 10 after stealing sweets from a local shop.

"Both my parents came from slightly broken backgrounds, so it was kind of the cycle," recalls Neil.

"It's very easy to put the blame on people, (but) it was probably more to do with circumstances than any ill-intent.

Irish Independent

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