Belfast Telegraph

New Tricks bike in charity auction

TV star Alun Armstrong is selling the "world's most iconic bicycle" - pedalled on by his New Tricks alter-ego Brian Lane.

The actor, 68, who starred in the popular crime drama for 10 years, was presented with the bike by cast and crew when he quit in 2013.

Armstrong, who has kept the prized possession in the hallway of his home, is now putting it under the hammer to raise money for the MS Society.

New Tricks was recently axed by the BBC following dwindling ratings.

But for 10 series of the crime drama, viewers saw Armstrong's eccentric character ride his bicycle as he and his colleagues in the Met's Unsolved Crime and Open Case squad solved cold cases.

"Brian couldn't drive, so he would either catch lifts from the other cops or travel by bicycle. He had this bicycle throughout the show. I used the same bike throughout the series," the actor said.

"It's been a good friend to me for 10 or 11 years. I've kept it in my house, in my hallway."

Armstrong's sister is a sufferer from MS (multiple sclerosis), a neurological condition which affects about 100,000 people in the UK.

"I want to raise money for the MS Society....It's a bit of a Cinderella charity," he said. "But it often affects young adults, so comes at a prime working and family-raising time.

"There's no known cause or cure, and so funds are desperately needed for sufferers and their families".

Armstrong said of the bike: "I've got it serviced but I haven't used it. I think it's probably the world's most iconic bicycle because the series has been incredibly popular in over 25 countries worldwide.

"I can't think of another bike that has been seen more often on telly, around the world."

The actor, who starred alongside Dennis Waterman, James Bolam and Amanda Redman in the crime series, said that passers-by joke about the bike "all the time".

"When I'm riding my own bike I get 'Where's your proper bike?' or if I'm walking 'Where's your bike?'," he said.

"It's even happened around the world. It's remarkable. In Laos, somebody, who was from Peru, said 'Why did you not bring your bike with you?'"

The BBC has now called time on the show, with the 12th series, starring Larry Lamb, Tamzin Outhwaite, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Denis Lawson, set to be its last.

Armstrong said of the axing: "Our characters were so strong that it was very difficult to follow that up with equally strong characters, b ut all these thing have a shelf life. It's difficult to keep these stories going."

He said of his fellow former New Tricks stars: "We still meet up and see each other. Those were some fantastic years. We were a great gang."

Armstrong recently guest-starred as a butler in Downton Abbey and said that he would love to return to the ITV period drama - especially now that he has watched it.

"It was great fun. I watch it now so I know them all. It was difficult working out who they all were as I hadn't really seen it," he admitted.

"When I came to film it I didn't know who the characters were. I couldn't work out who was married to who. I was having to serve 30 people at a dinner and I'd keep saying, 'Are you married to him?' They'd say, 'No, I'm married to that one.'"

:: Armstrong is auctioning the bicycle at Ewbank's Auctions in Woking, Surrey on June 26.

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