Downton Abbey ~ Malvern Cinemas

Star rating: *****

It’s been a long time coming and I admit when Downton Abbey closed its doors on Christmas Day 2015 I was dubious about a movie. Unsure if there was any need to continue and whether the season finale had finished the story adequately. I’ve been a fan of the television show since Downton Abbey first opened its doors so I was torn between one last hoorah and leaving it on a high.

As the years have rolled by with not so much as a sniff of a film on the horizon, have I considered what the Crawley family and their downstairs employees might have been getting up to in the meantime? Absolutely! Thanks to Julian Fellowes, the exceptionally talented writer of one of the nation’s favourite dramas, anyone who may have found themselves wondering about the much-loved characters need wonder no more!

The opening titles gave me goose bumps, there’s always been an element of grandeur when Highclere Castle makes its appearance, however on the big screen, it is magnified and then some. The theme tune lends itself to a movie soundtrack too. Indeed all the promise of a fine follow up were in place from the outset and I wasn’t left disappointed.

You’d have to live in a sack not to have an idea as to the main storyline, the trailers have been teasing us for a while. The King and Queen (Simon Jones and Geraldine James) are paying a visit to Downton Abbey for one night and the excitement and trepidation is palpable! Not least from Mr Molesley (Kevin Doyle) who is champing at the bit to get back into his livery and undoubtedly make a spectacle of himself in true Molesley fashion.

It’s all hands to the pumps as Mrs Patmore (Lesley Nicol) mithers loudly over the menu, raising the hopes of Mr Bakewell (Mark Addy) from whom she buys her supplies. Mr Barrow (Robert-James Collier) appears all too lackadaisical for Lady Mary’s (Michelle Dockery) tastes, he clearly doesn’t measure up in comparison to her beloved Mr Carson (Jim Carter). Cue the reappearance of the retired butler and he couldn’t be more delighted to oblige Lady Mary’s request that he return to the helm. Life at the cottage seems to mostly revolve around trying to find things to occupy himself with while his wife, Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan) continues in her role of Housekeeper. Their marriage is still going strong though and indeed the pairing up continues downstairs as Daisy (Sophie McShera) is engaged to Andy (Michael Fox) ~ and there’s a couple of scenes that show Andy’s jealous streak too! Mr Molesley and Miss Baxter persist in dancing around each other, there does appear to be progress although they are moving at an even more glacial place than Carson and Hughes did.

So, with Robert (Hugh Bonneville) and Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) excited to play host to royalty, Lady Edith, now Lady Hexham (Laura Carmichael) and her husband Bertie (Harry Hadden-Paton) en route, all the action is centred around the visit and the impact it has on each individual character. Mr Branson (Allen Leach) is still very much a part of the Crawley family and proves himself to be the hero of the hour in more than one way too when the royals are ensconced at Downton.

One of the strongest storylines happens downstairs when the Downton staff are at war with the King’s staff. Carson certainly meets his match in Mr Wilson (David Haig) and it’s the battle of the chatelaine between Mrs Hughes and Mrs Webb (Richenda Carey). It all hots up when Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Mr Bates (Brendan Coyle) lead the revolution to claim back their rightful household roles and it’s quite a cunning plan.

Highlights of the movie include a whole host of one-liners delivered expertly by Penelope Wilton, Lesley Nicol, Phyllis Logan and of course Dame Maggie Smith. Plus, Imelda Staunton plays a new character, cousin of Lady Violet (Maggie Smith), Lady Bagshaw. Staunton fits in like a dream, it feels like she was always a part of the cast. The two-hander scene she shared with Penelope Wilton as Isobel was a performance de force from both actresses, a masterclass if ever there was one.

Most of my questions left open from the 2015 season finale are answered and my curiosity satisfied. However, where has Mr Mason got to? Did Mrs Patmore frighten him off? Why did Daisy accept Andy’s marriage proposal if she wasn’t sure at first? Where is Mr Carson’s hand tremor? Maybe these unanswered wonderings are enough to warrant a sequel to the movie?

