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Sheena Larkin

 

Born Belfast 1944

 

Unfailing and inspirited Canadian based character actor, long established on both stage and screen, whose career to date has almost exclusively been played out in North America. Ironically she made her debut in the final production of Harold Goldblatt’s itinerant and occasional Ulster Theatre Company, which for the duration of it’s existence in the mid to late sixties was in effect a conduit for old Group Players reunions.

A short term contract as a continuity announcer with Ulster Television circa 1970, preceded a move to Quebec, where she initially found work as an English language teacher in a French speaking school. Later she complimented her little stage experience with local repertory companies in Quebec and Montreal. Early engagements included a Noel Coward season at the Piggery Theatre Quebec in 1973 and the same year in her first film role, played Estelle McDonald in director Larry Kent’s romantic comedy ‘Keep it in the Family’, starring fading Hollywood star John Gavin. However any screen ambitions from this point were frozen until the end of the decade, but she did find steady employment in theatre, which included a splendid Mrs Cobb in Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Trumpets and Drums’, an adaptation of George Farquhar’s early 18th century comedy ‘The Recruiting Officer’, at Stratford Ontario in 1975.

Other highlights were her role as Lady Mulligan in Tennessee Williams’ ‘Camino Real’ at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and a supporting credit as Mazeppa in the musical ‘Gypsy’ for the Atlantic Theatre Company, both 1977. A belated big screen opportunity came with an ideal casting as Irish immigrant Elsie, in director Eric Till’s mid 19th century rural Canada set ‘The Newcomers’ 1979, which set the tone for a busy, if low-key screen run throughout the eighties. Her more noteworthy efforts during this time were writer/director Max Fischer’s drama ‘Killing ’em Softly’ 1982, ‘Cross Country’ 1983, the 1986 television mini-series ‘Spearfield’s Daughter’ 1986 and as Aunt Elsa in director Allan Eastman’s comedy drama ‘Crazy Moon’ 1987.

By the nineties she had established herself as a reliable screen utility player, finding work readily in a variety of genres and began the new decade with prominent Montreal stage roles in Vittorio Rossi’s ‘Scarpone’ at the Centaur Theatre and Dominic Champagne’s ‘Playing Bare/La Repetition at the Street People Theatre, both 1990. A minor role in writer/director Jacques Dorfman’s adventure drama ‘Shadow of the Wolf’ 1992, was followed by yet another shocking story of abuse perpetrated by religious orders , ‘The Boys of St Vincent’s: 15 Years Later’ On television between 1992/94 she made numerous appearances in different guises in the teen fantasy horror series ‘Are You Afraid Of The Dark’ and had a subtle little cameo as Mrs Mintz in David Price’s comedy horror film ‘Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde’ 1995.

A helter skelter period then ensued, evenly distributed between film and television, with roles both marginal and consequential. She played Lacie in Sydney J. Furie’s thriller ‘Hollow Point’ 1996, Lugene Brooks in Paul Schrader’s mystery drama ‘Affliction’ 1997, starring Nick Nolte and had a subsidiary interest in Bruce Neibaur’s minor award winning ‘The Ghosts of Dickens Past’ 1998. Other big screen appearances at the end of the nineties included the true life drama ‘The Sleep Room’ 1998, ‘When Justice Falls’ 1999 and on television had a recurrent role as Mrs Bowles in the multi- award winning, early 20th century set series, ‘Emily of New Moon’ 1998/99. She had no problem securing work on screen into the new millennium, but due to the regularity of offers her theatre involvement was seriously reduced.

Roles such as Mrs Baron in Richard Roy’s Romantic comedy ‘Café Ole’ 2000, Blind Annie in Robert Moresco’s crime thriller ‘One Eyed King’ 2001 and Pam Lathrop in Phil Alden Robinson’s ‘The Sum of All Fears’ in 2002 would all look good in the character gallery of her expanding CV. She returned to the Stratford Ontario Shakespeare Festival in 2004, taking the role of Weird Sister/Witch in director John Wood’s traditional production of ‘Macbeth’, which suffered from a loose central performance by Festival stalwart Graham Abbey. Two co-starring roles on television in 2007, as Sarah in the mini-series ‘Killer Wave’ and Beverley Rowe in David Winning’s witless horror ‘Black Swarm’, were followed by a scant period of screen work from 2011, and amounted to low-key guest appearances in three routine television series.  This underscored the statement of Sheena Larkin’s career, an able actor whose luck always stopped short of a major breakthrough.

 

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Film

– Visiting Hours (1982)

– A Single Regret (1983)

– For Hire (1997)

– The Ultimate Weapon (1997)

– Sublet (1998)

– Babel (1999)

– Isn’t She Great (2000)

– Two Thousand and None (2000)

 

TV

– Miles to Go (1986)

– Starting From Scratch (1988)

– Urban Angel (1991)

– Hiroshima (1995)

– Space Cases (1996)

– The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo (1998)

– The Hunger (1998/99)

– All Souls (2001)

– Mystery Ink (2003)

– Haven(2011)

– Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt(2012)

 

Megan (Mary Anderson) Latimer

Born Belfast 26th July 1909

Died Hendon, Middlesex 27th December 1988

Functional but committed stage player, active from the mid-thirties and who acquitted herself creditably in a number of modest television roles in the rudimentary years of the late forties/fifties and into the flourishing age of the sixties.

She had an early chance to shine in Robins Millar’s three act comedy ‘Franz Liszt’, performed by the Theatre de Monte Carlo in 1935. In 1938, then with the Alexandra Theatre Repertory Company in Birmingham, she took another leading role in Emlyn Williams’ thriller, ‘A Murder Has Been Arranged’.

The following year, and two months before war was declared, she played Amy Brandon in Hugh Walpole’s drama ‘The Cathedral’, presented at the Intimate Theatre, Palmers Green , London.

She was busy during the immediate war years, appearing in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, an open-air theatre production in Regent’s Park, London in 1940 and touring with a decent company in Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ in 1941.

