Stamford actor James Bradshaw takes lead in new Mark Gatiss play and says farewell to Endeavour as ITV show airs final episode
A decade-long part in a primetime ITV drama series will draw to a close this weekend for Stamford-born actor James Bradshaw.
James will make his final small-screen appearance as pathologist Dr Max DeBryn on Sunday when the final episode of Endeavour airs.
He has been right at home in the show, a prequel to hit detective series Inspector Morse, which also has prominent Stamford links.
Its writer, Colin Dexter, was born in Scotgate, while Debryn’s character was partly based on a Stamford medic, Dr Du Bruyn.
“I did meet Colin a few times at the read-throughs and managed to have a chat to him about Stamford,” James said.
“The pathologist I played was based on two people, one of whom was a doctor from Stamford Hospital in the 1950s. My dad remembers him.”
James landed the role in 2011 for what was originally a one-off drama, but its popularity spawned several series, and he has chalked up more than 70 episodes.
“We have all got to know each other so well,” he said.
“I knew at the time that this felt special and it has been a really lovely experience.”
But for James, who got his acting break in 1990s ITV series The Grimleys, when one door closes, another opens.
He has returned to the stage after a 10-year hiatus to tackle a lead role in a new play directed by Mark Gatiss.
The Way Old Friends Do tells the story of two old school chums, bound by a love of Abba, who meet again 30 years later.
“It’s good to be back on stage - there's nothing like it," he said.
"You have to have that energy and buzz for every performance. You have to be on your toes."
He added: “I got the script about a week before (the audition) and thought ‘I would love to do this'.
“It’s about friendship, being a fan and having a devotion to something which everyone can identify with.
“There are lots of laughs in there and a few sequins as well. The characters are drawn really well."
James plays Edward, one of the two friends.
“Edward is quite flamboyant and one of those characters who hides a lot of insecurities behind a front," he explained. "He’s a great character to play."
The play, written by Mark’s husband Ian Hallard, opened at The Rep in Birmingham and headed on to Sheffield for a week before heading to London for a five-week run at the Park Theatre from March 17.
It then goes on tour until June.
Mark made his name in BBC’s dark comedy series The League of Gentlemen and has gone on to earn acclaim in the theatre as a writer and director.
“I had always wanted to work with him,” James said.
“He has a great sense of humour, is really encouraging and as a director has a real trust in you. It’s been such a great atmosphere and that’s down to Mark really because often a director sets the tone.”
James called Tinwell Road home until the family moved to Essendine; his parents now live back in Stamford.
After studying at Casterton Community College, he trained as an actor at the Birmingham Theatre School.
He has worked on a host of long-running popular TV shows, including Hollyoaks and Doctors, and would love to work on the longest-running show of all - Coronation Street.
“When people think of actors they often think of celebrity and all of the outside stuff, the parties," James said.
"Some people love that, but for me it’s always about the acting and the doing.”
James now calls Hammersmith home, in West London, but often returns to visit family and friends.
“The thing I love about Stamford is that even though I haven't lived there for a lot of years I can still walk up the high street and bump into someone I know.”