The glorious locations used, extraordinary attention to detail from the costume department and the intricate yet simple script from Fellowes combined with faultless casting makes this movie one of the biggest hits of 2019, for me. You also can’t fail to be amazed at the uncanny resemblance Geraldine James pays to Queen Mary.

Go and see it, it will make you smile, laugh out loud, reminisce and cry: Downton Abbey Movie

Beecham House ~ Feature Article

The ‘Delhi Downton’ has closed its doors, which means that Sunday nights will be a little dull now that Beecham House is no longer filling a prime time spot. However, the good news is that its available to purchase on DVD. Did you watch the series? What were your thoughts? Were you as gripped as I was? Here’s my review of what became a must-watch for me:

Photo Credits ITV

Gurinder Chadha’s Beecham House grabbed my attention from the opening scene, it was fairly obvious that one of the main actors in the show was not going to die – however the fact that John Beecham (Tom Bateman) was shot in opening scenes had me on the edge of my seat from the outset. Three years later and we see that Mr Beecham has not succumbed to his wound and arrives at a spectacular Delhi Mansion with a half-cast baby in tow whom he appears paternal towards. In India in the late 18th century, the period in which the series is set, France and England were battling it out to reign supreme. This historical undercurrent runs through the whole series.

Beecham certainly appears to have an eye for the ladies, and he’s already been established as a heroic figure having saved a group of rich Indians from bandits in the opening sequence. His past career involves working for the East India Company where his brother Daniel (Leo Suter) is still a Soldier – however what he’s looking for now is to trade.

Beecham is also keenly aware of his mother’s imminent arrival, the bold and forthright Henrietta Beecham who has travelled all the way from England to stay at Beecham House having not seen her son for years. Lesley Nicol plays her and is predictably superb as the meddling matchmaker. Bessie Carter (daughter of Jim Carter (yes that’s Mr Carson from Downton Abbey) and the multi-talented Imedla Staunton) plays Henrietta’s companion, Violet and she’s got her heart set on a proposal of marriage from Beecham – although that does not appear to be forthcoming. Especially as he also has another beautiful lady on his radar, Governess, Margaret Osbourne (Dakota Blue Richards).

The scenery is breath-taking, the costumes are eye-catchingly spectacular and the casting is on point. Twists, turns and all the ingredients for a watchable period drama and its easy to see why the Downton reference is made. Enjoy it, it’s a treat indeed.

Here are a few words from cast members Tom Bateman and Lesley Nicol:

Tom Bateman

What attracted you to the role?

For me it always comes down to script and characters. I was sent the first three scripts and I really wanted to know what happened next. I got very invested in all the characters. There’s a great line that John says which is, ‘I’m not here to build walls’ and I thought the idea of working with two very different cultures would be very interesting.

Why is John Beecham so appealing to play?

I’ve never played a character with so much weight to him, and that appealed to me straight away. My characters are normally quite energetic, but John is very strong, quite hard and you don’t really know who he is at first. He internalises, he’s a man of mystery. He’s got a baby but there’s no mother and he doesn’t tell anybody anything about that, which instantly makes you think something’s going on because otherwise why wouldn’t he just tell people who the baby’s mother is? He’s inherently a very good man who’s trying to do the right thing, but he’s been through the wars. He’s also very forward-thinking. He left the East India Company because he didn’t agree with the way they did things which, at the time, was very bold. A lot of people just went along with it and didn’t question it but he refused to be part of it. For someone to stand up against the norm makes them very intriguing to me.

Is the series an ensemble piece?

It’s called Beecham House and there are quite a few Beechams – me, my mum, my brother, plus the wonderful Bessie [Carter] who plays a family friend, [Violet Woodhouse]. There are lots of other characters associated with the house, who are inspiring to work alongside. What I loved about it was that we all had great stories. Even characters who have slightly smaller roles in terms of being on screen, they have a falling-in-love story or a political story. Every moment they appear is very rich. Nobody was sitting there going, ‘I wish I was in it a bit more’. It was wonderful.

