James Nesbitt on Irish identity in 2018 and his plans to star in a musical
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James Nesbitt on Irish identity in 2018 and his plans to star in a musical

JAMES NESBITT opened up about his Northern Irish roots and plans to star in a musical next year during an emotional acceptance speech at the 2018 Irish Post Awards.

The Cold Feet and Lucky Man star picked up the Outstanding Contribution to Television & Film Award at the gala event in London.

Picking up the award on the night, the 53-year-old spoke of his plans to take a break from film and TV work to tread the boards once more in a new musical.

"I've taken a bit of time off for a while, which is not easy for a County Antrim Presbyterian actually. We know the value of a pound, where I come from," he joked.

"I'm doing a musical in March. A new musical called My Family," Nesbitt added.

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"I'm looking forward to it. It's [with] a great director called Daniel Evans. You just have to do these things sometimes. I've had a very lucky run."

The musical will run at Chichester Festival Theatre, one of the UK's flagship regional theatres and one with a reputation for outstanding musical theatre productions.

It's something of a return to his roots for Nesbitt, whose first professional stage appearance came in the musical Up on the Roof back in the late 1980s, which ran at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth before transferring to the London West End.

Speaking as he accepted the award at the Grosvenor House Hotel alongside host Eamon Holmes, Nesbitt also opened up about their shared experience of being Northern Irishmen in 2018.

"We came from a place at a time where identity was something people either fought over or hid behind," the actor explained.

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"Now it's just so thrilling that in the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, to be a man from the north who can say - when so much is being worried about identity over here - my identity is very simple: I am proud to be a Northern Irishman, I'm proud to be an Ulsterman, I'm proud to come from a Protestant culture but most of all I'm proud to be an Irishman."

Nesbitt will return to the television before his musical hits the stage, with a new series of his hit ITV comedy drama Cold Feet set to air in January 2019.