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Bramley actor takes on ‘old big head’ Cloughie in revival of The Damned United

He’s arguably the most successful, almost certainly the most outspoken, English manager of his generation.

And Brian Clough‘s dramatic 44-day spell in charge of Leeds United in 1974 is undoubtedly one of the most controversial periods in the Elland Road club’s long history.

For Bramley actor Luke Dickson, the role as the enfant terrible of English football is a dream job he’s performed before with Leeds-based Red Ladder Theatre Company – and one he’s happy to re-visit as theatres start to re-open after lockdown. He said:

“We’d been planning to but successive lockdowns kiboshed the idea. I’ll be genuinely interested to see how audiences take to coming back to theatres following lockdown and with social distancing still in place. I know People have been desperate to get back. Will it be the same experience?

“And, of course, Leeds United are now a Premier League side, so the timing is nice.

“Playing Brian Clough is an easy one for me as I’ve performed the role before. It’s obviously quite a role to get your teeth into.”

The Damned United is running at the Leeds Playhouse on June 10 and 11 and a couple of shows have almost sold out, showing the demand to return to theatres is definitely there.

Luke, 45, who lives on Landseer Grove, has previously appeared in hit TV series Cold Feet, but is clearly relishing his change to return to the iconic role of ‘old big head’ hemself – Brian Clough.

Originally co-produced with the Leeds Playhouse, The Damned United takes you inside the tortured mind of a genius slamming up against his limits, and brings to life the beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet.

“I enjoy taking on roles where you can get inside someone’s mind and really get to understand what makes someone tick, ” said Luke. “What made Brian Clough such a contentious, cantankerous and sometimes quite rude man?

“That’s something I hope we get a glimpse of in my interpretation of him.

“He was such a driven man. He had to win and win better than previous Leeds manager Don Revie who, according to Clough, only won because of his ‘dirty tricks’. Clough always felt he could do it better.”

Luke has also been co-creative director for Alive and Kicking Theatre Company since 2010. The company has been running for 30 years and is dedicated to making drama which impacts on primary age children both within the curriculum and beyond. 

When West Leeds Dispatch last caught up with Luke it was December 2019 he was about to give children who might not normally go the theatre the chance to experience festive fun at Leeds Kirkgate Market.

This went ahead, but less than three months later the country went into lockdown. That didn’t stop Alive and Kicking – and they still managed to deliver performances via Zoom during lockdown.

Following its performances at Leeds Playhouse next week, Red Ladder’s The Damned United also runs at York, Sale, Durham and Mansfield. Tickets can be bought here.


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