In her television debut in 1947, a laboured adaptation of ‘Rebecca’, she was Maxim de Winter’s older sister Beatrice Lacy, in a cast which featured Michael Hordern as the tortured hero. That same year she had only incidental interest in playwright Josephine Tey’s televised historical drama, ‘Richard of Bordeaux, starring Andrew Osborn as the eponymous king.

A supporting credit in a major West End play at the end of the forties, saw her as a Country Woman in George Farquhar’s early 18th century comedy ‘The Beaux Stratagem’, which enjoyed a long run at the Lyric Theatre from June 1949 and starred husband and wife, John Clements, who also directed and Kay Hammond.

She returned to television in 1951, in the comedy/drama ‘The Concert’ and made irregular appearances on the small screen throughout the 1950s. Notable among these were her Madame de Stael, influential author and nemesis of Napoleon in ‘Juniper Hall’ 1956 and the warm hearted Mrs Bagnet in Constance Cox’s accomplished adaptation of ‘Bleak House’ in 1959.

On stage in that period she was a much travelled trouper, taking roles in ‘The Clockwork House’ at the Leatherhead Theatre, Surrey and ‘Frou Frou’ at Bristol Hippodrome, both 1956. In 1957 at the Pitlochry Theatre Festival in Perthshire, she was cast in the pivotal role of Marie Larisch in R.F. Delderhead’s factual drama ‘The Mayerling Affair’and was back again in 1958 for Ena Lamont Stewart’s ‘The Heir to Ardmally’.

Infrequent work on television in the 1960’s was of little significance, likewise her theatre engagements, with the exception of writer David Butler’s suspense thriller ‘Person Unknown’, at the Grand Theatre, Leeds in 1963 and starring stage and screen luminary Anna Neagle. A penultimate screen sighting was as Maitre Miret in an episode of Ted Willis’ courtroom drama series ‘Crime of Passion’ in 1970. Megan Latimer was by and large a second tier character actor, whose career neither peaked nor troughed, but who was consistently more comfortable on stage.

Other Theatre and TV credits:

Theatre

-Skylark(1941) King’s Theatre Edinburgh

-Murder Happens(1947) Arts Theatre, Ipswich

TV

-BBC Sunday-Night Theatre(1952)

-Whistle for Silence(1954)

-Saturday Playhouse(1958)

-Boyd QC(1960)

-Seven Deadly Sins(1967)

-Ukridge(1968)

-ITV Saturday Night Theatre(1969/72)

 

 

Charles Lawson

Born Enniskillen 17th September 1959

 

Forever remembered by’ Coronation Street ‘ aficionados as blustering Jim McDonald, the choleric motor mechanic, who for over ten years grappled with a multitude of storylines on the imperishable soap, from the Autumn of 1989 until December 2000. A Guildhall School of Music and Drama graduate in the late seventies, he later found gainful employment with the National Theatre, RSC, English Shakespeare and Hull Truck Companies.

His first television appearances were in 1982, in the dual roles of Dossie Wright/Maxwell Cox in Stewart Parker’s ‘Joyce in June’, which was followed by an even smaller part as Seamus Duffryn in the excellent ‘Harry’s Game’ and in the same year made his uncredited film debut in writer/director Edward Bennett’s ‘Ascendancy ‘. His first consequential stage work was with the RSC at Stratford, beginning in 1982 with ‘ Henry VIII ‘ and into 1983 with  ‘Julius Caesar ‘, ‘ The Comedy of Errors ‘ and ‘ Volpone ‘. Further work with the RSC in 1984  involved a month in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, reprising more or less the plays of the previous years. He was a peripheral player  in Mike Leigh’s 1985 television play ‘Four Days in July’, in a strong Ulster cast, which included among others, Brid Brennan, John Hewitt and Des McAleer. Back o, stage in 1986 he was in two high profile productions, appearing at the Old Vic in ‘ Henry IV Parts One and Two’ and ‘ Henry V ‘ at the Theatre Royal, Bath and had his first taste of television comedy that year in Carla Lane’s top rated series ‘Bread’.

He continued to work steadily on stage and television until the 1989 ‘ Coronation Street ‘ role that was to shape his career for the next ten years. After his departure from Corrie he secured only guest roles in television series such as ‘The Bill’ 2002 and ‘Holby City’ 2003 and in between was part of the big Irish cast assembled for Terence Ryan’s film adaptation of Spike Milligan’s surreal comic novel ‘Puckoon’. He cocooned himself once again in the comfort of soaps, with the more regular role of Bill McQueen in the medical series ‘Doctors’ 2003 and on stage in 2005 he demonstrated his versatility when playing Buffalo Bill in the touring musical ‘Annie Get Your Gun’. In a cameo role that year he appeared as Soldier F in Nicholas Kent’s award winning, ‘Bloody Sunday, Scenes from the Saville Enquiry’ at the Tricycle Theatre Kilburn. Following a break from theatre he returned with a credible performance as the shambolic, weary college professor Frank Bryant in a decent revival of  Willy Russell’s ‘ Educating Rita ‘ staged at the Citizens Theatre Glasgow in 2009. He rejoined the cast of  ‘ Coronation Street ‘  in 2011, after an absence of eleven years, save a handful of brief sightings since 2003, assuming his previous role, but in a reduced capacity.

Charles Lawson’s style, comfortably nurtured through the English system, has arguably diminished his ethnic stage potential. More roles such as his Charlie (Now) in the touring production of Hugh Leonard’s ‘Da’ during 2006, could have given him the appetite to leave his mark in Irish Theatre.

