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Patrick Colbert

Patrick Colbert
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Rachel Kempson

Rachel Kempson

Rachel Kempson obituary in “The Guardian” in 2003.

The actor Rachel Kempson – widow of Sir Michael Redgrave and mother of Vanessa, Corin and Lynn – has died aged 92. Known affectionately as “the matriarch to a dynasty” (a title she usually rejected), for many commentators the skills she brought to negotiating the often volatile strands of her family were quite as outstanding as her long and distinguished acting career. It was true, though, that her own abilities as an actor for stage, television, film and radio were often overshadowed by those of her husband and their illustrious brood.

Born into a conventionally middle-class family in Dartmouth, Devon, Kempson was the daughter of the principal of Dartmouth Royal Naval College, and originally faced strong family disapproval to going on the stage. But once she had seen Dame Sybil Thorndike playing the role of Katherine of Aragon, in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, the die was cast. She was determined to achieve her aim and, after taking various odd jobs, finally got her wish and went on to win a part scholarship to Rada. 

Kempson’s first stage appearance was as Hera, in Much Ado About Nothing, in the 1933 Stratford-upon-Avon season, followed by Ophelia and a Juliet which those who knew her still describe as “incandescent” – a quality in a sense she never lost. Even in later life, as one friend put it, “however old she was, she brought a quality of youthful gaiety”. Also in 1933, Kempson made her first London appearance, as Bianca, in The Lady From Alfaqueque. Advertisement

The following year, while working at the Liverpool Playhouse, she met and fell in love with the young Michael Redgrave. They married a year later, beginning a partnership that endured for 50 years until his death in 1985, and successfully weathered the storms of his bisexuality. Kempson’s loyalty was a key to their marriage. 

As her autobiography, A Family And Its Fortunes (1986) revealed, she remained modest about her own considerable talent, and, in the early years, allowed domestic demands to take precedence. Friends said that her family always came first in her life. None the less, with her fine-boned, classically English looks – a likeness inherited by her children and grandchildren – and her easy elegance on stage, she was seldom out of work. 

In 1936 she appeared with the Old Vic Company, and later joined John Gielgud’s season at the Queen’s Theatre. In the 1950s, she appeared regularly at Stratford (she played Regan to her husband’s Lear in the 1953 season) and continued to play a variety of roles in the classical repertoire throughout her life. Like many of her generation, she also had the courage and flexibility to reinvent herself with the rise of the new wave, joining George Devine’s English Stage Company in 1956, the same year that John Osborne’s Look Back In Anger made its appearance. 

Not that the transition was without mishap. One night in 1972, while appearing in Osborne’s A Sense Of Detachment, Kempson jumped into the stalls to administer some well-chosen slaps to two members of the audience who had been heckling. Afterwards, regretful, she admitted that it wasn’t the sort of thing to do, “but once in a blue moon, you do”. 

Uncharacteristic in one sense, in another this action was typical of a certain headstrong streak and a fierce sense of loyalty which, once given, remained for a lifetime. That passionate openness also informed her best work. Playing Polena, the lovelorn housekeeper in George Devine’s production of Chekhov’s The Seagull at the Royal Court in 1964 – in some estimations, among one of the best – Kempson played it, as one friend put it, “with her heart flying”. 

In the 1960s and 1970s, she continued to work steadily, appearing in Julian Mitchell’s highly successful West End adaptation of Ivy Compton-Burnett’s A Family And A Fortune (1975), Alan Bennett’s The Old Country (1977), with Sir Alec Guinness, and a number of popular British films of the period – among them Tom Jones (1963), Georgy Girl (1966), which starred her daughter Lynn, The Charge Of The Light Brigade (1968), with her daughter Vanessa and son Corin, a movie made by her then son-in-law Tony Richardson, and The Virgin Soldiers (1969). “She really came into her own in later years,” according to a friend. “A typical role was that of a slightly down-trodden woman who knew her place. But Rachel also had a quite considerable sharpness. She had a great sense of fun as well as tremendous warmth.” 

A favourite role of Kempson’s was apparently that of Dionyza, in Pericles, in the 1958 Stratford season, when she also played Lady Capulet and an “enchanting” Ursula in Much Ado. This is a role traditionally of calculated evil, and many of her friends were surprised at the depth she achieved. “I loved playing it”, she confessed afterwards, “it’s my only opportunity to show the other side.” 

In her 70s, Kempson took on more eccentric, scatty personas. She appeared as Julia Shuttlewaite in a glittering West End revival of TS Eliot’s The Cocktail Party in 1986; two year later, she was Maria Vasilyevna in Uncle Vanya (with Michael Gambon, Greta Scacchi and Jonathan Pryce); and the following year she was Volumnia in Corin Redgrave’s production of Coriolanus at the Young Vic. 

