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.
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.