 

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

– The Murderers (1985) NT Cottesloe Theatre, London

– Rain Man(2009) Tour

 

Film

– Wilt ( 1989)

 

TV

– The Firm (1988)

– The Bill (2002)

– Dalziel and Pascoe (2004)

– Casualty (2006)

– Murder By Appointment (2008)

– Coronation Street (2008 Return)

– Brotherhood(2015)

 

 

Michael Legge

Born Newry 11th December 1978

Expressive and personable but not yet conspicuous leading man, who as a schoolboy in Newry in the early nineties, appeared in a number of amateur productions encouraged by drama coach Sean Hollywood, former mentor of another Newry born actor, Gerard Murphy. He was eighteen when he made his professional acting debut as Amanda Burton’s son John Willis, in Graham Reid’s absorbing television play of post ceasefire, paramilitary soul searching, ‘The Precious Blood’ 1996. More low key film and television work followed until his breakthrough in Alan Parker’s 1999 film of author Frank McCourt’s biographical ‘Angela’s Ashes’, in which he played the writer as a young adult.

He was natural and nerveless in his first London stage appearance, playing Stephen Hammerton in the Almeida Theatre Company’s production of Nicholas Wright’s 17th century set comedy/drama, ‘Cressida’ at the Noel Coward Theatre in 1999. In 2001, at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre, he proved an excellent, insular Pete, in David Harrower’s ‘Presence,’ a fictional account of a Liverpool pop group in early sixties Hamburg and directed by James Kerr. A year later  he attracted further positive attention as Maksim in Vassily Sigarev’s modern Russian tragedy ‘Plasticine’, performed as a promenade piece, again at the Jerwood Theatre.

In the estimable Limerick set film ‘Cowboys and Angels’ 2003, writer/director David Gleason’s sympathetic treatment of young males in a crisis of identity, he produced a beautifully observed performance as Shane, the straight and vulnerable flatmate of gay fashion student Vince, played to perfection by Allen Leech. He was kept busy during 2004, with a Brian Friel play ‘Winners’ at the Young Vic and several television projects, including the Irish produced drama series ‘The Big Bow Wow’ and the multi award winning television film ‘Omagh’. In 2005 he took the leading role of Will Parry in Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’, a National Theatre production on the Olivier stage and the following year on the National’s Cottesloe stage he was in resplendent form playing gay waiter Aurek in Samuel Adamson’s fraught comedy ‘Southwark Fair’.

In 2008 he was an enthusiastic, if a trifle old Jim Hawkins, opposite West End newcomer Keith Allen’s largely leashed Long John Silver, in a quasi-panto adaptation of ‘ Treasure Island ‘ at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. On television during 2007/09, he appeared as the ardent Irish republican police constable, Tom O’Leary, in the hugely successful pitch black comedy series, ‘ Shameless ‘.

Two years later he was cast as Tipper Malone, voice of disaffected youth on the planet Carpathia, in the rather bland television adaptation of Ben Richards’ sci-fi drama, ‘ Outcasts ‘. A rare Dublin stage appearance saw him as Philip, in Joseph O’Connor’s adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s romantic drama ‘My Cousin Rachel’, presented at the Gate Theatre in 2012.

Significant screen roles from 2012 were a scarcity and produced only one worthy of mention, an also- starring credit in the thriller ‘Tower Block’, released in 2012. The situation was rescued only by his authoritative performance as the sharp-witted George Milton, guardian of Lennie Small, in director Roxana Silbert’s adaptation of Steinbeck’s classic, American depression set, ‘Of Mice and Men’, at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 2014.  Michael Legge’s career, with luck, should flourish with the passing years and as such will indubitably include a fair body of quality work, he is an example of a new breed of Irish actor who has resolutely shunned the culture of stereotype which due to prevailing circumstances has been much too readily acceptable through the generations.

 

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Film

– The Bachelor Weekend(2013)

Theatre

– Habeas Corpus (2003)Waltham Theatre, London.

 

TV

– Dream Team (1997)

– On Home Ground (2002)

– London Irish(2013)

 

 

Will Leighton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born Belfast 9th March 1908

Died Surrey, England 3rd May 2001

Weathered and unfeigned character actor, long on the London stage and an occasional player in the early, live BBC television productions broadcast in the late thirties from Alexandra Palace.

He joined Eileen Thorndike’s London based Embassy Theatre School of Acting in 1934, appearing in a number of plays between 1934/36. A notable role was Creon, ruler of Corinth, in an adaptation of Euripides ‘Medea’, performed at the Tavistock Little Theatre, London in 1935. High profile work in 1936 included his Joe Stevens in Henry C. James’ comedy ‘A Golden Gander’ at the Embassy Theatre, Sir William Lenthall in ‘Stubble Before Swords’ at the Globe and Second Clown in Thomas Dekker’s ‘The Witch of Edmonton’, staged at the Old Vic and starring Edith Evans.

He made his screen debut as a servant in director Dallas Bower’s BBC commissioned, contemporary dress version of Julius Caesar in 1938 and later that year, again with the BBC, took an uncredited role in the tragedy, ‘The Ascent of F6’, directed by Royston Morley. Three further televised plays in 1939 saw him working with Dallas Bower again, taking the role of Nathaniel in ‘Katharine and Petruchio’, David Garrick’s reworking of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, featuring Margaretta Scott and Belfast born Austin Trevor.

He then played Detective Snow in John Galsworthy’s comedy ‘The Silver Box’ and in his final appearance in the BBC’s experimental period, aired six weeks before WW2, he was land official Hugh O’Neill, in an adaptation of Rutherford Mayne’s rural Irish drama, ‘Bridge Head’.

He was largely unfortunate in securing any significant stage work during the 1940’s, but was part of Donald Wolfit’s Shakespearean ensemble, gathered for a season at the Bedford Theatre, Camden during January/May 1949.

In 1951 Tyrone Guthrie cast him in three London staged, Northern Ireland Festival Company productions, all with a strong Group Theatre representation. Submitted as the province’s contribution to the Festival of Britain, they were George Shiels’ biting comedy ‘The Passing Day’ at the Ambassadors Theatre, John D. Stewart’s hard-boiled drama, ‘Danger Men Working’ and Charles Shadwell’s comedy, ‘The Sham Prince’, adapted by Jack Loudan, both presented at the Lyric, Hammersmith. He collaborated with Guthrie a year later, taking the role of faithful servant Flavius in Shakespeare’s ‘Timon of Athens’, which opened at the Old Vic in May 1952, with a large cast including Leo McKern as Apemantus and Andre Morell as Timon.

