“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.
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Campaigns & Issues
Oldest old ‘not a drain on society’
ILC-UK responds to 2011 Census data on the oldest old published today
David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications at ILC-UK, responding to the results, said:
"This new evidence reveals that 8.8% for those aged over 85 are still caring for someone. And half of these older carers are providing support for more than 50 hours a week.
The Elders honour the memory of their Founder, Nelson Mandela
The Elders are deeply saddened by the death of their founder, Nelson Mandela. They join millions of people around the world who were inspired by his courage and touched by his compassion. All will mourn his passing.
Mandela – or Madiba as he is known in South Africa – called the Elders together in 2007, urging them to be bold, independent and to speak the truth. He told them to be a robust force for good, and to work in the interests of peace for all humanity.
Competitions & Fun
Fairytale of New York voted top Christmas driving song!
With the festive season fast approaching and Christmas songs becoming a daily feature of radio station playlists, a 1st Central Insurance survey reveals The Pogues' Fairytale of New York is the nation's favourite Christmas song to drive along to.
Whilst drivers surveyed found the radio the least distracting in-car activity compared to mobile phones, children, satellite-navigation systems and chatting to passengers; 1st Central is cautioning motorists to remain focussed whilst behind the wheel this festive season.
Win one of 31 fabulous travel treats from Silver Travel Advisor this December
Enter now and you could win one of the 31 travel treats from our Christmas Stocking.
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
Winterproof your skin
Radiant, glowing skin can be yours whatever the weather. We let you in on some expert secrets
The weather has a huge impact on how you look and feel and the secret to healthy glowing skin is to adapt your skincare regime according to the season. Follow these steps and your skin will repay you with a gorgeous glow that will last right through to spring.
At this time of year cold harsh winds and the drying effects of central heating can wreak havoc on your skin and it may need extra hydration to give back what Mother Nature takes away. ‘The lipid layer, the outermost layer of the skin, needs to be protected to create a barrier that keeps natural moisture intact and stops it from escaping,’ explains dermatologist Victoria Pugh.
Property & Finance
Costly Christmas Needs Careful Budgeting
Nearly a third of Brits won’t be able to make November’s salary last until Christmas
Only 26 per cent have budgeted for the festive expense
The Christmas countdown is on and with three weeks to go, Britain’s number one comparison site MoneySuperMarket.com reveals nearly a third (30 per cent) of Christmas spenders won’t be able to make their November salary last to fund the festivities.
Leisure and Lifestyle
Joyce Glasser reviews Frozen
Frozen is seasonal, family entertainment at its best with Executive Producer John Lasseter (UP, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Brave) working his magic once again. This combination of romantic comedy and musical adventure story was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s 1845 fable, The Snow Queen and features, at its core, an unusual, schmaltz-free sisterly bond.
That might be because the film is co-directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, with Lee, the first female director of animation in Disney’s history, in charge of the script. It’s hard to imagine any demographic that won’t be drawn to its varied characters, settings, and superb 3D animation, not to mention its wise messages and music.
We've got money to spend and an appetite for adventure...
Holidays are for people with lean, tanned bodies. For twentysomethings with wires in their ears and huge bags on their backs.
For thirtysomethings with kids towing irritating 'Trunkies' across crowded arrivals halls. Or for fortysomethings in family groups talking loudly in ra-ra voices on the transfer bus, as if the rest of us don’t exist.
Obviously as Editor you will have had many letters of thank-you's and well-done's, so please count this as one more from a convert to your excellent paper.