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   Inside Out - South: Monday February 27, 2006

Double life of theatre's Walter Mitty

Theatre production
All the world's a double life... Inside Out investigates

Inside Out South unmasks a theatrical fraudster.

Using wigs, stage make-up and a variety of costumes, Jessica Maynard has pretended to be at least eight different people - including a pair of twins.

And the female Walter Mitty has used her false identities to cheat the Arts Council and the National Lottery out of thousands of pounds.

Inside Out shows how the Romsey woman also left a trail of debts around the country.

Twin lives

Jessica Maynard started her career as a theatre officer with the Southern Arts Board in Winchester in 2001.

Her job was to administer grants to theatre companies, but she also paid a grant to herself using the alias Kat Mallory.

Jessica Maynard as Chess Eliot
Double exposure - Jessica Maynard as 'Chess Eliot'

The Arts Council provided the BBC with copies of the fraudulent grant application.

A spokesperson said:

"We felt it important to give what information we could to the Inside Out team in order to help bring this story to the attention of the general public."

In 2003, Ms Maynard moved to Burton upon Trent and started using the names Claire and Chess Eliot from the Journeyman Theatre Company.

The "twins" told staff at the Brewhouse Theatre that they wanted to put on a play called Desperately Seeking Jake Roverton.

The play was about a woman who uses a false identity to become a Hollywood producer.

Claire and Chess worked at the Brewhouse for several months but staff became suspicious because they were never seen together.


Ms Maynard eventually admitted that Claire and Chess were invented characters, and claimed that her real name was Denise Bryan.

The play was abandoned and she was asked to leave.

Jessica Maynard
Another identity - Jessica Maynard as 'Denise Bryan'

A year, later Ms Maynard arrived in Sheffield to promote the UK tour of a play called Picture Perfect.

The play was really just a rewrite of the Burton play, Desperately Seeking Jake Roverton.

She used the alias Rebecca Perry of Dreamweavers Theatre Company to get grants of almost £5,000 from the National Lottery Awards For All Scheme and £3,000 from the Arts Council.

The tour had only just started when she was again confronted by suspicious actors.

She left Sheffield leaving debts of £7,500.

Plan B

In 2005, she worked in Bristol using the name Alison Kennedy from Plan B Theatre Company.

She called her play Holding out for a Hero, but it was another rewrite of the two earlier plays. Once again, the Arts Council and the National Lottery were duped into giving grants.

Jessica Maynard as 'Alison Kennedy'
Double take - Jessica Maynard as 'Alison Kennedy'

This time the tour actually went ahead, but she later disappeared leaving thousands of pounds of debts.

Nigel Jones, of the actors' union Equity, says his members have been tricked by Ms Maynard on numerous occasions:

"One of our members said she initially thought she was misguided and incompetent.

"She now realises she is malicious and dangerous.

"Her advice was that performers should not put themselves in the position she was in. We would endorse that advice."

Mythic Dreams

Some actors have also been registered as directors of Ms Maynard's theatre companies without their consent.

Sara Brooks
Duped - Sara Brooks was outraged by the deception

Sara Brooks was outraged when she discovered she had been made a director of the Mythic Dreams Theatre Company.

She says, "I have no words to describe how I feel about her. She is just a complete and utter fraud."

Inside Out gave Jessica Maynard written details of all the programme's allegations, but she said she had not been given enough information or time to respond.

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Queen Mary

Queen Mary in Southampton
The Queen Mary - the grandest ocean liner ever built

Could the Queen Mary be coming home?

Inside Out look at an ambitious plan to bring one of our most famous ships back to its home port.

In October 1967, Southampton waved goodbye to the liner the Queen Mary as she made her final voyage after 35 long years at sea.

She was heading to Long Beach, California to spend her retirement as a floating hotel, conference centre and tourist attraction.

But after 39 years in Long Beach, this grand old lady of the sea is now facing an uncertain future.

The US company that leases and operates her owes millions of dollars in rent to Long Beach City Council and has gone into bankruptcy.

The Queen Mary's fate will be decided in the next couple of months by an American judge.

Bringing the ship back home?

Back in Hampshire, a businessman is already making plans to buy the Queen Mary if she is put up for sale.


1926 - Cunard Line plans new super liners to replace the Mauretania, Aquitania and Berengaria on its North Atlantic route.

December, 1930 - Work on Job 534 (later known as Queen Mary) starts at John Brown Shipyard on the Clyde.

June, 1931 - Work begins on new Southampton dry dock.

December, 1931 - Work halted on Queen Mary due to the Depression. Already the ship stands nine stories high.

July, 1933 - The King George V Graving Dock is opened - the largest in the world.

April, 1934 - Construction resumes on Queen Mary.

September, 1934 - The Queen Mary is launched and named by Her Majesty Queen Mary.

