Richard Wilson forced to drop out of Frinton Summer Theatre event after heart attack

Richard Wilson at Frinton Summer Theatre. Picture: Dave Carter

Richard Wilson at Frinton Summer Theatre. Picture: Dave Carter - Credit: Archant

Top TV star Richard Wilson has been forced to pull out of the Frinton Summer Theatre’s Gala Night tomorrow after suffering a heart attack.

The 80-year-old actor, best known for his role as Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave, became patron of the Friends of Frinton Summer Theatre group in 2014.

His promoters announced the news today, and said the star had decided to pull out of both his Essex appearance and his Edinburgh Fringe Show – during which he was to reprise the grumpy character – to recuperate.

They added the actor apologised to those who had bought tickets.

Mr Wilson is understood to be in a stable condition in a London hospital following his cardiac arrest on Wednesday.

Richard Wilson. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

Richard Wilson. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Tickets for the Frinton Summer Theatre’s gala night, raising funds for The Lynda Bellingham Frinton Summer Theatre Debut Fund, The Friends of Frinton Theatre, and The McGrigor Hall, cost £30 each and will be refunded.

Organisers said the show, part of the 77th season of the theatre, had been cancelled because it “did not seem right” to go ahead, and wished the actor a speedy recovery.

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A spokesman for the Friends of Frinton Summer Theatre said: “We hope for a speedy recovery and a return to see us very soon.

“He is much admired and loved by us all.”

Mr Wilson starred in The Dog during the theatre’s 75th anniversary season in 2014.

Giles Watling, a Frinton councillor and Bread actor whose late father Jack stepped in to run Frinton Summer Theatre in 1974 when the previous team stood down, said he was saddened by the news.

Mr Watling said: “It is sad Richard has had to pull out, but of course he has to.

“I am glad that it looks like he will make a recovery, and we wish him all the best.

“What Edward Max [manager] and Clive Brill [artistic director] are doing to continue on the legacy of summer theatre is fantastic, and it’s absolutely stunning they have been able to get Richard down.

“I was in The Importance of Being Earnest in the 75th year and it was wonderful to be part of that season.”

Mr Wilson played Meldrew between 1990 and 2000, winning Best Light Entertainment Performance at the TV Baftas in 1992 and 1994.

Born in Greenock, the actor is a familiar face on stage and screen, also appearing in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Doctor Who and, more recently, BBC fantasy drama Merlin.

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