Among many television series and plays, she appeared in Elizabeth R, Jewel In The Crown, Love For Lydia, The Bell, The Black Tower, Uncle Vanya and Lorna Doona, and late in the 1980s won a Bafta best actress nomination (for her television performance in Kate, The Good Neigbour.) On radio, she was a memorable Hester in The Forsyte Saga. Her last film was Deja Vu (1998), in which she played the mother of Vanessa. 

Though her acting career inevitably slowed, Kempson continued to appear, often alongside Corin, on a number of occasions at poetry recitals. Until she became too frail and moved to live with Vanessa, she was a keen and creative gardener, turning her home in Hampshire into a haven where family and friends could always go for support in troubled times. 

In 2000, Kempson sold the Redgrave family archive for £200,000 to the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden. Vanessa, Corin and Lynn survive her. Among her grandchildren are the actors Joely and Natasha Richardson, and Jemma Redgrave. 

· Rachel Kempson (Lady Redgrave), actor, born May 28 1910; died May 23 2003

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Stephen Mangan

Stephen Mangan

Stephen Mangan (Wikipedia)

Stephen Mangan was born in 1968. He has played Guy Secretan in Green Wing, Dan Moody in I’m Alan Partridge, Sean Lincoln in Episodes and Postman Pat in Postman Pat: The Movie.

As a stage actor, he was Tony-nominated for his portrayal of Norman in The Norman Conquests on Broadway. He also starred as Bertie Wooster in Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the Duke of York’s Theatre, which won the 2014 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.

Mangan was born in Ponders EndLondon, to Irish parents. He has two sisters, Anita and Lisa.

Mangan was educated at two independent schools for boys: at Lochinver House School, in Potters BarHertfordshire, and Haileybury and Imperial Service College (now co-educational), a boarding school in the village of Hertford Heath (also in Hertfordshire). He was in a school prog rock band called Aragon, who recorded an album called The Wizard’s Dream.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Law at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Mangan took a year out to care for his mother, Mary, who died of colon cancer at age 45. Weeks after her death, he auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to study there for three years. His father, James, died of a brain tumor at age 63.

After graduating from RADA in 1994, Mangan did not pursue lead roles on-screen, preferring to take what he saw as the less limited opportunities on the stage. Between 1994 and 2000, he performed in plays throughout the UK and the West End before joining the theatre company Cheek by Jowl for an international tour of Much Ado About Nothing, earning him a nomination for a National Theatre Ian Charleson Award. He worked again for director Declan Donnellan at the Royal Shakespeare Company in School for Scandal, and at the Savoy Theatre in Hay Fever.

In 2008 he played the title role in The Norman Conquests, directed by Matthew Warchus, at The Old Vic and then at the Circle in the Square on Broadway.  The production was a huge critical success earning several Tony Award nominations, including one for Mangan himself and won the Tony Award for Best Revival.

In 2012 he appeared at the Royal Court in a Joe Penhall play, Birthday, directed by Roger Michell, playing a pregnant man.

Mangan starred as Bertie Wooster in Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the Duke of York’s Theatre alongside Matthew Macfadyen as Jeeves from October 2013 until they were replaced by Mark Heap and Robert Webb in April 2014. The production won the 2014 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.

Mangan’s breakthrough television performance was as Adrian Mole in the six-part BBC TV show series Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years in 2001. That same year he appeared in Sword of Honour on Channel 4, alongside Daniel Craig.

In 2002, he appeared as Dan Moody in the I’m Alan Partridge episode “Bravealan”. A scene where Alan repeatedly shouts “Dan!” at Dan from a distance in a car park, while Dan pretends not to notice him, was named the second best moment from the series by Metro, and in 2014 Mangan said that he has “Dan!” shouted at him by passers-by almost every day.

Mangan played Guy Secretan in the BAFTA-winning British sitcom Green Wing. In Channel 4’s The World’s Greatest Comedy Characters, Guy was voted 34th. He starred as Keith in Never Better, a British television sitcom on BBC Two. He plays a recovering alcoholic Keith Merchant and Kate Ashfield is his long-suffering wife Anita. The series was written by Fintan Ryan for World Productions.

In 2009, Free Agents, a romantic black comedy starred Mangan, Sharon Horgan and Anthony Head. Originally a pilot for Channel 4 in November 2007, the series began on 13 February 2009.  It spawned a short lived US remake, which was cancelled after just four episodes aired, although four more were later released on Hulu.