What’s John’s relationship like with his family?

He’s being pulled in lots of different directions by lots of different people: his mum, his brother, a love interest or two! Just give the guy a break! He starts the series on his own, and by the end things have changed a lot. He thought he’d lost his brother forever, he hadn’t seen his mother for years, he was very independent, then they all come together again.

What do you think viewers like about period drama?

They look beautiful, they’re very rich in composition. You’re instantly in another world. And horses! You don’t get to see horses that often. But for me, the reason I love filming period dramas, is that they instantly make you act differently. People don’t talk about their feelings as much. They don’t say, ‘Oh, I really fancy you’. And you don’t touch each other. So you have to find another way of expressing those feelings which is really fun. There was a scene in Vanity Fair in which Olivia [Cooke] and I can’t say how we feel, because it wasn’t done, but my character is going to [the Battle of] Waterloo and it was so rich and dramatic. You’re torn between what you want to say and what you’re allowed to say. And it oozes sexiness because you’re watching and going, ‘God, just kiss her!’ It’s like Mr Darcy and Lizzy Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. You know they’re going to get together but it takes six hours of anticipation to get there.

Lesley Nicol

What was it about the character of Henrietta that attracted you to the role?

It was a number of things, actually. I was very attracted to the fact it was a different kind of role for me. This character gave me something meaty and very different from what I’ve been doing. I absolutely love India. I did a movie there ten years ago called West is West, so to go back was a huge draw. Gurinder was another big draw and I knew they were getting top people on board for cast and crew, and it’s ITV primetime, so what’s not to like! It was a lovely thing to land on the doorstep.

Who is Henrietta?

She’s John’s mother. On the face of it she’s a very respectable, god-fearing, upper middle class woman, very conservative. She comes over to India on a very long boat trip with her companion Violet who’s played by Bessie Carter. They have this hideous journey and when they arrive they’re completely poleaxed because everything is so foreign to them.

What’s Henrietta’s relationship like with Violet?

Well Violet is unmarried and desperate to find a husband. She’s the daughter of a dear friend and so Henrietta asked her to come along as her companion and Violet does that very well. They play cards together and have a very good relationship. But the bottom line is that Violet does want a husband and as far as Henrietta is concerned, John is a very good-looking and a kind man with a certain amount of wealth with an amazing house, so she’s very much hoping to position John and Violet together so that they eventually get married and come back to England.

It appears that John has secrets at Beecham House?

When they arrive they’re introduced to Margaret Osborne [played by Dakota Blue Richards]. They don’t know who Margaret is but she looks very settled in his company and they think, ‘hang on a minute!’ So they’re not very nice to Margaret. Then other women turn up and there’s a baby and they’re very confused about who’s who and what’s what.


Is John pleased to be reunited with his mother?

They haven’t seen each other for 12 years so he’s totally different from last time she saw him. He’s older, wiser. She has two sons and they’re both in India. There’s definitely a base love that they all have for each other. But Henrietta is challenging, there’s no doubt about it, and he’s not been quite ready to tell her everything that’s going on in his life when she turns up. She has to try and deal with all of this information and she’s not easy to be around because the whole experience has thrown her so much.

What’s happened to John’s father?

He was a bad’un and got taken to Australia. He was a gambler and a drinker. He gets mentioned occasionally but he’s absent so there’s a sadness there because she was left on her own which was awful in those days. Her brother took her in, then he died. So that’s one of the reasons for coming to India, as she’s all alone.

What are Henrietta’s character traits?

She is tough, but she’s from a very narrow world. And suddenly she’s in a household with dozens of servants, the food’s all wrong, she gets bitten by mosquitos, she will not wear anything cooler even though it’s baking hot. It’s a different religion, it’s all completely foreign to her. But what’s nice about this character and the arc of her journey is that she does learn and adjust.

Did you do any research into the politics of the time?