His first screen work for almost thirteen years was a low-key credit in Vivian Milroy’s family drama, ‘The Princess and the Pea’, a television film transmitted in 1952, followed by another bit-part in director Rex Tucker’s series ‘The Three Musketeers’ in 1954.

Stage appearances during the mid to late 1950’s were negligible, indeed the only consequential work he found was as Father Rochus Lieberman in Fritz Hochwalder’s compelling melodrama, ‘The Strong Are Lonely’ at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1955, which produced powerful performances from lead actors Donald Wolfit and Peter Vaughan. He reprised the role in Adrian Waller’s BBC ‘Sunday Night Theatre’ adaptation, aired in June 1956, with Wolfit again as the martyr priest, Alfonzo Fernandez.

Other limited work on television in the early 1960’s preceded a short spell with Birmingham Rep in 1964/65, during which he appeared in Brendan Behan’s tragicomedy ‘The Quare Fellow’, directed by Ronald Eyre in 1964. A year later he had a co-starring credit as Armand Fontanelle in Steve Passeur’s macabre comedy, ‘A Measure of Cruelty’, which featured among others, Wendy Hiller and Jeremy Brett.

His most noteworthy television appearances in the 1960’s were arguably his recurring role as Ivanov in Ivan Turgenev’s social comedy, ‘A Poor Gentleman’ in 1965 and his dual roles as Throgmorton/Messop, in Clemence Dane’s mini-series ‘Broome Stages’ in 1966.

In 1969 he was offered an ineffectual part in writer/director Jim O’Connolly’s crime caper feature, ‘Crooks and Coronets’ and for the next three years made further modest appearances on television, until a more regular role as valorous soldier, Tikhon, in director John Davies’ mini-series ‘War and Peace’ in 1972.

The remainder of the seventies produced nothing of note on screen, although he did enjoy a degree of success as shopkeeper Gordon Turner on BBC Radio 2’s daily soap ‘Waggoner’s Walk’, a part he sustained from the early seventies until it’s surprising demise in 1980.

A cameo as undead victim, Joseph, in writer/director John Landis’ Oscar winning, 1981 comedy/horror film, ‘An American Werewolf in London’ marked the beginning of the end of his functional screen career, which came to an unemphatic conclusion in 1985. Will Leighton was a reliable stage actor, who for periods flirted with success, but unfortunately was not afforded the opportunities on screen, his proficiency plainly deserved.

 

Other TV credits:

-The Laughing Lady(1955)

-Alibi Children(1955)

-Charlesworth(1959)

-Sunday Night Play(1960)

-No Hiding Place(1963)

-Softly Softly(1968)

-The Six Wives of Henry VIII(1970)

-Never Mind the Quality

-Feel the Width(1970)

-Bless This House(1973)

-All Creatures Great and Small(1978)

-Tales of the Unexpected(1979)

-Playhouse(1980)

-Macbeth(1983)

 

Michael Liebmann

 

Born Michigan USA 28th July 1969

* Included due to a life-time contribution to local stage and screen.

 

Enterprising and collected character player, who first experienced the magic of the stage aged fourteen, taking the role of the Artful Dodger in the Lyric Theatre’s Christmas pantomime, ‘Oliver Twist’ in 1983. He returned to the Lyric the following year, making a decent fist, considering his age, of Banquo’s mild mannered son, Fleance, in director Patrick Sanford’s imperfect production of ‘Macbeth’, in a cast featuring an unfortunately constricted John Hewitt as the ill-fated king.

Four years later and after his formal education, he made his television debut as Ronnie Dodd, one of a group of young aspiring footballers, under the watchful eye of Ray McAnally’s wily, avuncular ‘Scout’ of the title, in Danny Boyle’s 1987 television play, more than loosely based on the legendary Manchester United talent spotter, Bob Bishop. Further television appearances that year included peripheral involvement in two RTE productions, ‘The Black Knight’ and ‘Lapsed Catholics’, which if nothing else, marked a propitious beginning to his legitimate professional career.

A sterner test awaited him on his next visit to the Lyric, when cast as the adolescent in WB Yeats’ reflective two-hander ‘Purgatory’ in 1988. Shortly after this he enrolled for a two year course at the London Theatre School, emerging in 1990 to a raft of work across all media. On stage at the Project Arts in Dublin, he was street-cred perfect as Tommy, in Christina Reid’s ode to the ghetto, ‘Joyriders’. At the Lyric, he played, almost brimful with effervescence, the youthful Rinty Monaghan in Martin Lynch’s ‘Rinty’, a largely praiseworthy tribute to the celebrated Belfast boxer, with Joe McPartland bringing a plaintive realism to the pugilist in older age and Catherine Brennan and Gerry McGrath playing assorted others. His two screen roles in 1990 were a perfect illustration of the imbalance in credit ratings experienced by jobbing actors.

In his film debut, Margo Harkin’s early eighties, Derry set, ‘Hush -A -Bye Baby’, he played central character Craig, but then could only manage a brief guest role as Kenny in the one season local comedy series, ‘So You Think You’ve Got Troubles’ A year later at the Arts Theatre, Belfast, in Theatre Ulster’s production of Graham Reid’s ‘Too Late to Talk to Billy’, director James Ellis cast him as Billy’s best friend Ian, a role which earned him an EMA nomination and helped develop a character type he would visit many times in his career.

Other screen work in the early nineties included a mixed bag of parts in several BBC television plays; a brief sighting in ‘Events at Drimaghleen’ 1991, a starring role in Graham Reid’s comedy, ‘You Me & Marley’ 1992 and a year later a median credit in Ronan Bennett’s ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ 1993, an early directorial effort by the prolific Michael Winterbottom. He was more consistent on stage at this time, with solid performances in both New York and Dublin. A fair acquittal as Paddy, in James Plunkett’s powerful exposition of the 1913 Dublin lock-out, ‘The Risen People,’ at the Bronx Theatre in 1993, was followed by two Dublin appearances, first as the oafish Derek in Mary O’Malley’s ‘Once a Catholic’ at the Andrews Lane in 1993 and as Harry Lavery in Brendan Behan’s ‘Borstal Boy’, presented at the Gaiety in 1994.