He played the title role in Dirk Gently, a British comedy detective drama TV series based on characters from the Dirk Gently novels by Douglas Adams. The series was created by Howard Overman and co-starred Darren Boyd as his sidekick Richard MacDuff. Recurring actors included Helen Baxendale as MacDuff’s girlfriend Susan Harmison, Jason Watkins as Dirk’s nemesis DI Gilks and Lisa Jackson as Dirk’s receptionist Janice Pearce. Unlike most detective series Dirk Gently featured broadly comic touches and even some science fiction themes such as time travel and artificial intelligence. He has said that he was “bitterly upset” at the BBC’s axing of the series after four episodes due to a freeze on the licence fee.

He played the title role in “The Hunt for Tony Blair“, a one-off episode of The Comic Strip Presents…, a British television comedy, which was first shown on Channel 4 on 14 October 2011. The 60 minute film was written by Peter Richardson and Pete Richens and presented in the style of a 1950s film noir. It stars Mangan as the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is wanted for murder and on the run as a fugitive. The film received its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August 2011. It first aired on Channel 4 on 14 October 2011; it received a mostly positive reaction from reviewers, and was nominated for a BAFTA award (Best Comedy Programme 2012) and the British Comedy Awards (Best Comedy Drama 2011).

He appeared in Episodes, a British/American television comedy series created by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik and produced by Hat Trick Productions. It premiered on Showtime in the United States on 9 January 2011 at 9:30 pm  and on BBC Two in the UK on 10 January 2011.

The show is about a British husband-and-wife comedy writing team who travel to Hollywood to remake their successful British TV series, with disastrous results. On 11 December 2013, it was announced that Showtime had renewed Episodes for a fourth season. Episodeshas received positive reviews by critics, with many singling out Mangan, Tamsin Greig, and Matt LeBlanc‘s performances.

In 2018 Stephen Mangan played the lead role in a comedy British TV Series Bliss that was aired on Sky One.

Mangan’s first film part was as Doctor Crane in Billy Elliot. He played French cabaret singer Pierre Dupont in the cult film Chunky Monkeyalongside David Threlfall and Alison Steadman. He appeared in the Miramax film Birthday Girl, starring Nicole Kidman and Vincent Cassel.

He appeared opposite Keira Knightley in the 2002 short New Year’s Eve, and played the leading role in SuperTex (2003), a Dutch film, filmed in English and directed by Jan Schütte. He played a comedian in Festival is a 2005 British black comedy about a number of people at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe directed by Annie Griffin. The general shots of the festival were filmed during the 2004 event. Mangan was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA for his performance.

Confetti, a 2006 British mockumentary romantic comedy film, was released on 5 May 2006. It was conceived and directed by Debbie Isittand stars many British comedians, including Jessica StevensonJimmy CarrMartin FreemanMark HeapJulia DavisRobert Webb, and Olivia Colman. It follows a bridal magazine competition for the most original wedding, the ultimate prize being a house, and the three couples who are chosen to compete. Mangan plays one of the grooms, a professional tennis player.

He starred in Beyond the Pole, a 2010 British mockumentary adapted from the cult BBC radio series of the same name. It received its UK cinema release in 2010. It was directed and produced by David L. Williams.  The film was shot on floating sea ice off the coast of Greenland, and stars an acclaimed cast of actors and comedians including Mangan, Rhys ThomasMark BentonAlexander Skarsgardand Helen BaxendaleVariety magazine described the film as a cross between The Office and Touching the Void.

In 2013 Mangan played Alastair Caldwell in Rush, a British-German biographical sports drama film centered on the rivalry between race car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula One motor-racing season. It was written by Peter Morgan, directed by Ron Howard and stars Chris Hemsworth as Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Lauda. The film premiered in London on 2 September 2013 and was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival[30][31] before its UK and US theatrical releases on, respectively, 13 and 20 September 2013.

In 2014, Mangan voiced the title role in Postman Pat: The Movie, a British 3D computer-animated comedy film featuring Postman Pat, star of a long-running BBC children’s series. It was originally due to be released on 24 May 2013,[33] but was pushed back to a year later. Pat’s singing voice was performed by Ronan Keating. Other voice actors in the film included Jim BroadbentRupert Grint, and David Tennant.

Mangan was host of the Evening Standard British Film Awards for four years (2009–2013). On 27 April 2014, he returned to host the British Academy Television Craft Awards in London for a third time. Mangan recorded the role of Cloten in Shakespeare‘s Cymbelinefor the Arkangel Shakespeare audiobook series, directed by Clive Brill.

