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You are in: Norfolk > Entertainment > Arts, Film & Culture > Film, TV & Animation > An audience with Maureen Lipman

Maureen Lipman

Maureen Lipman

An audience with Maureen Lipman

Actress and author Maureen Lipman gives a webTV interview to BBC Norfolk during her visit to Norwich's Assembly House in which she presented an evening on her life and work, with readings from her late husband Jack Rosenthal's autobiography.

The acclaimed dramatist Jack Rosenthal wrote his autobiography as only he could - as a screenplay. Completed by his wife Maureen Lipman after his death, it is a warm tribute to a much-loved man.

It follows Jack from his birth in 1930s' Manchester, through school, evacuation, university and the Navy, to his career as one of the UK's finest writers of social comedy.

Along the way, it captures the excitement of the early days of Granada – where he met his future wife, Maureen Lipman.

It tells of the first broadcast of Coronation Street, for which Jack wrote more than 100 episodes, the trials and tribulations of Broadway and Hollywood, the joys of family life and, finally, the illness which was to claim his life.

Jack Rosenthal

Jack Rosenthal

"He never finished it. He wrote six decades and it's all a screenplay with him as the central character," said Maureen Lipman speaking to BBC Radio Norfolk.

"After six decades, he got to the '90s and said 'I'm not going to do this any more'.

"I said 'Why?' and he said, 'Nobody is going to want to read this, my life's not that interesting'.

"Maybe he just felt the last decade perhaps was a little trying. It was also so difficult to get a single play on television in the '90s," she added.

Maureen Lipman admits that finishing Jack's autobiography was therapeutic.

"I suppose it was in the end. I had about eight months when I didn't really do anything. I went to America and Ethiopia. I did a few odd things and then I thought, I've got to get on with it," she said.

"I tried to write as he had, written as a play. But I did find that difficult, so in the end I threw in the towel and I had to finish the part about him in prose – which is what I did," she added.

Jack Rosenthal's Last Act

A poignant, funny and insightful dramatisation of six decades of his life, his daughter, Amy Rosenthal, has now adapted the work for BBC Radio 4.

Amy Rosenthal, Stephen Mangan and Maureen Lipman

Cast from Jack Rosenthal's Last Act

Stephen Mangan plays Jack and Maureen Lipman plays herself in Jack Rosenthal's Last Act - the story of a devoted family man, amateur sculptor, self-taught violinist, ardent Manchester United fan and award-winning author of over 150 screenplays.

"The play was adapted for radio by our daughter Amy and people have found it moving and evocative. It's a unique piece of work," said Maureen Lipman.

"The central character is played by an actor and everybody else… well I'm playing myself and Amy is playing my mother! It's an interesting piece of work and seems to have gone down very well.

"There's a destiny, it had to be written and out there and people to identify very much with a working class lad who makes good," she added.

Doctor Who: The Idiot's Lantern

Maureen Lipman spent the early part of this year in Glorious at London's Duchess Theatre, London - playing the role of Florence Foster Jenkins, the greatest diva and the one called 'the diva of din'.

Whilst the show kept her busy, it was during the run that the call came to see the Doctor and record her role of The Wire, for an episode called The Idiot's Lantern.

Maureen Lipman as The Wire in Doctor Who

Maureen Lipman as The Wire in Doctor Who

"I did it all on a Sunday, on my one day off from doing Glorious," said Maureen.

"It was filmed at Alexandra Palace, which is about four minutes from my home, that was the biggest treat of all!

"Of course, I didn't meet any of the other actors as it was all done digitally. It was just me, the writer, the director and the camera – I had to image all my victims when I was sucking their face off!

"One of them [her godchildren] left the room in anguish and the other rang me and said it was brilliant," she added.

Maureen Lipman performed at The Assembly House, Norwich on Friday, 17 July, 2006.

Jack Rosenthal's Last Act can be heard on Monday morning's at 11.30 on BBC Radio 4 until Monday 31 July, 2006.

last updated: 20/09/07

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