“I set out to be a serious tragedienne, then I got into Skippy.” Liza Goddard laughs as she recalls how her big acting break, as Clarissa “Clancy” Merrick in the television series Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, set her off on a lifetime of working with children and animals.
Of course, the old showbiz adage is to steer clear of both, and Liza concedes that “so many things went wrong” in the filming of Skippy. “We had 20 of the kangaroos,” she explains. “And they were always running off. There was a prize at the end of the day for who could round up the most.”
Liza, 61, secured the part in Skippy after moving to Australia with her family when she was 15. She returned to the UK in 1969 as an adult, where she took on the role of Victoria in the popular television series, Take Three Girls and its sequel, Take Three Women. She has enjoyed a long and successful career on screen and stage, forging a particularly strong working relationship with the playwright Alan Ayckbourn, who has cast her in many of his plays.
Many will remember her as the glamorous jewel thief Philippa Vale in Bergerac. She also played the teacher Mrs Jessop in the long-running children’s programme, Woof! - About the adventures of a schoolboy who regularly turned into a dog. Her private life has been just as eventful - she has been married to the actor Colin baker and pop star Alvin Stardust, before meeting her third husband, producer and director David Cobham. And now Liza has written a revealing autobiography, charting her career, her marriages, her battle with breast cancer and how she successfully sued a tabloid newspaper over false allegations of an affair with John Nettles, the star of Bergerac.
She explains that she had been thinking about writing her autobiography for some time but never had the discipline to sit down and do it, until the writer Derek Clements approached her. They worked on the book collaboratively and Liza didn’t shy away from including the more intimate details.
“I thought I ought to include everything in the book because it’s going to be around for a long time. One ought to include everything because people will look back.” she adds that writing it with Derek was helpful because she finds it hard to recall events when confronted with a blank sheet of paper.
“I don’t keep a diary and I did find it hard to remember things,” she says. “I keep waking up in the night and remembering things I should have included. I’ll have to write another one.”
A pleasure to work with
The book is, aptly, called Working with Children and Animals. And, although Liza may not have deliberately set out to spend quite so much of her working life with either, they have given her a great deal of pleasure.
She speaks warmly of her love of appearing in pantomimes, describing how the first time she did one she worked with Lionel Blair. He told her that when you’re acting in a pantomime you have to be “completely real at all times” because the children really believe in the magic.
“It’s just wonderful to see their little faces,” she says. “It’s the first and sometimes the only time that people go to the theatre.” and outside work she has filled her life with children and animals too. She has two grown-up children, Thom and Sophie, and two grandchildren, Oscar and Adelaide.
Sucker for a sob story
Liza tells me that, having just finished touring with two Alan Ayckbourn plays, she’s enjoying spending the summer holidays at home. And, Liza admits rather ruefully, she can never resist an animal with a “sob story“. At present, she and her husband “only” have four dogs, three chickens, a cockerel, and a pony at their home in Norfolk. At one point, they had nine dogs.
“It was easy,” she says, breezily, of her menagerie. Well, she has had plenty of practice.
Working with Children and Animals by Liza Goddard. Available in bookshops now RRP £15.99.
Campaigns & Issues
Woodland Court staff face secure future thanks to Brunelcare
Residents and staff at a retirement village in Downend have finally reached the end of two years of uncertainty, following the acquisition of Woodland Court by Brunelcare.
Previous owners of the 57 apartment village, Care Village Group, went into administration in June 2011, leaving the residents and staff with an uncertain future.
The top priority for the Bristol based charity has been to retain all 27 members of staff to ensure that the support services are maintained, whilst minimising any disruption to the residents.
Stamping their feet
THOUSANDS OF Post Office staff have taken part in strikes across the country following a dispute about closures, jobs and pay.
A staggering 88 per cent of Communication Workers Union members voted in favour of strike action, following a refusal from the Post Office to negotiate terms.
The 4,000 workers, from 373 offices, took part in the strikes in opposition to plans to close 76 offices.
They hope to protect jobs and services and secure a fair pay rise for Post Office staff - who have not had a wage increase since April 2011.
Competitions & Fun
Win a Doro PhoneEasy 515 handset!
We’ve teamed up with Doro to give four very lucky Mature Times readers the chance to win a Doro PhoneEasy 515 mobile phone.
The Doro PhoneEasy 515 has been designed to provide an easy-to-use mobile for people who might find mainstream handsets difficult or confusing to use. This beautifully stylish candybar phone features an easy-to-use camera enabling you to capture those spontaneous photos quickly and easily before sharing them with others.
The Doro PhoneEasy 515 has several user-friendly functions including a direct SMS key and a charging cradle to make charging hassle free. It also has a large keypad, enlarged text for easy dialing and messaging and a loud, clear sound.
Win a prize at home or away in this month's prize draw with Silver Travel Advisor!
Enter now and you could win a prize at home or away! How about a 7 night break for 2, with flights included, in beautiful Slovenia? Or a trip to London’s glitzy theatreland, staying in a 4* hotel? Both fabulous treats which must be won!
Silver Travel Advisor is a friendly website packed with advice, tips, information and honest reviews written by and for silver travellers (aged over 50). A team of advisors are on hand to answer queries (for free), and you can share your own experiences too.
Health & Wellbeing
Loneliness is a ‘ticking time bomb’
One in three people over the age of 50 struggles with loneliness – fuelled partly by a rise in later life divorces, according to an official study. Figures show almost seven million members of the baby-boomer generation and above admit to feeling lonely.
Research published as part of David Cameron’s plan to measure the nation’s ‘happiness’ said almost half of people over 80 feel lonely - many “much of the time”.
Campaigns groups say the study, by the Office for National Statistics, suggests the generation approaching retirement will be a “loneliness time bomb”.
Property & Finance
15 per cent of population claim financial worries are affecting their health
aspect of their lives
Leisure and Lifestyle
Singing you heart out
Music sensation Billy Ocean takes time out talk to Laura Heads about the release of his latest album and how making music has changed dramatically during his 40 year career.
The star has sold over 30 million records in his lifetime and has collected a pile of Gold and Platinum awards across the world. Billy’s unique reggae infused voice and musical style, representing his Trinidadian roots, are recognisable anywhere and it is that which has earned him his well-deserved number ones.
And the well-loved singer-song writer said that the way music is made has changed a lot since he first began in the 1970s. He said: “Music is now controlled by technology. New artists allow technology to control what they are doing.
New guide to travel insurance launched
THIS IS A handy to use and easy to read guide packed with tips aimed at helping older travellers when considering the purchase of travel insurance.
The guide came about as a result of the numerous enquiries we received here at the Mature Times’ offices regarding travel insurance for older people. MT Editor Andrew Young says ‘We receive many, many e-mails, letters and telephone calls from our readers regarding this subject. We know that as you get older travel insurance becomes more expensive, but there are ways that you can try to help offset some of these increases – and this guide can help you do that.’
I have received a copy of you paper from our Community Centre for the last two years and really look foreword to reading it. Thank you!