Mangan is married to actress Louise Delamere. They have three sons.

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Marie O’Neill

Marie O’Neill

Marie O’Neill (Wikipedia)

Marie O’Neill was born in 1886 and was an Irish actress of stage and film. She holds a place in theater history as the first actress to interpret the lead character of Pegeen Mike Flaherty in John Millington Synge‘s controversial stage masterpiece, The Playboy of the Western World (1907).

Born Mary Agnes Allgood at 40 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, she was one of eight children of compositor George and french polisher Margaret (née Harold) Allgood,[2][3]she was known as “Molly”. Her father was sternly Protestant and against all music, dancing and entertainment, and her mother a strict Catholic.  After her father died in 1896, she was placed in an orphanage. She was apprenticed to a dressmaker. One of Allgood’s brothers, Tom, became a Catholic priest.

Maud Gonne set up Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland) in 1900 to educate women about Irish history, language and the arts, and Allgood and her sister Sara joined the association’s drama classes around 1903. Their acting teacher, Willie Fay, enrolled them in the National Theatre Society, later known as the Abbey Theatre. Maire was part of the Abbey Theatre from 1906-1918 where she appeared in many productions.[9]In 1904 she was cast in a play by Irish playwright Teresa Deevy called Katie Roche  where she played the part of Margaret Drybone, there were 38 performances in this production.

Marie O’Neill

In 1905 Molly met Irish playwright John Millington Synge and they fell in love, a relationship regarded as scandalous because it crossed the class barriers of the time. In September 1907 he had surgery for the removal of troublesome neck glands, but a later tumour was found to be inoperable. They became engaged before his death in March 1909. Synge wrote the plays The Playboy of the Western World and Deirdre of the Sorrows for Allgood.

Under her professional name Maire O’Neill, she appeared in films from 1930-53, including Alfred Hitchcock‘s film version of Seán O’Casey‘s play Juno and the Paycock(1930). She made her American debut in New York in 1914 in the play General John Regan at the Hudson Theatre.

In June 1911 she married G. H. Mair, drama critic of the Manchester Guardian, and later Assistant Secretary of the British Department of Information, Assistant Director of the League of Nations Secretariat in Geneva, and head of the League of Nations office in London, with whom she had two children. He died suddenly on 3 January 1926. Six months later she married Arthur Sinclair, an Abbey actor. They had two children but divorced.

Her life suffered a full share of tragedies; she was crushed by her brother Frank’s death in World War I in 1915, her fiancé Synge died before they married, her beloved husband died after 15 years of marriage, and their son died in an air crash in 1942. Her sister Sara’s husband and baby died of influenza during the Spanish flu. Sara died two years before her; they had become estranged.

She died in Park Prewett Hospital, BasingstokeEngland, on 2 November 1952, aged 66, where she was receiving treatment after being badly burned in a fire at her London home.

Joseph O’Connor‘s 2010 novel, Ghost Light, is loosely based on Allgood’s relationship with Synge.


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Nanette Newman

Nanette Newman

Nanette Newman (Wikipedia)

Nanette Newman was born in 1934 & is an English actress and author. She appeared in nine films directed by her husband Bryan Forbes, including Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), The Whisperers (1967), Deadfall (1968), The Stepford Wives (1975) and International Velvet (1978) for which she won the Evening Standard Film Award for Best Actress. She was also nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for another Forbes directed film, The Raging Moon (1971).

Newman was born in NorthamptonNorthamptonshire, England. She was the daughter of a show business family – her father was reputed to be a circus strongman, and her mother was also in show business. In the 1940s, she lived in Pullman CourtStreatham Hill. She was educated at Sternhold College, the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts stage school and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Newman made her first screen appearance at age 11 in the 1945 short Here We Come Gathering: A Story of the Kentish Orchards. Her feature film debut as a teenager was in Personal Affairs released in 1953. There followed a number of period roles, including the heroine in The Wrong Box (1966); The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969); The Raging Moon(1971), as a young woman in a wheelchair and International Velvet (1978).

Newman married actor-writer-director Bryan Forbes in 1955. She acted with Forbes in The League of Gentlemen (1960), which Forbes also scripted, and went on to appear in most of the feature films that Forbes directed, including The L-Shaped Room (1962), Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), The Wrong Box (1966), The Whisperers (1967), Deadfall (1968), The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969), The Raging Moon (1971), The Stepford Wives (1975) and International Velvet (1978).

