David Rowan Methven
He can be best described as a small-time Parish official who has adopted authority because of his association with the Judge who he’s ingratiating himself with in many ways. He’s his bodyguard and henchman, capable of much violence. He’s a procurer of many things, seemly and unseemly. He is basically amoral.
He is also a music-lover, and never seems happier than when he is banging away at Mrs. Lovett’s harmonium. Beadle’s dandified love for music and good grooming is reminiscent of S.S. officers in Nazi Germany who saw no contradiction between enjoying a night at the opera after a day spent engaging in genocide. If not exactly Eichman-esque in the scope of his crimes, Bamford is nonetheless a deeply cruel and callous man, who (unlike the Judge) never expresses remorse for his brutal actions.
He comes over as a self-important yes-man with a rather camp debonair attitude.
I see a lot of creativity being used with Beadle Bamford in various shows. If you read my page on beadles, you will see that, in reality, they were not what Sondheim thought they were. Oliver! was a lot more accurate about beadles. But that is our problem. I really don’t want an Oliver! style beadle in Sweeney Todd. So, as I have said, we need to be inventive to create our own Beadle Bamford. Timothy Spall made a splendidly slimy villain in the film and, although we can be guided by it, we should not copy his characterisation.
I have been thinking about his costume:
I think he would like to dress as a Victorian Dandy but doesn’t have the money to pull it off. So he imitaes the look but his clothes are stolen or cheap versions.
See him wearing something like a short, stubby top hat, a big floppy cravat or bow tie, a short jacket, tight trousers, boots and, perhaps a lady’s long fur coat.