There’s farce... and then there’s Ray Cooney, the king of farce and at the ‘Royal’ you are getting both with the celebrated Caught in the Net, writes Paul Thomas.

On top of that, you are getting a wonderful cast at Windsor’s Theatre Royal, headed by one of our top copper favourites and a stalwart of TV comedies and dramas, John Lyons, pictured above left, (DS George Toolan who played opposite David Jason in A Touch of Frost for nearly 18 years).

Caught in the Net is the sequel to Cooney’s masterpiece of a farce Run for Your Wife.

This time we find bigamist taxi-driver, John Smith, still keeping both his families – one in Wimbledon and one in Streatham – happy and blissfully unaware of each other However, his teenage children – one girl and one boy by each wife – have met on the internet and are determined to see each other in person, especially as it transpires that they have so much in common – same surname, taxi-driver dad of the same age, etc.

When it dawns on John that they are about to meet, he plunges into a hell-hole of his own making in order to keep them apart.

His saviour could be Stanley, his lodger.

Stanley is about to go on holiday with his decrepit old father, who turns up thinking he is already at the guest house.

The ever-spiralling situation gets increasingly out-of-hand as John busts a gut to juggle with the truth.

However, our duplicitous character Smith is about as far removed from the wonderful John Lyons as could be.

John has been happily married to wife Ann, who celebrates her birthday on the last day of the play, for over five decades – they were childhood sweethearts from the age of 15, and, being from Whitechapel, he proposed in the Blind Beggar on New Year’s Eve, home of the infamous Kray twins, around of the corner from whom he was born.

He tells me: “Last time I was at Windsor. last year for Father Brown, we pushed the boat out and stayed at the Harte and Garter, it was lovely.

“This year we are stying the last night at the Christopher Wren Hotel and are celebrating Ann’s birthday with friends.

“She comes to see me and has been my rock all the way through from drama school at E15 in 1961 to all my acting. I have been very lucky and she’s lived it with me. She has never wanted to be an actor herself, but she has let me live this life which has been fantastic.”

On Cooney’s farce, John who plays ‘Dad’ says: “It’s a sequel of course. Cooney is such a clever man, the way he puts plots and characters together. When they asked me to do it, I thought ‘this is good’ but it will take a great cast to do it, and we have one.

“There are eight of us and they are all great. This is the last of the shows on this tour. Caught in the Net started out at the Theatre Royal before moving on to the West End where Eric Sykes played the role in am in. Eric was such a wonderful, wonderful man, and I was lucky enough to act with him several times. I’m getting older now so it’s nice to be playing this as I don’t come on till the second half. I’ve had a glorious time and I’m lucky to be still acting at 74. I was very honoured to play opposite David Jason for so long and I got the job just by chatting to the producer. He just shook my hand and said ‘welcome to the Thames Valley Police’.

Caught in the Net, Theatre Royal Windsor, Thursday, April 26-Saturday 28. Box office: 01753 853888 or