THE story of actor David Tomlinson is brought to life in a new stage production heading to Salisbury Playhouse this month.

Stand-up comedian and actor Miles Jupp takes on the role of Tomlinson, who is best remembered for his role as Mr Bands in Disney’s classic Mary Poppins.

The Life I lead, which has been written by James Kettle, is in the Main House from tomorrow (Thursday, March 14) until Sunday (March 16).

James says: “It’s about the life of David Tomlinson who, amongst other things, played two roles that have gone down in the history of family cinema; Mr Banks in Mary Poppins and Professor Browne in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”

Miles adds: “He appeared to be a family man specialising in high-end buffoonery, but he actually had a much more complex life.”

On his inspiration for writing the play James says: “I wrote the play for Miles - while I was watching Mary Poppins it struck me that there were some vocal and physical similarities between Tomlinson and him. I obviously knew of Tomlinson as a celebrated actor, but I knew very little about him as a man.

“When I looked into it, I discovered two extraordinary father/son relationships; the relationship with his father, who had two separate households – one in London and the other in Folkestone – and the relationship with his son Willy, who was one of the first children in the UK to be diagnosed with autism.”

He adds: “I really wanted to show Tomlinson the actor portraying all of the different characters in his life, and I had immense confidence that Miles would be able to carry that off brilliantly. He’s the kind of performer, like Tomlinson, who can make you laugh but also move you.”

Miles admits: “I’m excited and intimidated by this script. I get to do things I haven’t done as an actor. Although it has a lot of funny and light moments, there are aspects that are heavier than anything I’ve been tasked with conveying before.”

“For me, it’s one of the greatest delights to tour to places all over the United Kingdom. I love the feeling of going somewhere, putting on a show and people being there.” he continues. “And I love turning up to theatres. I really do. I sometimes think the best view of the theatre is the view from the stage, looking out… I hope that won’t be the case for this audience, of course. I hope it will be a tremendous joy for people facing the opposite way to me.”

On what audiences can expect, James says: “I would like them to feel fascinated by the true story of an icon of our childhoods and recognise things that are true about fathers and sons, and I would like them to laugh and enjoy the comic side of the show, because while it has moments of darkness it is ultimately a life-affirming story.”

Miles adds: “I hope they’ll be entertained, moved and made to think. And I want people to come away thinking ‘I would never have thought he had a life like that.”

For tickets go to or call 01722320333.