Marple actor Karl Davies on life after Emmerdale's Robert Sugden

PUBLISHED: 16:40 18 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:56 20 February 2013

Karl Davies takes time out from rehearsals for Henry V. Picture by Graham Michael

Karl Davies takes time out from rehearsals for Henry V. Picture by Graham Michael

Karl Davies is best known as Emmerdale tearaway Robert Sugden. But this Marple actor is about to tour the world dressed as a woman WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH

Karl Davies is used to playing controversial, high pressure roles. He spent four years playing the troubled Robert Sugden who had an affair with his brothers fiance, as well as several other women and tackled an enduring hatred for his sibling that caused no end of problems. His onscreen dalliances have meant hes had insults hurled at him in the street as well as a few slaps across the cheek.

But one of his recent roles could hardly be more challenging. Karl was one of a small group who performed a series of one-act plays about Afghanistan, based on the stories of soldiers and generals who had served, for top brass officials at The Pentagon in Washington.

He said: The play was about military occupation in Afghanistan over the last 200 years and we toured America doing it. But then a while later we got invited to do it at The Pentagon.

We werent told who the audience were. I dont think we were allowed to know. But its safe to say they were pretty important. There was a situation with President Mubarak in Egypt that was escalating and when this happened, several of them had to leave. It was an exciting play to do and it was an incredible experience.

Before Emmerdale, Karl had starred in several hit series including Fat Friends and Peak Practice, the latter alongside veteran television actor and Likely Lads star James Bolam. But the time since his days in the Yorkshire soap, including that performance at the US Department of Defence headquarters, prove that Karl, now 29, has done a lot of growing up.

He has appeared alongside legends like Stephen Fry and Peter Sallis and has just finished filming as Alton Lannister in the US blockbuster series Game of Thrones, based on the book series of the same name. He has also starred in some independent films.

It is possible most people wont know this because the actor isnt exactly one to scream and shout about his achievements. But it is this approach that has probably been key to his success. His steely determination to get experience in different kinds of roles means he is a force to be reckoned with.

He said: Emmerdale was a demanding job, its certainly not your typical acting job and I cant imagine Ill ever do anything that intense again. Id be learning 30 pages of dialogue a day.

But it gave me a good grounding and if you can deal with that than it can help when you go onto other jobs. It was all good fun though. My favourite memory is of when I got to kiss Sammy Winward and Patsy Kensit on the same day. A few of my friends were less than impressed with me, but youve got to take the perks of the job.

His achievements are even more startling considering he never intended to go into acting. Hed been a member of the Carver Theatre Group in Marple and taken part in school plays but his drama training wasnt done in a specialist school. It was just a hobby. But when he landed his first acting role he decided to make it a full-time profession. Rather than go to drama school, the former Marple High School pupil has been lucky enough to get on the job tutoring from some of the A-list actors hes worked with.

He said: Youd think it would be intimidating working with people like Stephen Fry but he was wonderful and just fantastic to be around. It was the same with Peter Sallis and James Bolam.

They were so welcoming and so helpful that I never felt intimidated. I just enjoyed every minute of it.

Karl is currently embarking on what is arguably his biggest role. This is not just because he will be learning two Shakespeare plays simultaneously, but he will spend the next six months playing to audiences around the world in A Winters Tale and Henry V. Thats no mean feat when you havent done Shakespeare before but in the latter, he will play the role of Lady Katherine. The shows will tour across the UK before going on an international tour around the world, as far as Australia and New Zealand.

He said: Its been great fun and its nice to have the opportunity. Men traditionally played female roles in times gone by but this isnt really the norm these days. It is a fantastic opportunity to play Lady Katherine.

Karl is looking forward to performing in front of a local crowd. He said: Its great that we come up here with the show. Its nice to be home and get a lot of looking after from my mum. Some of my mates will be able to see what I do.

I imagine therell be a bit of teasing when they see me as a woman but I can take it.

The dream for me now is just to keep working. No matter what it is or where it is, I just want to keep plugging away and making a living. I love all the big US shows but jobs like that are hard to come by. But hopefully Ill get to do more of that. Im just having the time of my life and I couldnt ask for anything more.

Karl will appear in Henry V from February 8th 11th at The Lowry, Salford Quays. For more information visit

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