HOLLYWOOD film star Tom Hiddleston returned to the stage at the Bath Theatre Royal on Wednesday for a scene-stealing role for a BBC recording of The Play What I Wrote.

The Loki star appeared as the mystery guest performer on the opening night in Bath for the 20th anniversary production of the multi award-winning comedy masterpiece.

Penned by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's artistic director Sean Foley, Hamish McColl and Eddie Braben, TPWIW is produced in association with David Pugh and Theatre Royal Bath.

The anniversary revival tour opened in December 2021 and is an homage to Britain’s finest and funniest ever double-act, Morecambe and Wise - whose BBC Christmas specials were the highlight of the festive season for millions of viewers.

Starring Dennis Herdman and Thom Tuck as Eric and Ernie, the duo faithfully recreate Morecambe and Wise's characters, side-splitting wordplay and slapstick comedy, including joke bread loaves and botched magic tricks.

This new production also features Mitesh Soni, whose various cameo roles stole every scene in which he appeared. They included Hollywood actor Scarlett Johansson, TPWIW producer David Pugh, a giant dog, a musician suffering harmonica interrupts, and, at one point, several villagers.

Like the original Morecambe and Wise shows, there is a play within a play, and every show features a mystery guest star.

Hiddleston reprised an earlier appearance at the Birmingham Rep, and his surprise entrance on stage delighted the audience, who burst into spontaneous applause, and enlivened the second half of the production.

Thom has written a new play, an epic set in the French Revolution called ‘A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple’ and is desperate to get it on.

Dennis on the other hand, wants to continue with their double act. He believes that if they perform a tribute to Morecambe and Wise, Hamish’s confidence will be restored and the double act will go on. But first Dennis needs to persuade a guest star to appear in the play what Thom wrote...

TPWIW is directed by Foley, with design by Alice Power, lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Steve Parry, choreography by Ian West and casting by Sarah Bird.

Previous mystery guest stars have included Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Joanna Lumley, Daniel Radcliffe, Kylie Minogue, Nigel Havers, Jerry Hall, Sir Ian McKellen, Dawn French, Denise Welch, Glenn Close and Sting.

Tickets from the Theatre Royal Bath on 01225 448844 and online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk

John Baker