A curious cameo as Baldie in the 1995 Icelandic crime thriller, ‘Nei Er Ekkert Svar’, preceded another Lyric role as Mush, in Thomas Murphy’s violent family drama, ‘A Whistle in the Dark’ 1996. He was particularly busy during the latter half of the nineties, with at least a couple of reasonable screen credits. He was the duplicitous art thief Bryan Gavin in Julian Jarrold’s two part mini-series ‘Painted Lady’, starring Helen Mirren and loyalist paramilitary henchman Willy Lamb, in director Marc Evans’ disturbing ‘Resurrection Man’ 1998. In between he delivered a cogent performance as the feckless Carl, in Patrick Marber’s absorbing ‘Dealer’s Choice’, directed by Tim Loane, in a well received production at the Lyric in 1997.

1999 proved his most prolific year in terms of on-screen work and included at least two supporting credits of significance, as Dublin gangster Barry in director David Blair’s television film ‘Vicious Circle’ and as Brian in Michael Winterbottom’s Belfast set domestic drama, ‘With or Without You’. ’Following a leading role as UDA man Freddie, in the Lyric’s proficient 2001 revival of Gary Mitchell’s unsparing, ‘As the Beast Sleeps’, he took a leave of absence from theatre and spent the next five years working exclusively on screen projects. In 2002 he played a prison warden in writer/director Maeve Murphy’s locally produced ‘Silent Grace’ and on television was impressive as double agent Kevin Fulton in Pete Travis’ intense docudrama, ‘Omagh,’ broadcast in 2004.

In a return to theatre in 2006, he was the one-eyed Christy, in a touring production of Martin McDonagh’s pitch black comedy, ‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’, the second play of his Aran Islands trilogy. In 2007 he was one of a number of Ulster actors cast in director Tom Shankland’s unremittingly violent, ‘W Delta Z’, shot in part in Belfast and New York, in which his character, Wesley Smith, a distinctly loathsome pimp, falls victim to the eponymous serial killer of the title. He was active on the Belfast stage during 2008/10, with a prominent role as Dan in Rawlife Theatre Company’s presentation of Patrick Marber’s award winning, ‘Closer’ at the Grand Opera House and as yet another pimp, the very unpleasant Bull, in Daragh Carville’s ‘This Other City’, at the Baby Grand, both 2008.

At the Waterfront Studio in 2010, his dual roles as bible thumper Billy Morgan and sectarian agitator Archie Kerr, offered excellent support to a strong cast, which saw masterful performances by Walter McMonagle and Lalor Roddy as brothers Davy and George Mitchell, in Martin Lynch’s estimable fiftieth anniversary adaptation of Sam Thompson’s seminal, ‘Over the Bridge’. An energetic period during 2013/14, produced a welter of work on both stage and screen and included a number of guest credits on television, in series such as ‘Star Trek Dark Armada’, ‘Vikings’ and ‘Game of Thrones’, all 2013. In theatre that year, he toured with Gary Mitchell’s ‘Re-Energize’, a  Playhouse Theatre, Derry production, directed by Conall Morrison, which also featured  fellow Belfast actor, James Doran. In 2014 he was cast as Liam, in actor/director Marty McCann’s micro-budget feature, ‘Fishbowl’ and was the grudge-bearing, wheelchair bound  Keith, in Gary Mitchell’s crime caper ‘Demented’, at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.  Michael Liebmann brought a credible menace to his gallery of ‘Troubles’ types in the early years of his career, but has for the greater part played with assurance, a long list of roles across the genres.

 

 

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

– The Government Inspector (1990) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

– Deathwatch (1990) Queens Drama Studio, Belfast

– Scrooge‘s Christmas (2009) Tour

– Lanciatore-The Juggling Man (2015) Belfast Circus School

 

Film

– High Boot Benny (1994)

– Sunset Heights (1997)

– The Perfect Blue (1997)

– 2by4 (1998)

– The Lost Son (1999)

– Sunburn (1999)

– Mystics (2002)

– Sodium Party (2011)

 

TV

– Arise and Go Now (1991)

– Civvies (1992)

– Family (1994)

– Eureka Street (1999)

– Casualty (2001)

– The Clinic (2003)

– Wodehouse in Exile(2013)

– Amber(2014)

 

Valerie Lilley

 

Born Larne 14th April 1939

 

Solemn and reflective character player long on stage and screen, who never quite managed to raise her profile above that of a reliable actor but who undoubtedly deserved more. She trained with Joan Littlewood’s Arts Workshop in London during the early sixties and received an early boost, appearing as Minnie Powell in a cast which included Stephen Rea, in Jack MacGowran’s production of ‘Shadow of a Gunman’ at the Mermaid Theatre in 1967.

A year later at the Playhouse Sheffield she was in a strong Irish ensemble in a touring production of Dion Boucicault’s ‘The Shaughraun’ and in 1970 took a median role in George Farquhar’s ‘The Recruiting Officer’ presented at The Victoria Palace, Stoke-on-Trent. During the early 70’s her stage career appeared to be in neutral, with a co-starring role in ‘The Malcontent’ at the Globe Theatre in 1973 the only saving grace and it would be several years until the next milestone, her film debut, credited as The Mother in director Terence Davies’ domestic drama, ‘Children’ 1976. After another considerable period of quiescence she made her first television appearance with a small role in Bernard MacLaverty’s melodrama ‘My Dear Palestrina’ 1980 and there followed a rush of low profile screen work including Peter Ransley’s independently produced film, ‘The Storm of Ruth’ 1981 and writer/director Edward Bennett’s ‘Ascendancy’ 1982.

