My first ever professional job: as Delilah in Jimmy McGovern's The Lakes, pictured here with Kaye Wragg. I had four lines - well, words - "Yeah", "Yeah", "No" and "Pig", but as I played the best friend of the leading lady, wherever she went I was somewhere in the shot behind! I filmed up in the beautiful Lake District for three months and was able to watch and learn how things work in the magical world of TV. 

Learning to milk a cow as Marian the dairy maid in Tess of the D'Urbevilles.  

With John Nettles in my first Midsomer Murders.  If I look a little unwell, it's because I'm wearing green corpse make up.  The actor Jeremy Clyde killed me by running me over in his Jeep, then injecting me with tobacco to make sure the job was a good'un. Years later, we worked together again on The Girls.  He apologised. 

As Martha the maid in A Christmas Carol, with Patrick Stewart as Ebeneezer Scrooge. You can see how star struck I was!

From R-L, Alex McIntosh, Joanna Scanlan, Gerry McNulty, Paul Rider and me, playing alongside Dawn French and her fabulous Bottom! I was Snout the Mechanical. Here I am as Wall in the the play within the play, Pyramus and Thisbe, complete with pigeon on my head. Oh! The glamour!

As Fanny Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby, with Gregor Fisher and Pam Ferris as pa and ma. My little brother, played by Chris Roebuck, is now married with children and edits music videos.

As a member of the D'Oyly Carte chorus in costume for The Mikado in the brilliant biopic of Gilbert and Sullivan, Topsy Turvy.  When you work with Mike Leigh, you have to choose your own character.  Mine was called Ethel Kingsley. She smoked a pipe and had a pet rat called Gladstone.  To date, I have never worked with Mike Leigh since.

In the dressing room during Mother Clap's Molly House, in which I played Mary Cranton, an alcoholic, lesbian, syphillitic lady of the night. That theatre was haunted, and one day I stood up to go on stage and my corset fell off.  The ghost had pulled all the laces out of it.  True story. Spooky and saucy!

Three plays. From L-R: As shrewish Fatima in Aladdin at Bristol Old Vic, as Marybeth (overjoyed to be playing the Virgin Mary!) in the National's A Prayer for Owen Meany and as bible-bashing Maribel in Crooked at The Bush.

You get to wear the best costumes in panto! Oh yes you do! As the Wicked Stepmother in Cinderella (L) and in Dick Whittington as a mid-flight Fairy Bow Bells (R)

Two publicity stills for Russell T. Davis' Mine All Mine, with a cast that included Griff Rhys Jones, Ruth Madoc and Joanna Page.  I pretended to be Welsh in the audition. Cheeky - but I got the job!

The DVD and CD covers for The Smoking Room.  Most of us lied and said we were smokers in the audition, but the two of us - naming no names! -who really were actually went out during breaks in filming to have a cigarette!

"Verbatim" theatre uses the real words spoken by real people. The actors listen to the audio live and repeat the dialogue, well, verbatim, a split second afterwards, complete with stutters, coughs, repetitions etc.  It's a fascinating way to work (plus, you don't have to learn any lines!) and I'm lucky enough to have done it twice.  In the photos from those two productions below, can you see our headphones?

L-R Jennie Stoller, Kerry Shale, Tom Secretan and me in Listen, We're Family at Wilton's Music Hall

Two shots from The Girlfriend Experience, the true life story of a group of working girls.  

Above: Esther Coles (L) and Beatie Edney (R) dress me up in my spanking gloves.  

Below: I'm really not looking forward to my next customer.

L-R Jennie Stoller, Kerry Shale, Tom Secretan and me in Listen, We're Family at Wilton's Music Hall

A few higly attractive characters from Bob Mortimer's sketch show Tittybangbang, starring the fabulous Lucy Montgomery, Tony Way and Rhys Thomas among others.

 

Calendar Girls

Various Cast Photos

 

Since 2009, I have been incredibly privileged to have appeared several times over in the play Calendar Girls based on the amazing true story of a group of WI ladies who have so far raised £4million from their nude calendar.