April, 1936 - Dry docked at Southampton's King George V Graving Dock.

May, 1936 - maiden voyage. Becomes hostess to the world's rich and famous - Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, David Niven, Mary Pickford.

World War II - transformed into a troopship.

September, 1967 - Retires from regular passenger service.

December, 1967 - Arrives Long Beach, USA.

Roger Hardingham was born and bred on the Hamble and has always loved the Queen Mary.

He tells the programme about his first trip aboard:

"I put my foot forward off the gang plank and onto the Queen Mary and that was just an incredible moment for me. I mean it was tear-jerking to be quite honest."

Roger thinks the Queen Mary would be a major tourist attraction if he could tow the ship back to Southampton.

"What I'm trying to do is get the will of the people, the will of Southampton and the will of the port authority to want to do this and all the other thousands of people in the local area and the whole of the UK who want to see her back."

But the plan is fraught with difficulties as the Queen Mary hasn't moved for nearly 30 years.

Her engines have been stripped so she would have to be towed on a hazardous journey around Cape Horn.

Mike Gray from Lloyd's List says the ship would not survive the trip:

"I think it's a lovely idea but I don't think it's got a cat in hell's chance of coming off.

"Wouldn't it be better to spend a few million and make a facility where people can actually have shipping explained to them? That would make sense rather than lugging back an old wreck from the furthest ends of the earth with tremendous risk of it sinking."

Even if she did make the long journey back to Southampton, the question still remains as to where she could go.

At the moment, Roger doesn't have a berth as neither Southampton City Council nor Associated British Ports is backing his scheme.

Maritime memories

Keith Hamilton has lived in Southampton all of his life. He worked on the Queen Mary as a young boy and remembers what it was like when she was in dock:

"When she was in port it was almost as if there was a ship berthed in the High Street, it was just huge.

"I remember as a small boy walking along the Quayside, it was this vast wall and there was this incredible activity and the buzz of excitement with luggage coming off and cars being craned on."

Roger still remains confident that his dream can be realised and that he can raise the money needed to bring the Queen Mary home.

"It does sound completely mad, but I'm a determined person. I would probably sell everything I've got if it meant bringing the Queen Mary back to Southampton," he says.

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Guido restored
Fabulous fresco restored to its former glory

Inside Out follows the remarkable restoration of an Italian fresco and the scandal which led to it being abandoned in a very English country house.

The fresco was bought by William John Bankes who inherited the Dorset estate of Kingston Lacy in 1835.

William was a Conservative MP, an artist and a great collector - the sort of man who thought nothing of bringing back a priceless obelisk from Egypt as an ornament for his garden.

He was also incredibly rich - even without his inheritance he had an income of half a million pounds a year.

Once he owned Kingston Lacy he set about filling it with treasures and transforming it into his ideal home.

In 1841 he bought a huge Italian fresco by the artist Guido Reni.

It was called The Separation of Night and Day, and shows the figure of Dawn dividing a female figure of Night from a male figure of Day.

It was originally painted onto the wet plaster ceiling of a Bolognese palazzo in 1599.

Somehow it was sliced off that ceiling, put onto a canvas backing and transported to Kingston Lacy.

This was an incredibly risky operation which the fresco was lucky to survive!

But William never had a chance to enjoy his fresco or see it in his home.

Life in exile

Shortly after he bought it a great tragedy happened in his life.

He was caught in a state of undress with a guardsman in a London Park.

Not only was homosexuality illegal in 1841, it could lead to the death penalty.

Restoring the fresco
Labour of love - restoration of the fresco

He had no choice but to flee the country leaving all his assets, his house and his beloved fresco behind.

Despite being in exile the restoration of his house remained his lifelong passion and he continued to issue orders and send hundreds of treasures back to it, many of which remain in storage today.

No one knows where he intended the fresco to go and it was probably stored for years until his descendents put it up on the library ceiling.

When the National Trust acquired the house in 1982 both the library and the fresco were in a terrible state.

Yet again the fresco was taken down from a ceiling and put into store until enough money was raised for its restoration.

Painstaking restoration

Inside Out followed the £100,000 year long restoration process.

Two conservators Alan Bush and Jonathan Berry had to painstakingly remove the oil paint which had been put on by previous generations in an attempt to preserve the fresco.

Lifting the fresco
Tense moment - lifting up the fresco

Along with decades of dust and dirt they had hidden the brilliant colours and fresh quality of a fresco painting.

Their work also revealed how damaged the painting had become which meant they had to carefully repaint sections of the huge canvas.

The final part of the restoration was perhaps the most scary.

The fresco had to be rolled up, driven back to Kingston Lacy and then put back on the library ceiling.

Inside Out was there to see just how they did it and to capture the first pictures of the fresco in place.

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