YOU may remember him best as Dr Adam Forsythe, the murderous charmer who tried to kill his wife in Emmerdale.
Now, however, Richard Shelton is conquering the world with his latest Frank Sinatra show – and if anyone was born to play Ol’ Blue Eyes, it’s him.
As a baby, he looked uncannily like Sinatra did, he is the same size, even wears the tuxedo Sinatra wore and a series of spooky coincidences have seen him meet people who knew the great man.
He has even met Sinatra’s family and been in his house.
So it should come as no surprise that experts on both sides of the Atlantic reckon being at his show is like having Sinatra back in the same room again, although Richard is keen to capture an element of Sinatra that not everybody focuses on – his anger.
“That’s what I go for, that is where I focus,” admits Richard, who has also starred in EastEnders, Family Affairs and movie hit My Week With Marilyn.
“It’s what is interesting to me, the underbelly of the man, what’s going on behind the blue eyes. He was mercurial, his moods could change.
“When I did Rat Pack Confidential, we had to study hours and hours of his body language.
“I found a moment in one video where he was performing with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Johnny Carson on a TV show and had to move a microphone.
“There were cameras in front and behind and there was a moment where they were joking around onstage and things just went too far for Sinatra.
“The camera caught him from behind, so in other words the audience didn’t see this – but the look on his face was like a warning shot. Dean Martin melted away and then Sammy Davis Jr melted away.
“They knew not to go any further, it happened in not even seconds and by the time he turned back again things were fine.
“I thought: ‘I’ve got you, that’s what I want, that steady look in those eyes that can turn cold.’
“He could fly off the handle, he could be brutal and very, very hot-headed. Seemingly, those moods could vanish immediately too and he’d be very charming again.
“By our modern standards, you could argue he was an alcoholic. I don’t know if he was or he wasn’t, but he certainly liked to drink heavily and I think that affected his moods.
“He was a dangerous character, not one to be crossed. My show is called Sinatra: RAW because I am going inside him and exposing his state of mind and fragility at that stage of his life. Remember this is a theatre piece, a play.”
Richard will also intersperse the whole thing with incredible renditions of some Frank classics – he admits to loving the dark, heartbreaking Sinatra more than the upbeat, happy Sinatra – and his shows get rave reviews everywhere.
As he reveals, when you get people who actually rubbed shoulders with Sinatra telling you that you’re convincing, it can give you quite a boost.
“I’ve just done this show in Palm Springs and there you obviously have people in the audience who actually knew him,” he admits.
“You have to try and put that out of your mind.
“But a woman said to me: ‘I don’t know what just happened, but one second you are Richard and the next you are Frank Sinatra. You just are him.’
“I think that is because what I do is coming from the inside, trying to reach for that honesty, rather than just trying to impersonate him. It’s a very different experience.
“The best way to put it is that I let go of myself and he replaces whatever I am doing at that moment.”
Richard has previously enjoyed major success with Sinatra-based shows, but this one is very different and, as the name suggests, a bit raw.
It is set in Palm Springs in 1971, with Sinatra facing retirement, a lifetime of booze, cigarettes and memories etched on his face.
Then things take an unexpected turn and we see the dangerous, angry side of Ol’ Blue Eyes.
“I don’t care so much for the early Sinatra,” Richard admits. “From the fifties onwards, though, the records are just purely and utterly magical.
“When I did a record a couple of years ago, I was in Capitol Records and they still had the master tapes of the sessions for Come Fly With Me.
“I went into the vault and saw them in a box there. To touch them was just mindblowing.
“I also got to use the microphone that Frank always used. It’s a big ask, but you have try and not let it bother you. If you stood there and thought about it, that’d be the very worst thing you could do.
“Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett and Michael Buble all like to use it, too. It sits in a box and on the front of it on tickertape and in black felt pen it just says, ‘Frank’s’.
“I did think, just imagine if you could scrape the DNA off of this microphone, what kind of monster you could create.”
Whatever monster they came up with, it’s unlikely it could match the monstrous success of Sinatra, because there have been precious few stars who could entice fans from every decade right through to the present day.
However, Frank does just that, as Richard points out.
“The appeal of Sinatra is right across the board, he interests every age range, young and old.
“It’s the strangest thing, but there is no demographic with Sinatra. He appeals to absolutely everybody.
“Obviously, people in their fifties and sixties remember him and he may have been prevalent in their lives.
“I had a guy in the audience the other night, with a lot of piercings and tattoos and I looked over at him and thought: ‘Crikey, I don’t think this is going to be your cup of tea.’ But he was loving it, this guy.”
Even many Sinatra fanatics, yours truly included, had no idea of the English influence on our hero – as Richard points out, Sinatra’s world-weary style came from a lady born in Burton upon Trent.
“He learned all that from a black English chanteuse, a singer by the name of Mabel Mercer,” he reveals. “She’s not very well-known, but she virtually spoke the lyrics.
“Frank credited her as one of his main inspirations.”
Just as The Beatles, Elvis and Bowie look certain to endure as much as Beethoven or Mozart, Richard is positive Ol’ Blue Eyes will also remain right up there in centuries to come.
“There’ll always be an appeal for that sort of glamour, because everything seemed so elegant then,” he points out.
“It was all beautiful and aspirational, life in those days.
“It’s indelible, isn’t it, those movies and albums from his time? I wasn’t around in the fifties, but I think there will always be that appeal.
“My favourite song is In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning, because it is such a simple, heartbreaking song.
“I don’t know if this is true, but allegedly when he recorded it he had broken up with Ava Gardner.
“He had a photograph of her with him in the studio and he sang the song to her. ‘You’d be hers if only she would call.’
“She was the most beautiful woman in the world and that man was waiting for the phone to ring and it never did.
“You take a song like that, where he sings the truth, or a song like It Was A Very Good Year, reflective, poignant… well, I particularly enjoy the sad songs.”
As long as humans have hearts and ears, people will adore the unique Frank Sinatra for centuries to come.
Richard’s show, Sinatra: RAW, is at the Frankenstein Pub, part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August 3-27, at 1.15pm each day.