AL Murray and Mel Giedroyc have just come off stage following a matinee performance of The Crown Jewels, a riotous re-writing of history which has been delighting audiences in London’s West End for the past eight weeks.

Al has made a lightning quick change from royal robes of state and outrageous wig as Charles II into his civvies.

“It’s Brian May’s hair” said the major Queen fan. And his comedy partner in crime in the show is equally relaxed, leaving all traces of the royal court behind them.

Lancashire Telegraph: Al Murray in The Crown Jewels
(Picture: Hugo Glendinning)

Once the West End run concludes, The Crown Jewels will be heading straight to The Lowry and the start of a UK tour bringing with a veritable all-star cast of comedy performers.

For alongside Al Murray and Mel Giedroyc, the show also features Neil Morrissey, Joe Thomas from The Inbetweeners, Aidan McArdle and Carrie Hope Fletcher.

“What I really love about this is that the cast is so strong and everyone brings their own way of doing it,” said Al, best known for his comic creation the Pub Landlord. “As a result there is a load of comedy going on at once. You’ve got all these funny types all working together. It’s great fun.”

Fun is a word which crops up a lot as Al and Mel talk about the show.

Written by Simon Nye, responsible for Men Behaving Badly and directed by Sean Foley who was responsible for Upstart Crow, The Crown Jewels is very loosely based on a genuine historical event.

Lancashire Telegraph: Mel Giedroyc in The Crown Jewels 
                                                      (Picture: Hugo Glendinning)

Renegade Irishman Colonel Blood plans to steal the crown jewels from the Tower as King Charles II is preparing to celebrate his anniversary on the throne.

Both Al and Mel have dual roles and on stage you sense that a comedy partnership is born either as the keeper of the Tower and his wife or as the monarch and a visiting French noblewoman. They also get the chance to work with the audience with Charles II addressing his subjects directly and Mel’s French countess flirting outrageously with the front rows.

“To pull this off you need to be very front footed and quite bold,” said Mel, former presenter of TV’s Bake Off. “Our lovely director Sean instilled in us from day one that this type of comedy has got to be fast. There is no time to hang about. You have got to keep it rolling. That’s quite a skill really.”

The result is a rollicking two hours which at times borders on the pantomime and at others veers towards farce - something audiences have been lapping up.

“It is an improbable subject to have made something that’s such fun,” said Al.

“Talking to audiences after the show, it’s clear that there is a real desire for people to just escape for two hours,” said Mel. “Word of mouth has played such an important part in carrying this show - we’ve been playing to full houses every night at at the matinees.

“As a performer it’s a rare thing to have been given something and be told to have fun with it; it’s a joy.”

“Simon Nye has written a play for us which we can bend but which won’t break which is really clever,” said Al. “We spent the rehearsal process trying to get on top of the lines as quickly as possible so that we could change them all. A lot of what you see on stage now came about through playing with the script and seeing how people reacted to it.”

As a result, no performance of The Crown Jewels is ever quite the same - guaranteed by Al’s forays into the audience.

Lancashire Telegraph: Cast of The Crown Jewls (Picture: Hugo Glendinning)

“Al is just brilliant at that,” said Mel, “He’s not mean to people; they are included in the fun. After he’s gone out and chatted to the audience they are totally on side, they are warm and receptive. We’re very lucky to have Al in the cast.”

“One thing that stand-up has and Restoration comedies also have is that there is no fourth wall,” said Al. “We’re not trying to pretend that the audience is not there. We’re not trying to pretend we’re acting in a fish tank.

“When I go to the theatre I do find that difficult. I’m sort of ‘come on I’m over here. How can you possibly ignore us?’. So I really love having the freedom to break out and involve the audience.”

Although Al is able to lean heavily on his stand-up experience, he’s revelling in being part of an ensemble.

“It’s an interesting contrast to what I normally do which is a couple of hours of stand-up basically on my own,” he said. “Being in a company is a very different experience for me and one I’m really enjoying because you are sharing the experience. With stand-up you do your thing, get off stage and go back to your hotel so it’s also nice to have a much more convivial experience.”

Both Al and Mel are no strangers to The Lowry and are eager to bring The Crown Jewels to the venue.

“Oh, I love The Lowry,” said Mel. “I know that Manchester audiences are really going to love this show.”

For history buff Al it will also give him a chance to visit the nearby Imperial War Museum,

“They’ve got some nice tanks in there,” he said, “there’s a lovely Matilda 2 on display I seem to remember.”

The Crown Jewels, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Tuesday, September 19 to Saturday, September 23. Details from