In his 1983 book Adventures in the Screen Trade, scriptwriter William Goldman was critical of the fact that Forbes cast his wife (then in her early forties) as Carol, one of the robotic spouses in The Stepford Wives, and revealed that it led to a major rift between them. In Goldman’s original script (of which, he claimed, about 75% was re-written by Forbes), the android replacement wives were meant to be like (Playboy) “Playmates come to life”, the acme of youth and beauty, dressed in skimpy tennis shorts and T-shirts. Although Goldman conceded that Newman was both a good actress and attractive, she clearly did not fit his conception of the part (“a sex bomb she isn’t”), and he objected to Forbes’ decision to change the appearance of the ‘wives’ (making them older, more demure and much more conservatively dressed), expressing the view that Newman’s casting “destroyed the reality of a story that was only precariously real to begin with”. Goldman also recounted his misgivings about casting an Englishwoman to play an American – although, in the event, Newman delivered a perfect accent, and few viewers would have realised she was not American.

Newman is from a variety background, acting on stage and also appearing in television advertisements, including for Fairy Liquid. She was also a popular regular panellist on a revival of the BBC panel game show What’s My Line? (1973–74).

She is the author of thirty children’s books and six cookery books; winning a Cookbook of the Year Award with The Summer Cookbook, and presented a children’s television cookery programme, Fun Food Factory (1976).

Newman met actor-writer-director Bryan Forbes in February 1954 on location at Marylebone railway shunting yards, while Forbes was co-starring in the film Wheel of Fate. Newman, then still at RADA, had been sent along for a job:

Newman and Forbes married on 27 August 1955, and had two daughters, Emma Forbes and Sarah Standing. They were married for 57 years, until Forbes’ death in 2013. In her first interview after Forbes’ death, Newman explained that one of the reasons they were able to keep their marriage together was Forbes’ rule that he always took his family with him if he was working overseas for any period longer than two weeks.

  • A good marriage is at least 80 per cent good luck in finding the right person at the right time. The rest is trust.


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Paul Hickey

Paul Hickey

Paul Hickey

Paul was born and grew up in Dublin. He studied and worked in Belfast and now lives in West London. You might recognise him from Dr Who, the multi BAFTA winning Three Girls or as Johno in the award winning Irish cop show Red Rock, now on the BBC.

Paul has worked extensively in British and Irish Theatre, including at the RSC and many appearances at both the Royal Court and the National Theatres. Film and TV includes, Fr Ted, Whitechapel, Dr Who, Red Rock, Inspector Lynley, Three Girls, Saving Private Ryan

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Siobhan Finneran

Siobhan Finneran
Siobhan Finneran

Siobhan Finneran (Wikipedia)

Siobhan Finneran was born in 1966 and is an English actress. She made her screen debut in the 1987 independent film Rita, Sue and Bob Too, and subsequently worked consistently in television drama including roles in Coronation Street, (1989–1990) Clocking Off (2000–02) and The Amazing Mrs Pritchard (2006). In 2005, Finneran originated the lead female role in the stage play On the Shore of the Wide World and was awarded the Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Also a comedy performer, Finneran appeared as a leading character in the first seven series of popular ITV sitcom Benidorm (2007–15).

Later television roles include portraying a lawyer in the mini-series Unforgiven (2009), an embittered servant in the first three series of the costume drama Downton Abbey (2010–12) and a recovering addict in Happy Valley (2014–present), for which she was nominated for the 2017 British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actress. Later film credits include Mrs Swift in the 2013 film release, The Selfish Giant, which earned her a British Independent Film Award nomination.

Finneran was born in Oldham, Lancashire on 27 April 1966 to Irish immigrant parents. As a child Finneran was always drawn to the performing arts and was a fan of the celebrated English comedian Eric Morecambe, recalling that “as a little girl I wanted to be Eric Morecambe. Not to be like him but to actually be him”.  After studying a theatre studies course, she was in cast in her first major role as Rita in the 1987 film Rita, Sue and Bob Too. Kate Muir, chief film critic at UK newspaper The Times described the characters of Rita and Sue —two teenagers who both have a sexual affair with the older, married Bob (George Costigan)— “as raunchy, cheeky, unstoppable schoolgirls played with relish by Siobhan Finneran and Michelle Holmes.  Between August 1989 and March 1990 Finneran appeared as factory employee Josie Phillips, in the long running ITV1 soap opera Coronation Street.  The character of Josie is best remembered for her on-off employment, and difficult relationship, with her boss, Mike Baldwin.

