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Interview with Susan Penhaligon - star of the original Bouquet of Barbed Wire

PUBLISHED: 16:03 16 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:49 20 February 2013

Interview with Susan Penhaligon - star of the original Bouquet of Barbed Wire

Interview with Susan Penhaligon - star of the original Bouquet of Barbed Wire

Susan Penhaligon accepts she will always be known as Prue in the 1970s cult classic Bouquet of Barbed Wire but she has moved on and is coming to Eastbourne this month as Queen Charlotte in Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III...

Susan Penhaligon accepts she will always be known as Prue in the 1970s cult classic Bouquet of Barbed Wire but she has moved on and is coming to Eastbourne this month as Queen Charlotte in Alan Bennetts The Madness of George III. She looks forward to returning to Sussex where her career began...



Tell us about your part in The Madness of George III. What can audiences expect, is the play very like the film?

It is like the film but obviously it will be a different experience for the audience as it always is in the theatre. I play Queen Charlotte which is an amazing part. Its a very good play, very well-written, I love the work of Alan Bennett.

You were very active on screen in the 1970s, once described as the face of the decade.

Do you have any favourite films or TV from that time?

I was very busy during the 70s. I did a lot of TV and films. Bouquet of Barbed Wire is the one people always seem to remember. The Land that Time Forgot is always showing on television too.

I liked a Dutch film I was in with Rutger Hauer before he went to Hollywood called Soldier of Orange. I had quite a small part. I played a secretary who falls in love with one of the Dutch double agents. I think its a good film. In the 80s I was on TV in A Fine Romance with Judi Dench and Michael Williams.

Do you mind when people always bring up A Bouquet of Barbed Wire?

I do get a bit fed up, as they have re-made it. I am always getting asked to do interviews and they keep putting the same picture of me in a bikini in the article and people want you to look like that now and I just cant. I am not the same woman as I was then. I was happy to be that woman then but I have moved on now. I play really interesting parts. Having said that, we had a real laugh making it. Frank Finlay and I used to giggle all the time.

I started making films and TV when I was very young. What I didnt realise at the time was that it would eventually come to a halt. When you are young, you think it will go on forever.

Lalla Ward had a great quote I read recently when she said you have this moment in the sun when youre young, you are successful and what you have to realise is that this moment will come to an end and you should save for the future.

You have written an historical novel, For The Love Of Angel, set in Truro in the 19th century. Do you plan to write more ?

I have started a second one, set in the 50s. I only seem to be able to write about Cornwall.

Your acting career started on the stage in Sussex. What was the play, which theatre was it and when was it?

My first role was in two-weekly rep as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing. The director decided that in one scene Romeo and I would have no clothes on. It was played in semi-darkness. My gran came all the way from Cornwall to see it and was disappointed she couldnt see more of Romeo.

But this was 1971 and it caused a huge stir in Worthing. I love Worthing and I have played there quite often since. I remember we rehearsed in the day, performed in the evening and then went to the pub that opened late afterwards. I dont know how we did it. I was also an ASM, an assistant stage manager, on 10 a week. I had to do a lighting change before coming on as Juliet!

Will you have chance to explore while the play is on in Eastbourne?

Im very fond of Eastbourne, I love it. I love the beaches, I love the fact that its not as commercial as Brighton. I love the peace there.

Tell us about your part in The Madness of George III. What can audiences expect, is the play very like the film?

It is like the film but obviously it will be a different experience for the audience as it always is in the theatre. I play Queen Charlotte which is an amazing part. Its a very good play, very well-written, I love the work of Alan Bennett.


You were very active on screen in the 1970s, once described as the face of the decade.Do you have any favourite films or TV from that time?

I was very busy during the 70s. I did a lot of TV and films. Bouquet of Barbed Wire is the one people always seem to remember. The Land that Time Forgot is always showing on television too.I liked a Dutch film I was in with Rutger Hauer before he went to Hollywood called Soldier of Orange. I had quite a small part. I played a secretary who falls in love with one of the Dutch double agents. I think its a good film. In the 80s I was on TV in A Fine Romance with Judi Dench and Michael Williams.


Do you mind when people always bring up A Bouquet of Barbed Wire?

I do get a bit fed up, as they have re-made it. I am always getting asked to do interviews and they keep putting the same picture of me in a bikini in the article and people want you to look like that now and I just cant. I am not the same woman as I was then. I was happy to be that woman then but I have moved on now. I play really interesting parts. Having said that, we had a real laugh making it. Frank Finlay and I used to giggle all the time.I started making films and TV when I was very young. What I didnt realise at the time was that it would eventually come to a halt. When you are young, you think it will go on forever. Lalla Ward had a great quote I read recently when she said you have this moment in the sun when youre young, you are successful and what you have to realise is that this moment will come to an end and you should save for the future.


You have written an historical novel, For The Love Of Angel, set in Truro in the 19th century. Do you plan to write more ?

I have started a second one, set in the 50s. I only seem to be able to write about Cornwall.

Your acting career started on the stage in Sussex. What was the play, which theatre was it and when was it?

My first role was in two-weekly rep as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing. The director decided that in one scene Romeo and I would have no clothes on. It was played in semi-darkness. My gran came all the way from Cornwall to see it and was disappointed she couldnt see more of Romeo.But this was 1971 and it caused a huge stir in Worthing. I love Worthing and I have played there quite often since. I remember we rehearsed in the day, performed in the evening and then went to the pub that opened late afterwards. I dont know how we did it. I was also an ASM, an assistant stage manager, on 10 a week. I had to do a lighting change before coming on as Juliet!


Will you have chance to explore while the play is on in Eastbourne?

Im very fond of Eastbourne, I love it. I love the beaches, I love the fact that its not as commercial as Brighton. I love the peace there.


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