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It's too long since Ken was back on home stage


Old days: Eddie McIlwaine with Sir Ken Branagh

Old days: Eddie McIlwaine with Sir Ken Branagh

Old days: Eddie McIlwaine with Sir Ken Branagh

People here who express disappointment that Ken Branagh has lost his Belfast accent should remember that he left his native Belfast with his joiner father, William, and mother for a new life in Reading when he was only nine.

Reading folk loved him as his fame grew. I remember his mum, Frances, telling me the story of how she was looking at a portrait of him in the town hall when a passer-by commented on Ken's wonderful talent. "That's my son," she told the stranger with some pride.

However, I am sad that Sir Ken - as he is now - isn't seen in his home town as often as in his younger days.

I haven't spoken to the man since he was at the Lyric Theatre five years ago in the first performance of the hilarious comedy The Painkiller, which he and Rob Brydon are now taking on a national tour. I hope the tour includes a return to Belfast.

Branagh used to drop in regularly with his theatre company to see old friends and to talk to me. I haven't seen him for too long a time and that's a shame. Time he and I caught up and had a chat.

He used to tell me stories about the old films he used to watch on black and white telly after school, lying on the sofa in his Mountcollyer Road home (which has since been unthinkingly demolished) while Frances was out shopping.

Belfast Telegraph