I did actually because I didn’t know this period. It’s earlier than I’m used to. I read quite a lot, I did a bit of digging because I wanted to know what it would have been like for her. There weren’t many white women in India at that time. The white men often formed liaisons with Indian women so Henrietta was the outsider in every sense really. I found the political element quite fascinating. About the East India Company and the corruption and the bad behaviour of that time. John Beecham is trying to form a business, but he finds it hard because everyone is terribly suspicious and there are people trying to derail him. But what I like about this series is that all the characters are on a journey. Henrietta and Violet are. The staff in the house are because they have this man turn up who they don’t know and it changes their household completely. Everybody is having a major shift, whoever they are.

Beecham House is drawing comparisons with Downton Abbey, partly because it’s about the servants as much as the landlord of the house. What do you think about that?

People are comparing it but I don’t think it’s any more comparable than that really. It’s a different period, a different country. It’s a house with servants and people upstairs but it’s a whole different tone, a whole different feel to it.

Make sure you get your hands on a copy of Beecham House on DVD, it’s gripping viewing and was released on 22nd July.

Downton Abbey Movie ~ Is It Too Late?

I’m a self-confessed fan of the popular ITV series Downton Abbey, to the point of fan-girling, checking out the fandom activity and feeling fairly bereft when the Abbey closed its doors at Christmas back in 2015. News of a movie to enable Downton’s enthusiastic following to take another peek into the upstairs and downstairs goings on was met excitedly, by me and by fellow fans of the Fellowes drama.

However, as the years have rolled by with (from what we mere members of the public could tell) not so much as a sniff of a script and longstanding cast members almost continuously cagey when asked questions about a possible movie by the media, the question mark over the potential movie hovered precariously. As a blogger who predominantly covers theatre I was delighted to discover so many of my favourite actors from the drama series treading the boards. Phyllis Logan toured with Noel Coward’s ‘Present Laughter’ which in turn offered a superb opportunity I might not otherwise have had.  I took a trip to Chiswick to carry out an interview and enjoyed coffee and croissants with Ms Logan while I was at it, she’s an actor who has been high on my radar since she played Lady Jane in Lovejoy. Her colleague, Lesley Nicol opened my eyes to fantastic and extremely worthy charities, so I was over the moon (bears!) to interview her for my blog, too. With the vast majority of the show’s famous faces being kept busy in various ‘jobs’ (just check out the credits that Lily James who played Lady Rose has wracked up!) the movie seemed a distant and not so urgent thought.

Phyllis Logan appeared in the UK tour of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter in 2016.

When the announcement of impending filming broke, not so long ago, and just over 2 1/2 years after the festive finale, my initial reaction wasn’t to jump for joy. What year are they planning on setting it in was top of my list of queries. Are we picking up straight after their new year celebrations therefore following Mr Carson’s (Jim Carter) journey of enforced retirement or will we pick it up long after life has changed for Downton’s inhabitants? I’m the first to admit that my over-active imagination already sees the Carsons living a different life and has Mrs Patmore paired off with widowed hanger-on, Mr Mason (Paul Copley).

With the Downton Abbey film’s release date now set for 20th September 2019, my humble opinion of a movie following long after momentum has been lost has shifted. I think it was the Instagram post from Michelle Dockery (the ever-popular Lady Mary – follow her: https://www.instagram.com/theladydockers/ to check out the post I’m referring to) that not only cemented in my mind that this IS happening, but also transported me back to the good old days when social media buzzed with anticipation of the next series of Downton Abbey. I recalled the Duchess of Cambridge visiting the set while the final series was in production, the excitement surrounding that was palpable. So maybe regaining some of that old Downton Abbey-inspired joy will be just the ticket for 2019?

One thing’s for sure, I’ve moved from sceptic to eagerly awaiting and hope beyond hope that Fellowes won’t let us down! In fact, I have one plea to make – do what you will with all of the characters but please let Mrs Patmore be happy!! Back in the day I would have begged for Lady Edith’s (Laura Carmichael) happiness, however unless a curve ball is coming our way, it seems that her future was looking rosy by the time we bid au revoir to the Crawley family.

Bring on 20th September 2019, then…

 

Photo Credits: ITV & Nobby Clark 

 

Spotlight on… Lesley Nicol

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*** Spotlight On… Lesley Nicol ***

How do I introduce this ‘Spotlight On…’? This is an actress who has been on my interview wish list since before this blog-site was born and she has been one of my personal heroes for the past two decades at least (longer, probably!). Many of you will know her as ‘Mrs Patmore’ from the ridiculously successful ‘Downton Abbey’ – so, overwhelmingly, I give you my interview with Lesley Nicol!

Lesley, thank you so much for talking to Break A Leg Review, I first became a fan of yours when you starred as Mrs Beaver in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for the BBC, but when did you feel that your career really started?

I don’t really think there was a time to be honest, there have been certain jobs that have been important, and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was one of them because it was filmed over several months, rather than quick TV. It felt like a significant thing to do.

I don’t ever think “oh, my career has taken off”, it’s all about the current job and whether it’s fun. There have been notable high spots which have been The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, East is East, Mamma Mia and Downton Abbey. They have all been things that make you go “oh blimey that was a bit special!”

When you became a actress, were there any roles that you had a particular ambition to play or still want to play?

No, I always struggle with that when people ask me this question. I did want to play Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers and I did play her, I loved that, that was a good fit but otherwise there isn’t anything I’m aware of that I want to do.

I saw you play Rosie in Mamma Mia three times and thought you were amazing, what are your best memories of that show?

It was surreal even auditioning for it, I actually auditioned for Bjorn. I was introduced to what felt like about twenty people so it didn’t even feel like a normal audition. I was walking along a long line of people and when I got to Bjorn, I curtsied! He didn’t quite understand the joke.

Then, I was singing Dancing Queen for him and I’m good at music but I’m not very good at remembering the words of songs so I was singing “doing the dancing queen” and he looked at me, very puzzled and said “no, no, no, it’s not “doing the dancing queen” it’s “digging the dancing queen!”. I said “oh yeah, sorry!” and thought “why didn’t I know that?!”.

But it was quite a surreal job because I was in it between 2000 and 2002 when it was a hot show, I’d look out into the audience and see Cher, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep – all the Americans were coming to see it. Of course, now we know why, because they made the film.

It was just glorious, though and my dad came to see it 35 times! He became a great fan of the show, he loved it.

Many people claim that Abba songs are notoriously difficult to sing, did you find that to be the case?

I think people who sing karaoke, for example, think it’s easy to just knock one out. We had the best musical team and they were very strict about what we did, it was very strictly organised and beautifully directed. I know we were given certain guidelines about how we were to sing the songs.

In fact I was in a tour of The Vagina Monologues with Linda Robson, we were in Worthing one night at a karaoke bar and the little minx got me up on stage to sing an Abba song, but all the words were wrong! That was really weird!

You’ve done many more musicals as well as Mamma Mia, would you be keen to perform in a musical again or indeed on stage in any capacity?

Yes, yes I would, I like to sing actually, I’m trying to get brave and follow my dear friends Annie Reid and Richard Dempsey, both of whom have done such brilliant cabarets. I’d love to have a go but I’m a bit scared, I’m trying to get my confidence together to do that.

I have to move onto Downton Abbey, the series finale was well worth waiting for, were you happy with how things turned out for Mrs Patmore? Did she have a good ‘send-off’?

I didn’t feel it was a ‘send-off’, because it didn’t feel like the end to me and it might not be the end, there might be a film, we don’t know. I didn’t feel like he’d put the final stamp on it, he did a bit with some characters, but I thought it was just a really good episode and very touching. It would have been nice if things had progressed a bit further with Mr Mason, but not everybody can have a happy ending because life isn’t like that.

I thought Mrs Patmore really got a chance to shine as a character in this series and I agree that she hasn’t had a storyline ‘ending’ as such, so if the rumoured movie does go ahead, what do you think we’d find the character doing in the future?

