Port Talbot is famed for its steel industry and striking skyline, which frequently looked stunning. Yet, remarkably, it has also produced the greatest Welsh actors of all time: Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Sheen. There must be something in the River Afan. Local boy Rob Brydon must be annoyed he didn’t get mentioned in this illustrious company.
They drove across the Brecon Beacons to Hay-on-Wye, the magical town of books which young Sheen saw as an escape. Face masks on, they browsed the famed Booth’s Bookshop. En route, they took a teasing phone call from Sheen’s close friend David Tennant, his sparring partner in Good Omens and Staged.
Sheen grew visibly emotional recalling his extraordinary 2011 performance in The Passion of Port Talbot – a 72-hour production on the streets of the town, watched by thousands of locals after word-of-mouth spread. They retraced the steps of his procession and visited the seafront location of his crucifixion.
“While I was up on the cross, I was so tempted to go ‘I can see my house from here’,” joked Sheen but he was palpably proud of the epic play. “I will never do anything as meaningful again,” he said. “That will be the greatest thing I ever do.”
“Well done,” replied Saunders, like a faintly embarrassed aunt.