Last May I left the Late Show on BBC Radio Leeds, Sheffield and York and returned to my roots in Cleveland. Although I was born in Warwickshire (my dad was a semi professional footballer for Nuneaton FC)my parents, Anne and Bill returned to their roots in Co. Durham and moved to Peterlee when I was 3.
When I was 10 my dad got a job at ICI Billingham and we moved down the A19 to Billingham. We loved it there and were very happy. Sadly mum and dad are no longer with us…how they would have loved being able to hear me on their local radio station (how I would have had to watch what I said!) BBC Radio Cleveland is the happiest place I have ever worked,I felt at home within days..
I still miss the Late show, however, and get loads of letters and emails from listeners who also seem to miss it. Since I started working daytime, I haven’t had the chance to do very much acting work and it’s been mainly the ‘not so glam’ stuff that I have done. Voiceovers, corporate work, training videos. All of which, of course, is the day to day life of most actors and then, now and again, if you’re dead lucky a nice bit of telly comes your way …..
I appeared in ‘Bodies’ for Hat Trick productions on BBC Three and Two. It was very gritty and gory .If you saw it you will know why it wasn’t my most glamorous role. It starred Keith Allen, Max Beesley and Patrick Baladi. It was challenging but great fun . Probably the most thrilling experience was to work with the wonderful Peter Kay in Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere(Brenda Vickers- dithery waitress in last episode) Peter is all you’d hoped he’d be. Funny ,courteous, generous and talented.
In 2001, I was a regular presenter on the Well-being Channel’s ‘Girls Talk’ Satellite television’s answer to Live Talk. It was great fun and gave me the chance to work with many talented women; Jenny Powell, Nina Myscow, Toyah Wilcox, Coleen Nolan – Coleen is lovely and we became great pal – Girls Talk also introduced me to some fantastic directors and producers…all of whom moved on when the channel was closed down during changes at Granada. The most important thing for me about Girls Talk was that I met the wonderful Jenni Trent Hughes who has become one of my best friends and her wit and wisdom has been a great source of strength.
I was a guest on many of Granada Breeze’s programmes over recent years ‘Well Woman’ (presenters Caryn Franklin and Yvette Fielding) ‘Perfect Parenting’ (Sharron Davies) and ‘The Edge’ (the fabulous Terry Christian, who is such a nice guy).
Yorkshire Television’s Tonight programme was a great chance for me to appear and produce a number of strands including ‘Friends’ and ‘Family Matters’.
For BBC 2, I presented a series called ‘Year of the Pier’ – which involved me and the crew doing a whistle stop tour of 6 British seaside resorts in 6 days, in a heat wave! Hectic but great fun!
I have done a lot of voiceover work and was very lucky to be asked to do the narration for the Channel 5 documentary series ‘A and E’ filmed at the Leeds General Infirmary and directed by local lad and former Emmerdale star, Cy Chadwick, now a successful director.
As an actress, I have appeared in Coronation Street, Byker Grove, Spender, Harry and many other TV dramas; but my longest stint was in Emmerdale when I played Jean Strickland, Head teacher of Hotten Comprehensive.. a character who first appeared to tie in with the Rachel/Graham storyline (you do remember! He pushed her off a cliff)! Anyway, eventually after walking up many flights of stairs with piles of books, many confrontations with lovely Viv (Deena Payne – a really lovely actress who has a figure to die for and was so sweet to me in my early days on the show) and many moments with Andy Sugden (lovely lad, great practical joker and a fantastic actor who will go far). Poor old Jean Strickland was dispatched to her maker in September 2001 after being hit and run whilst unaccountably walking down a deserted country road, in the same direction as the traffic, in camouflage gear, in the early hours of the morning. . . . What a way to go! The scene when the body was rolled over was shown, incredibly, at 7pm on September 11th 2001 – the only piece of normal programming that terrible night. Surreal enough to witness your own death, but made even more scary by the shocking events of that day…………….
Alex Hall and Daniel McPhersonIn 1995, a documentary about my late night Phone-in on The Pulse radio station in Bradford featured as part of the Network First series. John Thirlwell, the director painted a powerful picture as he told the tale of several callers. The single father of twin teenage girls unsure of how he should deal with their developing sexuality. The young woman facing death after years of alcohol abuse and the lovely old lady who found the programme a lifeline when her karaoke nights were over. It was good stuff and was much acclaimed in the media, particularly the broadsheets, although Victor Lewis Smith referred to me as having a range of ‘simpering soap queen expressions’. Well, you’d worry about him saying anything nice about you , wouldn’t you?
Although I have done lots of theatre work, radio commitments have prevented me from treading the boards as much as I would like, but I have managed to fit in a couple of pantomimes.. Two years ago, I played dippy Fairy Molly in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax.. here’s a photo of me and my very good looking co-star Daniel MacPherson, formerly of Neighbours. This was Daniel’s first panto and he was a great hit and loved it.!He has appeared in panto regularly since and, according to my spies, is shortly to appear in The Bill as their first Aussie copper! Daniel is a lovely lad and fame has not gone to his head. During the run of the panto I spent some time with his dad, who is a really genuine character. The family is very important to Daniel and when he is over here at Christmas usually one or all of them manages to come over and visit.
Currently? Well, as a consequence of the Late Show, I am caught up in a lots of things and I shall post them here as and when. I have made a start on The Novel ‘You Don’t Half Get Some Nutters’ which naturally draws heavily on my phone-in experiences but fear not, if you’re in it (and if you ever called me you could be), at this rate it will be 2036 before I get past Chapter 4!
I love writing and used to do a column for the Bradford Telegraph and Argus (I shall post a few sample columns for you to peruse) and would like to do another regular column for a local newspaper.
I do lots of after-lunch and after-dinner speaking engagements, which gives me the chance to engage in three of my favourite pastimes; eating, drinking and talking whilst getting paid!