Finneran continued to appear regularly on UK television, making guest appearances in numerous drama series including Heartbeat(1993, 1994, 2003), Peak Practice (1995),  Out of the Blue (1996), Where The Heart Is (1997), Hetty Wainthrop Investigates (1998) and The Cops (1999). Finneran also established herself in comedic roles including episodes of Josie (a 1991 comedy series starring Josie Lawrence), Cannon and Balls Playhouse (1991)[17] and as a regularly appearing cast member in ITV1‘s production of The Russ Abbot Show (1995–96).  Whilst having performed frequently in comedy, Finneran credits her performance as “a very damaged mother” in Out of the Blue in 1996 in triggering a shift towards more dramatic roles. From the late 1990s Finneran began to consciously cut back her acting work to raise her two children as her husband, the actor Mark Jordon, (whom she married in August 1997) was regularly away from home filming as a series regular in Heartbeat.

Between 2000 and 2002 Finneran appeared as Julie O’Neill in three series of the BBC1 drama series Clocking Off.  Subsequent roles in the early 21st century include the ITV1 Russell T Davies drama series Bob & Rose (2001), Sparkhouse (2002) –a modern re-telling of Wuthering Heights scripted by Sally Wainwright– and the two-part thriller Passer By (2004) starring James Nesbitt. In 2005 Finneran appeared as the female lead, Alice Holmes, in the original stage production of On the Shore of the Wide World at the Royal Exchange, Manchester. Finneran’s performance earned her the Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. In 2006 Finneran was cast as a series regular in The Amazing Mrs Pritchard (2006). Her character, Beverley Clarke is an established partner in a law firm who is inspired to launch a career in politics by her experience of the titular Ros Pritchard, and ultimately becomes an MP.

In 2007 Finneran appeared as Kelly in the British Independent film Boy A. Also In 2007 Finneran appeared as part of the original regular cast in the British sitcom Benidorm which details the experiences of holidaymakers and employees at the fictional Solana hotel in Benidorm, Spain. Finneran described her character Janice Garvey as “feisty, foul-mouthed and quite fantastic”. Over the course of the series, Janice struggles to keep her family unit—comprising Janice’s mother Madge (Sheila Reid), her husband Mick (Steve Pemberton) and their own children and grandchild—under control. A television correspondent at the Sunday Mirror described the character as a “fiercely protective lioness, humorous, straight-talking, and saucy” inclined to “let-it-all-hang-out” with a wardrobe comprising “skimpy, mutton-dressed-as-lamb outfits”.  Finneran found elements of the shoot embarrassing — including the requirement to be filmed in swimwear— and one scene which involved her character “snogging” a young barman played by an actor in his early twenties.  In spite of the outlandish elements of the sitcom, Finneran notes that the cast “tried to find the truth in each character, to make them a real person – not a stereotype.” In 2008, Finneran explained that as the series was filmed on location in Benidorm, her parents stepped in to help with childcare back home, with the children visiting during half-term.

Finneran would ultimately remain with the series, through to its 7th series, which aired in 2015. Discussing the enduring appeal of the series in 2013, Finneran stated that the series’ fan base had become firmly established by the fourth series and that viewers were attracted to the “banter” and recognisable family dynamics that take viewers “to the extremes”.  She also felt that the contrasting summer setting and typical winter air date also provided a form of escapism for the UK audience. After discussing their intent to leave Benidorm during filming of the sixth series (2014), Pemberton and Finneran announced their join departures ahead of the 7th series (2015). Both actors wanted to spend less time filming abroad, and neither wanted to leave on their own. Finneran found filming her last scenes “heartbreaking” noting she was in “a terrible state” upon bidding farewell to co-stars and crew with whom she had forged a close relationship.

Alongside her role in Benidorm, Finneran continued to star in original drama series’. In 2008 she portrayed Sister Ruth, a Vatican nun drawn to investigate a priest who performs exorcisms, in five episodes of the supernatural thriller Apparitions.  In 2009 Finneran appeared as a main cast member in the three part ITV1 thriller Unforgiven as Izzie Ingram, a family lawyer who aids convicted murder Ruth Slater (Suranne Jones) track down her long lost sister. George Costigan, who appears in Unforgiven and first worked with Finneran in 1987 cited the mini-series as an illustration of Finneran’s versatility, and justification of his appraisal of her as an acting “hero” and personal inspiration, stating that “she has no background in it and she just goes there. It’s extraordinary. Those are the actors that electrify you.”[31] Also in 2009, Finneran appeared in episodes of The Street, and Blue Murder,  and the straight-to-DVD soap opera spin-off Coronation Street: Romanian Holiday. ‘She’s worked since she was probably 14 or 15 years old, and has basically sacrificed her entire life to somebody else, for the good of their life and their home — it’s no wonder that she would get frustrated or angry about things.” “

