From Corrie villain to detective novelist for Todd Boyce in Shaffer’s dark psychological thriller Sleuth at Grand Opera House

Todd Boyce in the role of detective novelist Andrew Wyke in Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth, on tour at the Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Jack Merriman

CORONATION Street villain Todd Boyce and ex-EastEnders soap star Neil McDermott team up in Sleuth, Anthony Shaffer’s “dark psychological thriller about thrillers”, at the Grand Opera House, York, from next Tuesday to Saturday.

Boyce’s character, wealthy, world-famous detective novelist Andrew Wyke, invites his wife’s lover and adversary (McDermott’s Milo Tindle) to his impressive English home for the deal of a lifetime.

Cue a jewellery heist, insurance fraud and the ultimate revenge as Milo finds himself unwittingly drawn into a tangled web of intrigue and cat-and-mouse gamesmanship, where nothing is quite as it seems.

Directed on tour by Rachel Kavanaugh, who was once at the helm of such plays as Hapgood, His Dark Materials and The Madness Of George III at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Sleuth is a disorientating study of human conflict, jealousy and manipulation that promises to “baffle even the most proficient sleuth”.

Set to make his debut Grand Opera House appearance next week, Todd Boyce says Sleuth has been drawing a “terrific response” since opening at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, on January 31.

Neil McDermott’s Milo Tindle, left, turning tables on Todd Boyce’s Andrew Wyke in Rachel Kavanaugh’s touring procuction of Sleuth. Picture: Jack Merriman

“It’s being really well received; we’ve had ovations with people standing up. We even overheard one chap say, ‘it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen at this theatre’. Neil took a bit of umbrage at that as he’d played there last year!”

Working with McDermott for the first time, Todd says: “We’ve got on really well through the rehearsals and now on stage, which is so important. It’s a play with humour in it and some shocking moments, and it becomes easier to play as you do it more and more, getting into the rhythm and musicality of the piece.

“Neil’s part requires quite a bit of physicality; he’s nearly 20 years younger than me [Todd is 62], so I’ve left that in his department, while I manage to hang on to the furniture!”

Todd is revelling in working with Rachel Kavanaugh. “She’s so bright, so intelligent, and what’s so reassuring for a play like Sleuth is her eye for clarity,” he says.

“She wanted it to be, not a dusted-off old piece, but really relevant to now. In terms of freshening it up, she wanted to make sure it was specific in its rhythm, with the phrasing being right in every line.”

Sleuth ran for 12 years in London and New York, winning the Tony Award for Best Play, and became the inspiration for the 1972 film starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.

At gun point: Todd Boyce’s Andrew Wyke makes his point to Neil McDermott’s Milo Tindle in Sleuth. Picture: Jack Merriman

Assessing its continuing appeal to audiences, Todd says: “The play is sophisticated, complex, and it turns darker than Wyke had bargained for, prompting Milo to seek retribution.

“Wyke is a guy with a lot of money and not a lot of empathy for those around him. The two-hour traffic on this stage changes from comfy to Wyke not knowing where he’s going in their interactions that turn everything on its head.”

Todd has his place in the record books for his role as bad guy Stephen Reid in Coronation Street, first in 1996-1997, next 2007 and latterly 2022-2023.

“I think I broke the record for the number of episodes in a one-year period, 193. That was extremely intensive,” he recalls. “Afterwards a lot of my colleagues said, go and have a break, but of course I did panto, didn’t I! Mother Goose at Derby Arena, a velodrome for cycling and concerts that switched into this amazing theatre within it.”

Who did Todd play? “Demon Vanity”. The baddie, of course!

Sleuth, Grand Opera House, York, February 26 to March 2, 7.30pm nightly; Wednesday and Saturday, 2.30pm matinees. Box office: