I have had a really interesting last two weeks. I did an interview for the recent DVD release of ‘Hadleigh’, a popular series of the seventies., starring the charming Gerald Harper and me (for a season). In it I played a single mother, more unusual in those times struggling to be both parents and start working again. Michael Billington played my dissolute difficult husband. He was a lovely man, fun and friendly. I was playing a rather stressed person, but had a hard time keeping a straight face with Michael, during some of our scenes.
He became quite a star in ‘UFO’, another series I did. He and Ed Bishop were quite a pair and lots of fun, without a starry bone between them. Dear Ed took a lot of ribbing for his blonde wig, but he took it all in good part. Sadly they both died, very recently, within weeks of each other and the industry misses them.
Interestingly this is the only job in which I had a serious falling out with one of the Producers. She accused me of ‘holding back’ in my performance in the long shots so they would have to do a close-up of me. I was as they say in the modern vernacular ‘gob smacked’ – I was lost for words. I had heard these rumours of Hollywood actors behaving like this, but was and am absolutely sure it never happened.
I don’t like arguments and confrontation, not in real life anyway, but on this occasion I turned into a rather unpleasant spitfire and ‘let her have it’. There was peace after that.
The making of films, TV etc is any case, a highly charged situation, full of high energy and I loathe it when negative energy is allowed to enter the situation. Strangely this is an industry which brings out the best in people and the worst, maybe because the stakes are so high and the egos so big.
I am privileged to be on the committee of the Theatrical Guild the charity which looks after
back stage and front of house staff. My maternal grandparents were both backstage staff and my Grandfather was quite famous in his day as resident Stage Designer, for many years at the St Martins Theatre in London. He designed and built the train for the famous play ‘The Ghost Train’, to great acclaim. Disney invited him to go and work for them, but he didn’t want to leave London and declined.
The Charity had our annual get to know us party last week, it was a great success and lots of fun, with many of the good and the great there, including Simon Callow, Geoffrey Palmer, Anthony Andrews, Michael Frayn and Trevor Peacock who kindly did our auction. He was brilliant and very funny and managed to get us more money for our prizes, than we had expected.
I want to add one last, but really important thought. I am sure you are all as saddened and enraged as I am over the terrible case of Baby P. How can these terrible things happen to the most vulnerable in our society, are we really now a ‘so what’ society without feelings, conscience. I don’t think so. The NSPCC was always the charity of our choice, when I ran the family business and it will remain mine first and foremost.
I have now got that off my chest, but it is a heartbreak that we still live in Dickensian society of indifference and cruelty to some of our children. I acted in a BBC version of ‘Oliver Twist’, when I was just starting out and I wish we would do another one. ‘Oliver’ is a wonderful musical, but rather far from Charles Dickens’ story of cruelty and child abuse.
David Lean’s version of ‘Oliver Twist’ is one of the most amazing films, which underlines the brutality of the age. We seem to live in similar times.
So that is all for now. There is so much to write about. See you soon.