On television in 1982 she took a minor role in another local play, Stewart Parker’s ‘Iris in the Traffic, Ruby in the Rain’, starring Frances Tomelty and in 1982 appeared in two other televised plays, ‘Potato Head Blues’ and the troubles rooted ‘Billy Boy’ with James Ellis. In the mid eighties she landed what she must have hoped would be a long term role as Brenda Rigg in ITV’s riposte to ‘Eastenders’, ‘Albion Market’, but unfortunately following a 100 episode run during 1985/1986, the Manchester soap was axed. Two years later she was still fighting for recognition, with the sole crumb of comfort being her commendable cameo as Grandma, in writer Carol Bunyan’s thriller ‘Final Run’ 1988.

A Royal Court appearance in 1990 afforded a further opportunity to expand her matriarchal mien with the role of Joan in David Spencer’s family potboiler ‘Killing the Cat’ but despite this success she once again lost momentum and waited three years for another decent part, this time in husband Bill Morrison’s ‘A Love Song for Ulster’ at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn in 1993. In 1994 director Antonia Bird cast her, almost inevitably, as Sister Kevin in the film adaptation of Jimmy McGovern’s Liverpool set ‘Priest’, a pointed examination of Catholic Church ethics in nineties Britain. From that point she experienced a relative gush of work and included Bill Morrison’s ‘Drive On’ at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast in 1996 and a Royal Court appearance in Caryl Churchill’s ‘Blue Heart’ 1997.

On television from the mid nineties she had numerous guest starring roles, the best of which was the mini series ‘Rag Nymph’ 1997 based on Catherine Cookson’s novel, in which she played another convent confined resident. From 2000 she maintained a steady work rate both on stage and television, with sound performances in Marina Carr’s rural Irish melodrama, ‘On Raftery Hill’, at the Druid Theatre, Galway in 2000 and as Mag Folan in Martin McDonagh’s ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’ at Salisbury Playhouse 2001 and in 2002 took the pivotal role of the pawnbroker in satisfactory television production of ‘Crime and Punishment’. A year later in a display of unrestrained versatility she was successively, Mrs. Knuckle the cookery teacher in the long running television series ‘Grange Hill’ and at the Royal Court, played Rita, the UDA affiliated Grandmother in Gary Mitchell’s uncompromising Rathcoole nightmare ‘Loyal Women’.

Two further stage appearances in which she drew from her well of eccentricity and vulnerability, were in Enda Walsh’s two hander ‘The Small Things’at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London in 2005 and Morna Regan’s Derry set family drama ‘Midden’ at Oldham Colliseum in 2006, where she produced an omnipotent performance as the Alzheimer affected grandmother Dophie. At the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh during the 2008 Fringe Festival she delivered a flawless performance as Clara, one of three musing sisters  in Enda Walsh’s reflective Irish seaside set , ‘ The New Electric Ballroom ‘ .

On screen in 2011 she had a recurring role as Pauline McLynn’s exploitative wheelchair bound mother, Patty Croker in Paul Abbott’s uber black comedy series ‘ Shameless ‘. She was faultless as the unprepossessing housekeeper Madge Mulhern, in director Lyndsey Turner’s marvellous revival of Brian Friel’s ‘Philadelphia Here I Come’, staged at the Donmar Warehouse in July 2012. In 2014 she appeared in four episodes of Robert B. Weide’s comedy ‘Mr. Sloane, starring Nick Frost and had a brief cameo in the crime/drama series ‘Cuffs’ in 2015. Valerie Lilley despite her near perfect credentials, was always too many steps away from the breakthrough she merited, perhaps a case of one too many career gaps.

 

 

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

– Act Of Union(1980) Soho Poly, London

– Inventing A New Colour(1988) New Vic Theatre, Bristol

– Holy Mothers (1999) Ambassadors Theatre, London

– The True Life and Fiction of Mata Hari (2002) Palace Theatre, Watford

– Fen/Far Away (2004) Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

 

Film

– I Know You Know (2008)

– Everyday(2012)

 

TV

– Loving Hazel (1988)

– Elidor (1995)

– Hope and Glory (2000)

– Anybody’s Nightmare (2001)

– Messiah (2004)

– Emma(2009)

– Crackanory(2015)

 

Hudson Liston

Born Belfast 1841

Died Amityville, New York 15th September 1929

Esteemed and august stage player, born into a assembly line of Church of England clergymen, who moved, against the grain, to Dublin, aged fifteen, to pursue a career in banking. This also proved unappealing and in short time was seeking out a thespian alternative in the theatres and music halls of Victorian Dublin. Following a number of years on the amateur stage, he made his professional debut in 1869 with Captain Roebuck’s United Service Drama Society, touring production of Dion Boucicault’s enduring melodrama ‘The Colleen Bawn’.

He left Ireland for England and was offered a role in John Madison Morton’s comedy drama ‘All That Glitters is Not Gold’, showing at the 20th Century Theatre, London, appearing alongside the celebrated Henry Irving, then on the cusp of greatness. Later that year he joined foremost pantomime specialists The Vokes Family, who were enjoying a high level of popularity with their dynamic fusion of song and dance.

Arriving in America in 1873 he found work with Mrs D.P. Bowers’ company, notably playing Lord Darnley in her touring extravaganza ‘Queen Elizabeth’. In centennial year 1876, he took a prominent role in the musical ‘The Black Crook’, adapted from the melodramatic novel by Charles M. Barras, and was presented at the National Theatre in Philadelphia.

At the end of the 1870s, at McVicker’s Theatre, Chicago, he was noticed as impressive in W.S. Gilbert’s acclaimed farce ‘Engaged’, which had recently transferred from it’s New York premiere in February 1879.

Notable productions in the 1880s included ‘Old Shipmates’ at Haverley’s Theatre, Chicago in 1882, ‘A Dark Secret’ at McVicker’s Theatre and Edward Rose’s drama ‘The Gadfly’ at Wallack’s Theatre on Broadway, both 1889.

