|Caught in the Net|
Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage
25-29 October 2005
Thurs & Sat Mat: 2:30pm
Cast includes: Trevor Bannister, (ARE YOU BEING SERVED?), Jeffrey Holland (HI-DE-HI! YOU RANG, M’LORD? and OH, DR.BEECHING!),
Judy Buxton (ON THE UP), Julie Buckfield (HOLLYOAKS).
The omnibus of the Channel 4 teen soap Hollyoaks fills that aching gap between the Sunday morning Premiership highlights and the afternoon's big match, so as a bit of a fan, I was delighted to talk to Julie Buckfield, who appeared in the very first episode and has done two stints in the show.
However, while Julie's television career started at a young age in the Disney Club and Grange Hill, before moving onto the Hollyoaks' role for which she is probably best known, she is also a seasoned stage actress, making her theatrical debut as Young Eponine in Les Miserables in the West End.
She is currently on tour with Ray Cooney's "Caught in the Net" the sequel to his massively popular "Run For Your Wife" which enjoyed a highly successful nine year run in various theatres in the West End. However, it's important to say that no knowledge of events in "Run For Your Wife" is needed to enjoy this comedy which is complete within itself.
"Caught in the Net" finds our bigamist taxi-driver, John Smith, still keeping both his families (one in Wimbledon and one in Streatham) happy and blissfully unaware of each other until the wonders of modern technology threaten to upset everything as Julie explained.
"John Smith has two families with a daughter by one wife and a son with the other" she revealed.
"But the daughter Vicky, who I play, and the son, meet on the Internet and discover the co-incidences in our lives and arrange to meet. But John finds out and does everything in his power to stop us.
"It's typical farce" she added. "Just lie after lie in an incredible situation."
Doors and telephones
|Julie Buckfield with sister Claire in Grange Hill|
Ray Cooney is probably the king of modern British popular farce and because of this has often been the butt of "Oops vicar, where are my trousers" jibes, and the insinuation that somehow it wasn't "art". But the fact remains that audiences absolutely adore it and "Caught in the Net" has all the classic hallmarks that we know and love.
"Yes - there's lots of doors and telephones" laughed Julie. "It's only one set but there are two houses on it so there's a lot going on!
"It is what it is - so just go along and expect a laugh. It's joke after joke with things that would never happen in real life but that's what farce is all about.
"It's pure comedy, you won't stop laughing."
Julie said also revealed that she is looking forward to coming to Stevenage and that she does enjoy touring.
"I like Stevenage" she said. "The crew are fantastic so I'm really looking forward to it. And I live in North London so I can commute and it means more of my friends and relatives can come and see it.
"I do enjoy touring" she added. "A lot of my friends say "how can you live out of a suitcase all the time?" And yes you do - but you know that's the case when you sign the contract.
"And I've played some great places. We were recently in Poole and didn't have any midweek matinees. The weather was lovely so we spent all day on the beach and then just did our couple of hours work in the evening.
"And we get paid for it - so yes I enjoy touring and it's live theatre which keeps you on your toes."
Julie, now 29, plays 16-year-old Vicky and I remarked that I would be absolutely delighted if I could get away with looking 13 years younger than I was. Julie revealed that she has always been perceived as younger than she is and while it was really annoying at an earlier age, she's now delighted.
"I wear school uniform in the play and have pigtails which helps but I've always played younger than my age" she explained.
"When I was 21 and was buying something like a bottle of wine and was asked for my ID I used to get annoyed. I'm 29 now and still get asked for my ID but now I'm delighted.
"They see my ID and say "I'm really sorry" but I just say "don't apologise, you've made my day"!"
Julie also has an identical twin who you will probably also have seen on TV - although as Julie explained, you probably just think they are one and the same. Many comedy lovers will have seen Claire Buckfield in 2 Point 4 children and she also played Julie's twin sister in Grange Hill - a bit of a stretch I know!
Identical twins in the same business can obviously cause problems, although as Julie revealed - not between the sisters!
"There's the old thing of people thinking you're the other one but the most common thing is that people think there's only one of us" she laughed.
"People come up to me and say "are you the girl from 2 Point 4 children" and I say "no that's my twin sister", but then people think you're being rude and fobbing them off!
"The same thing happens to Claire - she gets asked if she was in Hollyoaks. Sometimes I just say "yes that was me", to be polite!"
Julie, who lives with her sister in North London, describes the pair as being like "Hinge and Brackett" and says that both being in the same business has never caused them problems.
"Sometimes we go for the same part but we have different agents and as long as one of us gets it that's OK" she said. "We are competitive but not with each other but we've both been very lucky in our work."
Of course, Julie's best-known work is probably as Julie Matthews in Hollyoaks. She appeared in the very first episode and stayed in the show for two years before making a dramatic exit, jilting Nick Pickard’s character Tony at the altar.
Such was the popularity of her character, she returned in 2002, with her character though transformed from the “girl next door” into a scheming bitch, swindling Tony. Nevertheless she says that a further return is unlikely, although she will be joining her old colleagues plus the latest stars of the show very soon!
"I don't know how they could bring me back again" she said. "I went back before and turned into a bit of a bitch so they've done that!
"But the 10th anniversary is coming up soon and there's a party. I was in the first episode and when I got the invite I thought I couldn't believe it had been ten years. So a few of us are going to the party in Liverpool and it's during a week's break in touring so it's ideal.
"I don't really get a chance to watch it now though - unless I'm still in bed on a Sunday morning and I flick the TV on" she added.
Don't we all?!