six and a half years on Eastenders, Patsy Palmer became a household
name as feisty young redhead Bianca. After leaving the popular soap,
she went on to star in TV series like McCready and Daughter before
moving into the theatre.
can currently be seen the lead role in Stepping Out - an award-winning
comedy, written by Richard Harris, which revolves around the lives
and loves of an assortment of ladies and one rather shy gentleman.
Gloucestershire caught up with Patsy for a chat about her life and
her current play, Stepping Out...
to the press release from Stepping Out you're Britain's best loved
actress. How does that feel?
only it were true! Funnily enough I get recognised all the time
and I very rarely get people being horrible. People just want to
give me a hug and say 'can I give you a kiss?' so it must be true.
Maybe they've done their statistics. It's quite nice though.
it's one of those things where you became an icon with the Eastenders
I hope so, that'd be nice! I might be able to do something good
if I've become an icon. Like Jamie Oliver, I'm very impressed with
all this stuff [Jamie's Dinners] that he's doing at the moment.
I do suppose it gives you that luxury that if you do become somebody
that everyone knows then you can really get down and think 'what
can I do to make a difference?. It must be fantastic to be able
to do that.
about food, when you're on tour do you tend to eat rubbish because
you've got such limited time?
I'm quite lucky, I tend to stay in quite nice hotels. I'm quite
lucky in that respect that I can do that. I love healthy food and
it's true what they say - your state of mind is a whole lot better
where you're eating proper food. It's such a big influence on the
stuff we do, and especially for me working on Stepping Out because
it's quite hard with the work that we do - you're using up so much
energy, you're burning up so much nervous energy on stage as well,
that if you're not eating the right stuff you become quite ill.
attracted to the comedy Stepping Out?
been working in the theatre for the past two and a half years, and
I've just finished a play in the West End called 'We Happy Few'.
It was really great, it went on a short run - only six weeks - and
I came out of that and said 'no more theatre for a while'. It was
because of the kids and, because we were moving, they were settling
into their new school. Then I was asked if I would do Stepping Out
and I said no, I didn't even want to know what it was. It could
have been Hollywood for all I cared - I was like 'no, I'm not doing
it'. It was always in the back of my mind, am I doing the right
time crept on and it was still there for me to do it. The kids were
settling into school and it was kinda like 'oh, this is still there'.
They came back to me and asked if I would like to do it, would you
read it. I said okay I'll read it, I never saw the film.
a friend of mine called me - she was actually my understudy in 'Tell
Me On A Sunday' - and asked me what I was up to. I told her I'd
just turned down a job. She asked 'what is it?' and I said 'Stepping
Out'. She told me it's hilarious. I though 'this is a sign' and
she's phoned me out of the blue, and I haven't seen her for a while
- maybe I should think about this.
the script, absolutely hilarious and I thought I really want to
have a go of this. I hadn't tap-danced since I was a little kid.
the story of Stepping Out about?
about a girl who runs a dance class in a church hall in north London.
Her name's Mavis Turner and from the story you see glimpses from
the lives of the people who come to the class. There's all these
wonderful, colourful characters who come to this class, and they
come there for a bit of release. They have a really nice time, they're
trying to learn to tap dance at the beginning and they're horrendous.
they just get better and better. In the end they pull it off and
get fantastic. The audience reaction is brilliant. The audience
reaction in Cheltenham was one of the best in the run. They were
with us the whole way through and it just bounces along. This show
is for us as much as it is for the audience. The theatre just fills
up, it's great - they really feel as though they're part of the
dancing - was it difficult to get back into it?
really. We had only a couple of weeks rehearsal as you do with a
Bill Kenwright show, he takes no prisoners. He knows what's he's
doing and, funnily enough, it's always enough time. It's the right
time because you've then got weeks and weeks to get better. It's
amazing how much you pick up - like a sponge when you were a kid
- because I didn't continue the tap dancing, I just stopped.
did you first start wanting to act?
in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat when I was six in the West
End for three years. I fell into that by accident - I just went
along with my brother, I wasn't meant to be in the audition and
I ended up in the show, in the chorus. Then somebody told my Mum
about a drama school in Islington. It was a drama school for parents
who couldn't afford to send their kids to full-time stage school.
We didn't have the money to do that. I went along there, waited
a couple of years to get in, and still wanted to do it.
first TV was The Gentle Touch with Gill Gascoigne. Then I was in
Grange Hill and just loads of other TV work too. That was how I
thought actors work, - I really enjoyed my life as an actress, I
had plenty of free time with my mates and I had a child quite young
too so it gave me a little bit of money every now and then to go
on holiday. That's what I thought life was about.
turned everything completely on its head and it was a whole different
experience. Six and a half years. I wouldn't change it for the world
but there were certain things about it that I'm glad I saw then because
in certain aspects I'm a lot happier now. I feel more grounded. I've
got my family and work's just something that you do.
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