Felicity Kendal

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Duration: 1 hour

Mark Lawson talks to Felicity Kendal about her childhood in India and returning to the UK in the 1960s to become one of the best-loved actors of her generation. In a career that has spanned over six decades, she talks about travelling through the Far East with her family's classical theatre company, her hugely popular role in the BBC TV series The Good Life and her subsequent award-winning theatre work. Kendal also talks candidly about her private life, including how she coped with tabloid headlines when her relationship with Tom Stoppard came under media scrutiny.

Kendal left full-time education aged 12 to join her family's theatre company, first appearing on stage with them as a baby. Her big break came aged 18 when she appeared in Shakespeare Wallah, the second film from the director/producer duo Merchant Ivory. She returned to England, but found the British acting world difficult to break into. "I came to England green with no qualifications having not been to drama school, so shock horror how could you possibly act".

Roles opposite Sir John Gielgud in the BBC's The Wednesday Play and Alan Ackybourn's The Norman Conquests eventually followed. Richard Briers then asked her to play his wife in a small sitcom that he thought would be great fun to do but wouldn't get many viewers - The Good Life. Four decades on, the show is still seen as comedy gold and continues to be screened around the world and Kendal's work in TV has continued alongside her highly successful theatre career.

  • Actress Felicity Kendal

    Actress Felicity Kendal

    Felicity Kendal is best known to the nation as playing Barbara Good in the hugely popular sitcom The Good Life, in which she plays the supportive wife to Tom, standing by his decision to quit work and become self-sufficient.

    Felicity Ann Kendal was born in Warwickshire in 1946, before moving to India with her family where her parents ran a touring company that performed Shakespeare plays. At the age of twelve Felicity gave up on her education and became a full time member of the company, playing the role of Puck in a production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

    It was her role in the film Shakespeare Wallah however that gave Felicity her big break, which is loosely based on her family’s story. Felicity later returned to England with the dream of attending drama school but found the industry hard to break into. After a number of stage appearances and TV roles, including The Mayfly and the Frog with John Gielgud, Felicity’s big break came in 1975 in the BBC sitcom The Good Life.

    After seeing Felicity Kendal in a theatre production, Richard Briers took her The Good Life scripts to read. The combined desire to work with Briers and the brilliant writing left Felicity with little doubt over her acceptance to take the role of Barbara Good. The show was a massive success for the BBC and ran for three years, resulting in Felicity becoming a household name.

    Felicity went on to star in a number of other BBC sitcoms including Solo, The Mistress and Honey for Tea. She also enjoyed a prestigious stage career during this time, appearing in many of Tom Stoppard’s plays.

    Felicity has an extensive credit list to her name including Indian Ink, Humble Boy, The Camomile Lawn, Rosemary & Thyme, Doctor Who and also stared in the 2010 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Credits

Presenter
Mark Lawson
Interviewed Guest
Felicity Kendal
Executive Producer
Eamon Hardy
Producer
Anya Saunders
Director
Anya Saunders
Producer
Nicola Seare
Director
Nicola Seare

Broadcasts

Mark Lawson Talks To...Mark Lawson

Mark Lawson Talks To...Mark Lawson

The broadcaster interviews himself about the art of the celebrity interview.

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