At the dawn of the twentieth century and approaching sixty, he was offered a co-starring role opposite Lillian Olcott in Victorien Sardou’s ‘Theodora’, which played at Niblo’s Garden, Broadway in 1900. In 1903 and now with failing eyesight, he travelled to Ohio, working for a season with the Pike Stock Company in Cincinnati. In the early years of film, a medium alien to his theatre ethics, he was persuaded to accept the role of the good natured Mr Brownlow in H.A. Spanuth’s production of ‘Oliver Twist’ in 1912, now accepted as the  first ever five reeler, which also featured his wife Millie as the delicate and selfless Rose Maylie.

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A few years later and in semi-retirement, he made his second and final film, taking a median credit as Mr Smyth in director Lawrence Marston’s 1916 comedy drama ‘Love’s Pilgrimage to America’. The following year, in what was perhaps his last recorded appearance on the Broadway stage, he sauntered through an adaptation of Henri Bataille’s French melodrama ‘The Torches’, which opened at the Bijou Theatre in October 1917. Hudson Liston was a proven high calibre stage actor who managed a thirty five plus years career, the most of which was effectuated during the hard and hectic decades following the American civil war.

 

Other Theatre credits:

-Ninety Days(1893) Broadway Theatre, New York

-The Naval Cadet(1897) Toronto Opera House

-Woman and Wine(1900) Boston Theatre

 

 

Thomas Louden

 

Born Belfast 3rd September 1874

Died Hollywood USA 15th March 1948

 

Actor/writer, puzzled look specialist and perennial screen butler, who before taking to the stage had a functional career as a playwright during the early years of the twentieth century. His first major stage appearance was as Alfred Calway in an adaptation of John Galsworthy’s ‘The Pigeon’ at the Little Theatre New York in 1912 and during WW1 he appeared in many Broadway productions, including ‘Justice’ at the Candler Theatre in 1916 with John Barrymore and ‘The Little Man’ at Maxine Elliott’s Theatre 1917.

His own work, ‘The Champion’, was presented at the Longacre Theatre New York in 1921 and his second Broadway play ‘The Love Set’ was more than well received during its run at the Punch and Judy Theatre in 1923. In the remainder of the twenties he was working continuously on the New York stage, appearing as Dr Dionisio in the satirical comedy ‘The Living Mask’ at the 44th Street Theatre 1924 and in 1927 played the affected thespian to the hilt in the comedy ‘The Command to Love’ at the Long Acre Theatre. His routine changed little in the early thirties with more stage work which included writer Edgar Wallace’s ‘The Man Who Changed His Name’ at the Broadhurst Theatre New York 1932 and John Boruff ‘s unfortunate ‘Timberhouse’, which opened and closed on the same night at the Long Acre Theatre in 1936.

He was sixty four years old when he made his uncredited film debut as a clansman in Robert Louis Stevensons highland epic ‘Kidnapped’ 1938 and following this he was to make many more uncredited and minor appearances in an assortment of Hollywood films during the forties, playing the only roles available to him, that of elderly men. Probably his main claim to cinematic fame was his portrayal of Old Tom in the 1945 Bette Davis melodrama ‘The Corn is Green’, a screen adaptation of Welsh born actor/writer Emlyn William’s autobiographical play which had a successful Broadway run five years before. His last stage role appropriately enough, was as Parker in Oscar Wilde’s ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ at the Cort Theatre on Broadway in 1946 and just before his death in 1948 he made his final screen appearance, again in an uncredited role and inevitably playing the old man in the Barbara Stanwyck vehicle ‘BFs Daughter’.

It would be unfair to judge Thomas Louden’s acting career on the basis of his rather belated introduction to films, instead a more balanced assessment would show an evidential talent as a writer and playwright and a natural stage actor.

 

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

– Magic (1917) Maxine Elliott’s Theatre, New York

– Red Planet (1932) Cort Theatre, New York

 

Film

– Prison Break (1938)

– Safari (1940)

– When a Girl’s Beautiful (1947)

 

Paul Loughran

 

Born Belfast 7th July 1969

 

Physical and uncontrived actor of constricted range, who was a member of the Ulster Youth Theatre in the mid-eighties. He made his professional screen debut aged sixteen in Frank McGuinness’ 1987 television play ‘Scout’, based on the life of legendary Belfast football scout Bob Bishop, played scrupulously by Donegal born Ray McAnally.

He enrolled at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre circa 1987 and soon after his graduation appeared in an episode of the one season series ‘Made in Heaven’, 1980. It would be almost two years until his next television assignment, playing a young thug, unsurprisingly called Ginger, in an episode of the immensely popular 1950’s Kent set ‘The Darling Buds of May’ 1992.

A curiosity on his CV at this time was his voice over exposition of Gerry Adams, during the government enforced media gagging order, which was finally lifted in 1994, a year which proved a watershed in his career with appearances in the television drama series ‘In Suspicious Circumstances’, as a soldier in writer/director Joe Comerford’s Irish produced film drama ‘High Boot Benny’ and in his highest profile role to date, played Francis ‘Butch’ Dingle, a member of the notorious pig farming family in the enduring series ‘Emmerdale’. His six year contract with the soap ended in 2000, following his on screen death as a result of a bus crash but within weeks was back on television in an episode of the police drama ‘The Bill’ and after a period on the sidelines returned to play drug dealer Tommy Rampton in the resurrected cult series ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet’ in 2002.

That year also saw him in the film adaptation of Spike Milligan’s irreverent romp ‘Puckoon’, in which he drew inspiration from his ‘Emmerdale’ experience when cast in the role of Farmer Murphy. More television work in 2003 included the Belfast lawyers with attitude comedy series, ‘I Fought The Law’, the 1960’s set hospital drama ‘The Royal’ and a leading role as D.S. Butchers alongside Caroline Quentin and former Emmerdale colleague Ian Kelsey in the crime drama series ‘Blue Murder’.

