Actor Karl Howman talks of starring role in The Mousetrap

Karl Howman
Karl Howman

For actor Karl Howman, it seems fitting that he is set to appear in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which is due to be performed at Milton Keynes Theatre from tomorrow.

“It’s the 60th anniversary,” said the former star of TV comedy, Brush Strokes. “And next birthday, I’ll be 60 too.”

The Mousetrap is famous around the world as being the longest-running show in the history of British theatre and this year, to mark its special anniversary, it will be going on tour for the first time.

Karl said: “Everyone I have known has said if they haven’t seen The Mousetrap, they know someone who has seen it.”

The Mousetrap is a murder mystery in much-loved Christie style. A group of people are gathered in a country house cut off by snow, only to discover that a murderer is in their midst.

But what has been the secret to the play’s longevity?

Karl said: “Agatha Christie has a huge following and her characters have always been on TV. People know her format and it is something people feel comfortable with. You know what you are going to get, roughly, with an Agatha Christie.”

But The Mousetrap has always remained special, according to Karl.

“No one has seen it on tour so when you are taking something exclusive it makes it special. I would have been silly to turn down a chance to appear in something as iconic as this. I don’t feel as old as the play, but I am.”

Karl has also become a familiar figure in British entertainment.

More than 20 years after the programme was made, he is still perhaps best known for appearing as Jacko in Brush Strokes, playing a cheeky chappy house painter with an eye for the ladies.

And he doesn’t get tired of looking back at that time, which absorbed nearly a decade of his life.

He said: “If people look at something fondly it is nice. I played that character for nine years and it was quite an achievement.”

Since that time he has appeared in front of the camera many times, including appearances in TV comedies A Fine Romance and Babes in the Wood, but he has also been developing his skills behind the camera.

He recently co-wrote and directed the film, Fathers of Girls, starring Ray Winstone and Karl’s real-life daughter, the actress, Chloe Howman.

Karl said: “I wanted to work with my daughter and Chloe is in the film as well as Ray’s daughter, Lois.”

He continued: “Chloe wanted to be an actress and my other daughter, Katy-Jo, is also a dancer and actress. I have produced plays for Chloe and one for Katy at The King’s Head and I supported them once I saw they wanted to do that.

“Even my youngest granddaughter has been appearing at the Opera House in London and I would love to have seen it. She is only 12.”

The Mousetrap will run at Milton Keynes Theatre from September 24 until 29.

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