I have no idea, I wouldn’t even try to guess, I do know he’s got an idea for the movie and he’s always doing about five things at once, he’s a workaholic, so you never know!

The Downton Abbey Text Santa sketch for ITV was hilarious and easily lived up to expectations after the previous year’s effort featuring George Clooney, how many takes were needed to film it?

I think we did it a couple of times because I wasn’t sure how bonkers to be, really, but I just decided to be totally bonkers, I thought that was the way forward. Of course, Gordon Ramsay wasn’t actually there so I didn’t have anyone to shout at. But I got the best Christmas jumper, with a pudding on it! I’m glad you thought it was good because the George Clooney one was quite special wasn’t it.

As you’re a household name, you have been able to promote exceptionally worthwhile charities such as Animals Asia. How did they come to your attention?

I read about it on Twitter throughPeter Egan, Peter was a friend, not a close friend at that point, I didn’t know him very well but I was aware that Peter is very very involved with animal welfare. I remember clearly looking at a picture of a moon bear, about to investigate and read the article with it and said “oh god, Peter not another sad animal story”. I do follow him on Twitter, I read what he shares and it’s always sad, but on this occasion I didn’t think for one moment that it would grab my heart, which it did. Then I investigated the site and started reading about what bile bear farming is and I suppose interestingly when I look back, I was showing one of the videos to my niece here in America and my husband, just to show them and I started really sobbing and they looked at me like “what in god’s name is wrong with you?” and when I think about it, if I had been aware of it (which I wasn’t), that was probably a sign that I was totally hooked by the sadness and the tragedy of this.

Then I started to watch some of the films featuring Jill Robinson, there’s a very disturbing documentary called Cages of Shame which I watched, and I met her after that. Somewhere in the works somebody told me that 160 million people in China watch Downton Abbey, so I asked Jill if that meant I could be any help to her and she said “yes it would mean that and if you’re able to come out to China to visit us we could get the local press and use the fact that you’re here”. So I did and now I’ve been out four times because I’m totally and utterly besotted with Jill and the cause. To meet a moon bear is absolutely amazing and I’m totally up to my neck in it, I won’t ever be able to walk away from that.

The fact these bears can learn to trust humans again is something we can learn from, when all they’ve known is fear of pain and that a human has meant hurt to them – when you go out there you can hand feed them and they’re relaxed with you. You wonder how they’ve made that transition after twenty years stuffed in a cage.

Medical Detection Dogs is your other main charity, how did that one come to the fore?

I was at Chiswick Dog Show which is very close to where I live and I walked my dogs through the park and noticed these dogs with red jackets on and I heard someone say “go and find out about this, it’s amazing” so that got my interest and I went and listened to somebody and it was connected with things that I related to. I’ve had Cancer in the family and my husband has type 2 Diabetes, I love dogs and at this point they were quite a young charity, really not very well known at all. So I said “I think this is amazing and if there’s anything I can do”, I then watched a demonstration and met some of the dogs and the people, many of whom I’ve grown very attached to.

That is also not something I can walk away from, there are other ambassadors on board now and while I’m not in the country, that’s a good thing that other people are supporting and fundraising, but there place in my heart and always will be.

You recently filmed a piece for ITV’s This Morning reporting from Blue Cross  and Dogs Trust, I thought it was fantastic…

I want to know if Teddy from Blue Cross has been re-homed! He was so beautiful and people are scared of staffies and rotties, but in the right hands they’re completely people pleasing, easily trained dogs.

I give money to the Oakfield Oldies because we can’t have a dog where we currently live.

Oh do you! They were lovely and I can’t tell you how full of beans they were. There was a fabulous one called Chewbacca, he’s 13 and probably has many years left because they go into their twenties, that breed. He was a beautiful dog and all he wants is to sit next to you and have a cuddle.

Are you going to be doing any more of those films for This Morning?

I think the door might be open to do more, yes, they seemed to be pleased with it, they know I’ve got an interest in animal welfare so it could be something different next time.

