Actor reveals he has rare skin cancer: 'Yes Minister' star refuses to let illness remove him from centre-stage. Ian MacKinnon reports

Ian Mackinnon
Tuesday 31 May 1994 23:02

THE ACTOR Paul Eddington yesterday revealed that he was suffering from a rare form of skin cancer after his face began to turn black and radiotherapy made some of his hair fall out.

But the actor, 66, best known for his television roles in the situation comedies Yes Minister and The Good Life, has decided to press on with his part in the stage play, Home, which is touring the provinces before beginning a run in the West End of London. Eddington's condition - mycosis fungoides, a rare form of cancer - is not life-threatening, but must be kept at bay with courses of ultra-violet treatment. Yesterday, as he prepared to take the stage at the Theatre Royal in Bath for another week-long run of David Storey's bittersweet comedy, he talked of his illness and showed off his bald pate.

Eddington, who plays the lead in the two-hour play about four elderly patients in a mental institution alongside his old companion from The Good Life, Richard Briers, said he has suffered from the condition since he 28.

But, he said: 'I'm fine. I have only made it public recently because while it has been a secret, it has got all out of proportion. The press have been making a big issue of it when it is not. I had some radiotherapy treatment recently and I started going bald. So I thought, 'why not get rid of all my hair?'

'I have to think about it because it has to be treated. I have thought of dying but I am not scared - and I am not expecting to die yet. I have skin cancer but I am not going to compete with Roy Castle.' Insisting that he felt great, Eddington said he was delighted to be back on stage alongside Briers, 20 years after they worked with Felicity Kendall and Penelope Keith in The Good Life, the Seventies television saga of suburban self- sufficiency. Clearly delighted with his latest success, he added: 'The play is going extremely well, breaking box office records. It's a gruelling schedule but I am feeling fine.

'I am avoiding sugar because of my diabetes and I don't want to be a professional invalid.'

Briers said yesterday: 'It is very nice to be back together again because we work so well together. It is a perfect play for us because you have to be over the hill to do it.'

(Photograph omitted)

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