Falling

Falling from Grace - Sunday Mail; March 6, 2005; Steve Hendry

Foyle's War genteel star Michael turns into lusty gardener.

Foyle's War fans better look away now because Michael Kitchen is about to give them the fright of their lives.

The cultured actor, who has become an unlikely pin-up thanks to his portrayal of the well-mannered Second World War detective, plays an altogether more sinister character in one-off drama, Falling.

He stars as Henry Kent, a reclusive gardener who takes a fancy to an author and subtly intrudes into her life. He starts off doing odd jobs but ends up in her bed and taking over her life.

Henry's quiet seduction is fuelled by bawdy tales from his youth and is far removed from the genteel charm of Foyle, a fact of which the 56-year-old actor is only too well aware.

He joked: 'Apologies to anyone turning on expecting that nice Mr Foyle. It's probably goodbye to the fan base - I can't see either of them approving of this.'

Scripted by Andrew Davies, the writer who was responsible for the raunchy version of Moll Flanders, as well as Boudicca, Doctor Zhivago and costume dramas Daniel Deronda, The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right, Falling sees Henry directly address the audience with sardonic humour.

It puts viewers in the frame more than Daisy Langrish, the author whose purchase of a Yorkshire cottage as a bolthole from London brings her into contact with Henry.

Daisy is played by Penelope Wilton, star of Calendar Girls and last year's zombie film hit Shaun Of The Dead.

Penelope, who also stars opposite Scots star Brian Cox and Scarlett Johansson in Woody Allen's forthcoming British film Match Point, has complete sympathy for her character.

She said: 'Daisy is a successful woman but she's never had children and never had a successful relationship.

'There's a reason for that - she lives in her head quite a lot of the time and she's an open person. I've often found writers are not always particularly streetwise.

'Henry catches Daisy at quite a vulnerable time and think when people are vulnerable they are inclined to be so pleased when someone takes the initiative for them.

'To me he seems like a rather charming rogue who turns into a bit of a psychopath. She has no idea what he's really like. To her, he seems like a helpful, sweet, friend who becomes her lover.'

Falling is based on the novel of the same name by Elizabeth Jane Howard and was inspired by a real incident in her life when a male fan managed to work his way into her life. Neither of the stars read the book before filming.

Michael said: 'Andrew Davies' responsibility is to the novel and ours to his script which is why didn't read it - and I won't until the film has gone out.

' Later this spring, Penelope will be seen as MP Harriet Jones in two episodes of the new series of Doctor Who but the best news is for millions of Foyle's War fans who will be relieved to know Kitchen is filming a new series.