In 2010 it was announced that Finneran had been cast in Downton Abbey, a period drama depicting the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants. Upon its transmission, Downton Abbey received extensive critical acclaim, and strong viewing figures in both the UK and America.  Finneran’s character, lady’s maid Sarah O’Brien serves as an archetypal villain in the series’ narrative, whose schemes affect both her employers and her colleagues. The role was Finneran’s first in a costume drama. To become O’Brien, Finneran was required to wear “frumpy black” servants attire, a wig— which Finneran described as having “poodle curls” and “one bit [that is] proper bouffant” and spend around an hour in make-up each day to look less attractive.  Though screenwriter Julian Fellowes did not give her a backstory to work with, Finneran imagined that O’Brien was both traumatised by past experiences and, had accumulated anger, frustration and resentment issues from having worked in service all her life. In 2012 Finneran stated that she enjoyed the response to the character noting that viewers “love that she’s a nasty piece of work” and “love to dislike her”.

During her time on the show, the Downton Abbey cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2012 (for series 2), and were nominated also in 2013 (for series 3).  Finneran announced her departure in March 2013, ahead of the fourth series, explaining that she had been signed for only three series and did not wish to extend her contract, adding: “When I stop loving something, I stop doing it.” BbLater that year, when asked by the Radio Times how her character’s abrupt exit would be handled, Finneran retorted: “I’m hoping she’s flung off the roof of the Abbey”.

In 2013 Finneran starred in the second series of The Syndicate on BBC1, portraying Mandy, a hospital worker and domestic abuse victim who wins the national lottery with her colleagues. Finneran was attracted to the role because of the suspense of her character’s storyline, and the challenge of keeping the abuse scenes as true-to-life as possible.  Also in 2013, Finneran portrayed Mrs Swift in The Selfish Giant an independent film inspired by both Oscar Wilde‘s short story of the same name and screenwriter and director Clio Barnard‘s personal experiences of the socially fragmented northern English underclass.  Finneran’s character is a troubled yet loving mother, who she describes as “not quite the full shilling”.  In spite of the tough subject matter of the film Finneran enjoyed the filming process noting that she felt “safe and secure” in the hands of Barnard, who she felt to be a calmer director than any other she had worked with.  For her portrayal, Finneran was nominated for the 2013 British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2014, Finneran appeared in the French-Language film Un Illustre Inconnu (Nobody from Nowhere). In her private life, 2014 saw Finneran obtain a divorce her husband, Mark Jordan.[2]

Also in 2014, Finneran portrayed recovering heroin addict Clare in BBC One‘s Happy Valley—a crime drama that centres on the personal and occupational struggles faced by Clare’s cohabitant sister, sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire)—to general acclaim. Whilst eulogising the series’ feminist credentials Gerald O’Donovan of The Daily Telegraph praised Finneran’s “quietly compelling performance” and the character’s “gritty wisdom” and stated viewers were unlikely to witness “a more believably crafted female character” that year. A second series aired in 2016, which gave more focus to Clare’s backstory, interpersonal relationships and struggles with alcoholism. Reviewing an episode of the second series, Jack Seale of The Guardian described Finneran as “brilliant” in her depiction of both Clare’s “jittery vulnerability” and portrayal of “a snarling addict who has relapsed”. In spite of the series’ subject matter, Finneran claimed that as an inept cook, she found having to peel carrots and act simultaneously the hardest part of filming. She blamed being given a faulty vegetable peeler by the props team in having to “hack” at the vegetables and opined that the end result of filming “looks like I’m digging a hole in the road.

By the time of Happy Valley‘s second series, Finneran had known Lancashire for over 30 years. Both their on-screen partnership and the depiction of middle-aged women in general in Happy Valley have been lauded as two of the series’ most distinctive elements by television journalists and critics. Reflecting on the series’ popularity, Finneran stated she felt viewers had taken the show to their hearts because the cast “reflected them” and “looked like real human beings with authentic emotions and flaws”. Radio Timesreviewer Alison Graham stated in 2016 that Finneran and Lancashire “should share every acting award going”. Happy Valley won the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series in Both 2015 and 2017.  Finneran was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category in 2017.  Though correctly predicting that she would not win the award, Ben Lawrence of The Daily Telegraphidentified her as who he felt to be the deserving winner praising the “subtle, unfurling power” of her depiction. A third and final series of Happy Valley is expected to enter production, though not before Autumn 2018.

Between December 2014 and February 2015, Finneran appeared in the stage drama 3 Winters at the Royal National Theatre in London. In Autumn 2015 Finneran played a supporting role in the three part supernatural drama serial Midwinter of the Spirit.

