JENNY AGUT­TER talks to HELLO! about her fifty year ca­reer, re­ceiv­ing an OBE and what we can ex­pect from the eighth se­ries of Call the Mid­wife

Hello! Middle East - - THIS WEEK -

She has been act­ing for over half a cen­tury hav­ing kick-started her ca­reer with a role in East of Su­dan, aged just 11, fol­lowed by be­ing cast as Roberta in 1970’s The Rail­way Chil­dren -- and since then it’s been non-stop for Jenny Agut­ter.

The ele­gant, softly-spo­ken British ac­tress’s ré­sumé is a clear in­di­ca­tor of just how mul­ti­tal­ented she is hav­ing had star­ring roles on both tele­vi­sion and the big screen.

But the 66-year-old plays down her suc­cess, de­spite win­ning an Emmy Award for her part in the TV film The Snow Goose, hav­ing a glit­ter­ing Hol­ly­wood ca­reer that saw her play Jes­sica along­side Far­rah Fawcett’s Holly in Lo­gan’s Run and be­ing awarded an OBE for her tire­less char­ity work.

The Equus star is back on our TV screens repris­ing her role as Sis­ter Juli­enne in the eighth se­ries of British TV drama Call the Mid­wife, which pre­mieres on BBC First (OSN chan­nel 215) on Jan­uary 13 and which is set to stir up all the usual emo­tions as the peo­ple of Po­plar get ready to face 1964.

We catch up with the hum­ble, mod­est star to dis­cuss grow­ing up abroad, her love of travel and to find out what’s in store for the nuns and mid­wives of Non­na­tus House.

You started your act­ing ca­reer so young, was it hard be­ing a child star?

I was at a bal­let school and au­di­tioned for a part in a film for Walt Dis­ney about the Royal Dan­ish bal­let. Whilst I was au­di­tion­ing for that I got a part in East of Su­dan with Sylvia Simms; the main rea­son I was cast in that was be­cause I was light and she had to carry me around a lot! That was the be­gin­ning of it all – not so much of a star re­ally, although they made me feel like a star. It was ter­ri­bly ex­cit­ing. From then on I did things off and on. The first thing that made an im­pres­sion was when I did The Rail­way Chil­dren.

You lived abroad for part of your child­hood?

We lived in Sin­ga­pore for three years be­fore head­ing back to the UK. Whilst I was there we vis­ited Hong Kong and Malaysia. I went to school there and my first mem­o­ries are of life in Sin­ga­pore ac­tu­ally.

Do you look back fondly on your time as an ex­pat child?

The trav­el­ling was a com­pletely pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. I ab­so­lutely love to travel. I love find­ing out about dif­fer­ent cul­tures and am so lucky to have that army back­ground, which meant I got to travel a lot.

When my fa­ther left the army we lived in Cyprus for eight years, which was a bit like My Fam­ily and Other An­i­mals, very Ger­ald Dur­rell re­ally. I got my love of dif­fer­ent cul­tures from my par­ents -- my mother was

British, born in Liver­pool and one of 10 in an Ir­ish fam­ily, Dad was an only child from York­shire. My mum in par­tic­u­lar en­joyed ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures and learn­ing about their food. I got that en­thu­si­asm for go­ing places and meet­ing peo­ple from her.

Call the Mid­wife has been hailed as the BBC’s most suc­cess­ful drama, did you imag­ine it would be such a huge suc­cess?

No, not at all. I saw the won­der­ful scripts, but I sup­pose I didn’t re­ally quite see the power of it. Jen­nifer Worth’s mem­oirs had been hugely suc­cess­ful and I think that gave it the im­pe­tus in the be­gin­ning, and then Heidi Thomas wrote re­ally great scripts and sto­ries. She is a very good sto­ry­teller. I al­ways thought that would be it, af­ter se­ries one, you know, nuns and mid­wives, tell that story, done, but it had a huge au­di­ence.

Then she started to go be­yond Jen­nifer Worth’s sto­ries, work­ing with re­searchers and go­ing from 1958 into the six­ties. Each year would bring huge change that in­flu­enced the peo­ple of Po­plar. There were med­i­cal ad­vances, changes in at­ti­tudes, skirts get­ting shorter -- though not for the nuns! 1964 was much more af­flu­ent than 1958 and more peo­ple were choos­ing hospi­tal births.

And dur­ing all of that you have dealt with some pretty con­tro­ver­sial his­tor­i­cal med­i­cal is­sues…

Yes, one of the big ones was the sto­ry­line about thalido­mide and their dis­cov­ery of what it was, of its link to what was thought to be a be­nign medicine at the time given to stave of nausea and morn­ing sick­ness in preg­nant women.

There are some se­ri­ously emo­tional scenes, par­tic­u­larly those in­volv­ing new born ba­bies…

If you are do­ing a child­birth scene it’s very hard not to be emo­tional when there are lit­tle ba­bies on the set. Their moth­ers are there and you get im­mersed in do­ing the scenes very qui­etly. That can be in­cred­i­bly emo­tional. And we are put into won­der­ful sit­u­a­tions work­ing with guest ac­tors so you can’t help but be touched by some of the things that you are in­volved in on set.

Your role as Sis­ter Juli­enne is a car­ing one and quite non-judg­men­tal, but you have some fairly wild chil­dren to look af­ter such as Trixie, played by He­len Ge­orge… do you feel at all moth­erly with the rest of the cast?

It’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing. We have a re­ally eclec­tic group of peo­ple – some are older, some are younger, with dif­fer­ent sorts of train­ing, peo­ple from mu­si­cal back­grounds... I don’t have for­mal train­ing at all apart from life ex­pe­ri­ences.

We all just en­joy each other’s com­pany and I’m not sure there’s any­one who can say: “Well my ex­pe­ri­ence puts me in a po­si­tion where I can ac­tu­ally show every­one what it’s all about.”

The in­dus­try has changed so much that the rel­e­vance of my pre­vi­ous work – it was black and white TV, there were huge great cam­eras be­ing lum­bered around set -- is barely ex­is­tent. There is so much to learn from younger peo­ple be­cause they all bring some­thing ter­rific, so I can’t re­ally be a moth­erly fig­ure.

Are you as good friends off set as on?

We are all very close and re­ally en­joy each other’s com­pany. He­len is a very good com­mu­ni­ca­tor and keeps in touch with every­one. Some­body ac­tu­ally ar­ranged for us all to go and see Linda [Linda Bas­sett who plays Nurse Crane] in the Royal Court when she was per­form­ing there.

What’s in store for the ladies of Non­na­tus House in se­ries eight?

We have to deal with the af­ter­math of Bar­bara’s death, which is hard be­cause there are pic­tures of her ev­ery­where! It’s hard to lose some­one. New nuns come in. Miriam Mar­golyes joins us as Sis­ter Mil­dred, a very un­usual nun. Fenella

The cast are to­gether for an eighth se­ries (above), but it all started when Jenny was cast aged 17 in The Rail­wayChil­dren (mid­dle inset). The ac­tress at the BFI Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val with a slew of stars in­clud­ing Bill Nighy, Ro­mola Garai and David Ten­nant(bot­tom left)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.