In a very occasional stage outing he was very much at ease, no doubt conjuring up memories of his own Belfast chldhood,, in Owen McCafferty’s bittersweet two hander ‘Mojo Mickybo, presented as part of the Manchester Irish Festival at the Capitol Theatre in 2005. At the Oldham Coliseum in 2007, he was an ideal casting as struggling publican, Jim, in writer Ian Kershaw’s bittersweet ‘Union Street’ and shortly afterwards changed careers, embarking on a teaching course, which would result in a absence from acting for several years. He reappeared in 2012, with a guest credit in the television medical drama series ‘Doctors’ and a more conspicuous role in Jimmy McGovern’s procedural drama series ‘Moving On’ in 2013. In 2016 he had a peripheral, recurring role as Devon Sam, in Steve Thompson’s 1870’s, Yorkshire Dales set, ‘Jericho’, starring Jessica Raine and Clarke Peters.  Paul Loughran’s unpretentious, but prosaic presence has afforded him nothing more than a functional small screen career, which might with time develop to a more acceptable level.

 

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

TV

– HeartBeat( 2005)

– Ideal (2005)

– Mobile(2007)

 

Susan Lynch

 

Born Corrinshego, Newry 5th June 1971

 

A demonstrative player of wide range and a strong exponent of feisty roles, who quickly developed a confidence beyond her years. As a member of the Ulster Youth Theatre in 1990, she became the first recipient of Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre Company scholarship award and went on to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. During her time there she made an inconspicuous television debut as a trainee investigator in the police drama series ‘The Bill’ in 1991.

That same year she made her first London stage appearance, taking the role of Joanne in Howard Brenton’s ‘Berlin Bertie’ at the Old Vic and she followed this with well deserved notices in an award winning episode of the TV series ‘Cracker’ 1993. She was on stage again that year in an Abbey Theatre production of Cathy Porter’s ‘The Last Ones’ and at the Old Vic appeared with John Hannah in ‘Miss Julie’, in which she took her full share of the plaudits. Her big screen entrance came in 1994, when she appeared as the mythical sea creature Selkie in the little seen Irish production ‘The Secret of Roan Inish’ and the same year took a minor role in Neil Jordan’s star studded epic horror film ‘Interview with a Vampire’.

1994 proved a productive year with two National theatre appearances as Ximena in ‘El Cid’ and Marina in ‘Pericles’ and most notably as Hayley in ‘Ashes and Sand’ at the Royal Court. Among her big screen highpoints during the remainder of the nineties were the romantic thriller ‘Downtime’1997 with Paul McGann and writer/director Kirk Jones’ comedy ‘Waking Ned’ 1998 and, later that year was in Frank McGuinness’ adaptation of Alexander Ostrovsky’s ‘The Storm’ at the Almeida Theatre London. She was now more involved with film and television projects and with her stage aspirations in mothballs, she entered the new century on an exhaustive work schedule.

From 2000-2002, she appeared in eight films and two television productions which included two memorable character roles, that of Dorothy in the black comedy ‘Beautiful Creatures’ 2000 and as the harassed single mother Stevie, in the Dublin set RTE series ‘Any Time Now’ 2002. She collected a British Independent Award in 2003, with a perfectly executed performance as Mary in the raw film drama ‘Sixteen years of Alcohol’and the following year played Dr Maria Orton in the surprisingly undervalued quirky medical series ‘Bodies’. Other noteworthy film work at this time included a lovely cameo in Terry Loane’s locally produced light hearted jaunt, ‘Mickybo and Me’ in 2004 and a co-starring role in the romantic comedy drama ‘Someone Else’ 2006. In between she found time for a return to theatre and brought her usual energy to the role of Joanne Kennedy, the eldest daughter of a Sligo family in writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s ‘Night Season’ at the National in 2004 and at the Royal Court in 2006 introduced a little stability to Stella Feehily’s fractured drama ‘O Go My Man’.

In an exceptionally high level of work from 2009, she produced several strong performances on screen and two sublime characterizations on stage, confirming her acute understanding of interpretation, particularly in an Irish idiom. She was the quiescent, supportive Agnes Mundy in a 2009 revival of  ‘ Dancing at Lughnasa ‘ at the Old Vic and at the Young Vic a year later, was the frustrated and miserable Maureen Folan in Martin McDonagh’s much travelled dark piquant comedy, ‘ The Beauty Queen of Leenane ‘. Notable film roles included director Tom Reeve’s rural Irish set farce ‘ Holy Water ‘ 2009, in which she appeared alongside her older brother John as sibling hotel proprietors, Geraldine and Tom Gaffney.

In 2011  she co-starred in a largely unknown cast as Mrs O’Mara in writer Nick Murphy’s supernatural thriller ‘ Hideaways ‘, aka ‘ The Last Furlong’, directed by Agnes Merlet. During 2011/12 she enjoyed a full twelve episode run in writer Peter Bowker’s medical drama ‘Monroe’, wife of the titular hero, played by James Nesbitt and at the Barbican, London in 2012, was unsuppressed as the love-struck Margarita in Mikhail Bulgakov’s censorious satire ‘The Master and Margarita’. Significant screen roles between 2013/16 included her grieving mother, Margaret Ward, in Jimmy McGovern’s poignant television film ‘Common’ in 2014 and as Angie, in director David Blair’s feature film drama, ‘Away’ 2016.

In a return to Dublin theatre she played the disturbed Hester Swane, in a revival of Marina Carr’s bleak, mythical, ‘By the Bog of Cats’, a re-telling of Euripides’ ‘Medea’, staged at the Abbey in 2015. Between 2000/03, Susan Lynch received three IFTA awards and has maintained a consistent high performance level throughout her career, an extraordinarily flexible actor who has consistently delivered in all mediums.

 

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

– The Clearing (1993) Bush Theatre, London

– The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (2008) Almeida Theatre, London

 

Film

– Nora (2000)

– From Hell (2001)

– The Map Maker 2001)

– Someone Else (2006)

– Connolly (2007)

– The Robber Bride (2007)

– City Rats (2008)

–  The Race(2009)

– The Scouting Book for Boys(2009)

– Here and Now(2014)

 

TV

– Truth or Dare (1996)

– Kings in Grass Castles (1998)

– Sweet Revenge (2001)

– Ambassadors(2003)

– Marple(2010)

– Chasing Shadows(2014)