In 2017, she portrayed real-life Detective Constable Christine Freeman in two-part drama The Moorside, a depiction of the 2008 disappearance of Shannon Matthews told from the perspective of the local community. Upon reading the script, Finneran felt that The Moorside told a necessary story that illuminated truths that had been distorted by media coverage.

Finneran’s next television role in 2017 was as Detective Chief Inspector Lauren Quigley, one of the protagonists in six-part ITV drama The Loch, a crime mystery set on the banks of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Quigley is an ambitious English career detective drafted in to investigate a serial killer and acts as a foil to the other protagonist, working mother and local woman DC Annie Redford (Laura Fraser). Finneran was keen to star in the series after reading the first three scripts and finding both her character and the small community setting intriguing, in addition to the prospect of working with a former Downton Abbey director (Brian Kelly) and Laura Fraser, whose acting she had long admired. Finneran based herself in Glasgow during the filming shoot and enjoyed “the buzz, the architecture, the social life”,describing the city as “one of my favourite places to ever work

In 2017, she played Nikki Kirkbright in ITV’s Cold Feet.

In 2018, Finneran played Becka Savage in the Doctor Who episode “The Witchfinders“.

In 2019 she played Sally Newell in The Widow episode “Poteza”.

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John Castle

John Castle

John Castle (Wikipedia)

John Castle was born in 1940) and is an English retired actor. He is best known for playing Bill in Blowup (1966) and Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter (1968). His other notable credits include Man of La Mancha (1972) and RoboCop 3 (1993).

Born in Croydon, Castle was educated at Brighton College and Trinity College, Dublin, and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

Castle’s first appearance was as Westmoreland on stage in Henry V on 5 June 1964, at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park. His first Broadway theatre appearance was in February 1970, as Jos in the short-lived musical Georgy.

In 1967 he made his screen debut as the plotting Prince Geoffrey in the big-screen adaptation of The Lion in Winter. The role garnered him much praise and set him on his way as a supporting actor in London and Hollywood. According to Rotten Tomatoes, The Lion in Winter is Castle’s “highest-rated” film.  Also in 1967, he appeared in the British TV Series, The Prisoner as Number 12, a sympathetic guardian in the episode, entitled “The General”.

Castle played the role of Octavius Caesar in Charlton Heston‘s poorly reviewed version of Antony and Cleopatra (1972).

Castle appeared as Carruthers, the most honourable of a trio of schemers in an episode of Granada Television‘s series Sherlock Holmes(“The Solitary Cyclist”, 1984). His association with Sherlock Holmes continued with his role as Nigel St Clair in the film version of The Crucifer of Blood (1991).

He played Inspector Craddock in an adaptation of the Agatha Christie story “A Murder is Announced” (1985), arole he recreated in the Miss Marple mystery The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (1992). He also played the title role in the 2000 made-for-TV version of Christie’s Lord Edgware Dies. In 1990 Castle starred as Superintendent George Thorne in the BBC’s radio adaptations of John Penn’s novels. Castle appeared in other TV series, including I ClaudiusBen Hall, and Lost Empires.

Among Castle’s stage performances was his role as Oswald in the Royal Shakespeare Company‘s revival of Ibsen’s Ghosts in 1967, with Dame Peggy Ashcroft as Oswald’s mother Mrs Alving and Gandhi in the play Gandhi at the Tricycle theatre London.

Castle is married to writer Maggie Wadey.


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Janina Faye

Janina Faye

Janina Faye (Wikipedia)

Janina Faye was born in 1948 and is an English actress and director. She is a daughter of Florence Louisa Jonathan and Jan Smigielski. Her father was a Polish pilot from No. 303 Squadron RAF during the Battle of Britain.

She began her career as an actress in 1956 and includes theatre and television work in addition to many film appearances. In 1961 she appeared as Helen Keller in the William Gibson play, The Miracle Worker.  In 1962 she appeared as Anne in the thriller Don’t Talk to Strange Men. In 1971, she appeared in an episode of Doctor at Large. She appeared in several major fantasy and horror filmswhen she was very young, such as Hammer Films‘ original version of Dracula (1958), Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960) and The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960).

In 1998, she teamed up with director Paul Cotgrove and Hammer co-star Ingrid Pitt to make the short British horror film Green Fingers, a story about a woman whose garden has strange properties with an ability to grow anything, even things that are no longer living.

She often appears at signings.

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Charlie De Melo

Charlie De Melo

Charlie De Melo stars in “Coronation Street”.