Favourite Things (give me your first reaction to these questions):

Favourite time of year?

Spring.

Favourite memory from your career?

Seeing my dad dancing in the stalls at the Prince Edward Theatre, he was dancing to Waterloo.

Favourite Mrs Patmore line?

“Daisy, I said you could go for a drink of water, not a trip up the Nile”

and the other one which Sophie (McShera, who plays Daisy) and I laugh because we didn’t know what it meant:

“It’s you and me, Daisy, contra mundi”

Favourite way to spend your time off?

Walking the dogs on the beach.

Favourite holiday destination?

I’d like to go to Bali.

You can hear Lesley’s voice in ‘Goldie and Bear’ on Disney Junior – she plays the mad ‘Fairy Godmother’! I think I speak for many when I say I hope the ‘Downton Abbey’ film happens.

Also, ‘Teddy’ from ‘Blue Cross’ has been re-homed!!

Links to Animals Asia and Medical Detection Dogs can be found below:

http://www.animalsasia.com/uk/

http://medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight On… Helen McWilliams

Here’s your opportunity to get to know me 🙂

*** Spotlight On… Helen McWilliams ***

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Why did you start ‘Break A Leg Review’?

I was contributing as a reviewer and interviewer to another online review site, I told one of my favourite actresses (during an interview) that I was considering setting up my own site, and she was very encouraging about it. I had been building up a network of contacts around the  West Midlands and wanted to continue to do that for ourselves, with Garry (my husband) in tow. Garry takes a backseat these days as his own career is taking a few exciting turns. I owe thanks to Tracey Childs who was the actress encouraging me to ‘go it alone’!

What piqued your interest in becoming a writer?

I was always interested in writing stories when I was a child. However entertainment journalism became a career goal due to the vast amount of theatre shows that my parents took me to see from a young age, coupled with the fact I was a little telly addict  (and still am), I was hugely inspired by many actors and actresses and the idea of being able to promote them via articles and interviews was appealing.

Who inspired you in your youth when you were first thinking about this career?

Judy Buxton, Tracey Childs, Felicity Dean, Sandra Huggett, Liz Robertson, Carol Royle and Cath Shipton were my real heroes when I was in my youth and all of them remain  my heroes. They’re my magnificent seven!

I was and still am hugely inspired by Robert Daws, Sylvester McCoy, Jeffrey Holland and Derek Thompson.

What is your ambition for the site?

My ambition for this year (2015) was to include interviews with authors as well as actors and other industry-related individuals. The new ‘Spotlight On…’ page has drawn in a few more excellent interviewees from many walks of the arts. Our links with London theatres have opened up this year and I hope to expand on that, which is a huge ambition for the site. I wanted to interview as many of my personal heroes as possible, as well. That is happening and overwhelming me, constantly!

What are you writing in your fictional ‘career’ at the moment?

I’m so busy with this site and working for ‘Union Times’, ‘Theatre and Performance Magazine’, I have let the fictional work take  a lower priority, for now…

What is your advice for budding writers?

Write about what you know, network with other writers and have your work read aloud to see if it works. It should always be an enjoyable experience, not a chore – and try your hand at a number of genres, you might surprise yourself!

Favourite Things (quick-fire questions):

Favourite Actor?

Oh, I love so many actors – I’m going to have to say Jeffrey Holland AND Robert Daws. Both appeared in hit television shows which were a big part of my youth. They’ve both gone on to great things, too!

Favourite Actress?

Nooooo, don’t ask me! Ok, Carol Royle AND Judy Buxton – I’ve loved them both since I was a little girl, seen them on television and in Judy’s case, I’ve seen her on stage many times. (I have a short list of ten favourite actresses, so this was hard!!!).

Favourite Television Programme?

Home Fires

Favourite Play?

This changes so often, this year (2015) my favourite play has been ‘Harvey’.

Favourite Musical?

Rocky Horror Show and Phantom of the Opera. I am hopeless at choosing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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