 

Fellow cast members have included Lynda Bellingham, Jan Harvey, June Watson, Michelle Collins, Letitia Dean, Kelly Brook, Ruth Madoc, Helen Lederer, Julie Goodyear, Rula Lenska and Camilla Dallerup. 

Scroll down to see how this inspiring tale has now become a musical!

 

Yes, it's the Doctor Who Christmas Special 2007!  With David Tennant AND Kylie Minogue!!! On the left, I am being filmed falling feet first into a fiery pit to save the Doctor and the planet.  On the right, I am being filmed falling face first into a bowl of trifle. 

And below, from one dream job to another - Sherlock. These photos are for you, Cumberbitches! 

                                                                 

                                                And now for some more glamorous roles:

                           

         Above, as psychopathic kidnapper of poor Dr Jimmy, Sissy Juggins in                                                                 Doctors

 

Below, in Psychoville, as one half of the Crabtree conjoined twins with Alison Lintott   (I'm 5 inches shorter than Alison, so I had to wear stilettos while she                                                             wore flats!)

 

And right, as Amunta a.k.a The Speckled PomPom in This is Jinsy.  Wool from                                                  head to toe! Toasty!

Remember the MP's expenses scandal? The Duck House put the whole farce on stage - literally!  I played Ben Miller MP's Russian housekeeper Ludmilla.

As three different incarnations in Holby City!

 

From L-R above:

 

Mr Griffin operated on me in 2002 (btw - D.O.B. 1968??? Cheek!)...

...failing to convince Jac Naylor (Rosie Marcel) as hypochondriac Colette Barnes in 2013...

...but returning in 2014 to replace Mr Griffin when he went on sabbatical, as surgeon Fleur Fanshawe, pictured above right with her girlfriend Sophia (played by Nina Toussaint-White) and left with Rob Ostlere as Arthur Digby and a rather fabulously gory pair of prosthetic legs.

Most of the time in showbiz, you're filming in a freezing cold industrial estate in the middle of nowhere.  But on these three lovely jobs, I got to travel to Paris, Croatia (which doubled for 19th century Russia in the film The Duel) and Malta.  Here I am in You, Me and The Apocalypse with Rob Lowe! Swoon!!!

From Sky 1's Agatha Raisin: The Walkers of Dembley. My character was a rather nasty piece of work who, I'm sorry to say, almost deserved to be hit on the head with a shovel and left for dead in a haystack. 

Recently I've been lucky enough to be asked by Waterstone's to interview some of the amazing authors who come to do in store talks. Here I am with the gorgeous Jessie Burton, who wrote phenomenal best seller The Miniaturist, interviewing her about her latest novel The Muse and with US author Ryan Gattis, talking about his brilliant All Involved. I really love it - getting to read the book before anyone else, doing all the research on both story and author, and meeting an excited audience of avid book readers!  Move over, Jeremy Paxman!

Singing at the Marlborough Jazz Festival 2016, the fifth year I've been invited to perform there.  It's such a cool town! Over the years, my pianist James Harpham and I have played in a hotel, in a restaurant, in a pub and in a marquee during a Force 9 gale. This year we were in the gorgeous gallery room upstairs at the White Horse Bookshop. 

What a gorgeous set by BAFTA winner Fotini Dimou! This was a very rarely performed Tennessee Williams play called A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, which Laura Rogers, Hermione Gulliford, Julia Watson and I performed at the stunning Print Room Theatre in Notting Hill.

Photos by Catherine Cormack

The Girls Musical, written by Tim Firth based on his own film and play Calendar Girls and with music by Gary Barlow, opened first at the Leeds Grand Theatre and Manchester Lowry in 2016.  In February 2017, it opened at The Phoenix Theatre in London's West End and garnered rave reviews, nightly standing ovations and Olivier Award Nominations for Debbie and the other 5 leading ladies. The cast made appearances on Strictly Come Dancing, The Royal Variety Show and The Olivers Ceremony and have recorded a cast album which is due for release soon.  It's an incredibly special and inspiring show, and it will be going on a 2 year UK tour from August 2018.

This website has been created and is maintained by Abe Myrtle © 2016