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Louise Jameson Interview: The Mousetrap

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
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Former Dr Who Star Talks About Her Career And The Mousetrap
Actress Louise Jameson is very much enjoying being out of her "comfort zone" as she stars in Agatha Christie's long-running 'whodunnit' The Mousetrap for the very first time. The former Doctor Who and Tenko star is playing the role of Mrs Boyle in the record-breaking 60th anniversary tour of The Mousetrap which comes to the Lichfield Garrick theatre from April 4-9.

As Louise celebrates the equally important personal milestone of her 65th birthday, also in April, she says: "Mrs Boyle isn't the sleuth, she's the grumpy old woman which is way out of my comfort zone because I tend to play roles such as someone's mother or the tart with the heart. In fact, when she ends her eight-month run in The Mousetrap in August, Louise will be playing a dead mother in a Fringe play in London, before heading to America for wildly contrasting commitments.

Louise Jameson, The Mousetrap
Louise Jameson as Mrs Boyle in The Mousetrap. Credit Liza Maria Dawson

She explains: "I am off to New York to do a Doctor Who convention and then performing a Fringe play called My Gay Best Friend which I co-wrote with my gay best friend. I love performing in Fringe theatre even though it doesn't pay the mortgage. But then Doctor Who is proving to be my pension as well as having taken me all over America as well as Australia and New Zealand."

Louise, who had just 12 hours between finishing as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella and starting rehearsals for The Mousetrap, first played the part of Leela, Warrior of the Sevateem, in Dr Who episode "The Face of Evil" in 1977. She went on to star alongside Tom Baker's Doctor during two series of the show. But almost 40 years on she continues to be in demand to appear at fans conventions dedicated to the Time Lord, as well as still playing Leela in audio productions created by Big Finish.

Louise Jameson, Leela, Doctor Who
Doctor Who's travelling companion Leela (Credit Wikipedia)

"I just feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to appear in Doctor Who in my career. That role was just 14 months of my life but it's great that I am still remembered for it. I have been working with Big Finish for nearly 20 years but there has been a big interest in Doctor Who following the success of the show since it returned to television."

As well as appearing as Leela in the Big Finish audio productions, Louise has been given the opportunity to write on some of the episodes. "They are mentoring me through the writing process by writing some of the shows as well as act in them. I am very flattered that they approached me and that they are opening another door for me in my 60s. I also enjoy doing the Doctor Who conventions. There are huge commercial ones and there are the completely fan-run ones which can be a bit chaotic. But the ones I like the best are the ones in the middle, semi-professional I like to call them, where there is plenty of time to talk to fans."

Louise Jameson
The actress is busier than ever in her 65th year

Apart from Doctor Who's travelling companion Louise is probably best remembered for her equally long-running role as Blanche Simmons in Japanese war drama Tenko. She recalls: "Tenko was the best, most amazing job ever and was a turning point in my life. I had my two babies, I became a vegetarian, and my darling mum died. We were astounded when the viewing figures went up to 17 million."

More recently, Louise has appeared as Rosa di Marco in EastEnders, as well as continuing to work regularly on the stage in plays such as Noises Off, Gutted, and Oedipus. She adds: "I have always mixed and married stage and TV work. I try not to stay off the stage for more than two years otherwise it gets too scary appearing in front of a live audience. And, as you get older, it takes longer to learn the lines so I don't like to leave it too long between plays in order to maintain the discipline."

The Mousetrap
The Mousetrap is enjoying its 60th anniversary tour

Louise had never previously appeared in The Mousetrap, which she continues in until August, although she has seen it on four occasions to support various friends in the cast. But she almost chose not to take on the role of Mrs Boyle. "I was umming and aahing whether to do it or not because eight months is a long time. But she's coming into her 64th year, having been first performed in 1952, and I was born in 1951, so we are almost of an age. It just seemed an appropriate time to do The Mousetrap."

However, Louise reflects on the declining opportunities for female actors as they get older. "There aren't that many parts for older women, so we are grateful to Miss Christie for her plays. But we need more women writers." Despite the apparent lack of opportunities, Louise reckons she has never been busier, partly due to her relatively new-found writing but also appearing in Fringe theatre.

Louise Jameson, The Mousetrap
Louise Jameson appears in The Mousetrap for the first time. Credit Liza Maria Dawson

In fact, after she leaves The Mousetrap in August she will be appearing in "Diva Drag" in a Fringe production in London for three weeks. "It's about a drag queen and it's the day of his mother's funeral but he hasn't gone. I take on the role of his dead mother so I am playing a Welsh homophobic ghost."

After that it's off to America, so what is next after New York? "There is something with Big Finish which I'm not allowed to talk about. But I would like a smashing cameo role in a comedy. That would be my dream job because I get the attention without having to do too much work."

Remaining tickets for The Mousetrap are available priced £17 to £28.50 from the Lichfield Garrick online or by calling the Box Office on 01543 412121.

11–13 April Regent Theatre, Stoke 0844 871 7649
14-16 April New Victoria Theatre, Woking 0844 871 7649
18-20 April De Montfort Hall, Leicester 0116 233 3111
21-23 April Liverpool Empire 0151 702 7320
25-30 April Embassy Theatre, Skegness 01507 613100
2-7 May Harrogate Theatre 01423 502 116
9-14 May Severn Theatre, Shrewsbury 01743 281281
16-21 May Orchard Theatre, Dartford 01322 220 000
23-28 May Octagon Theatre, Yeovil 01935 422 884
30 May-4 June The Courtyard, Hereford 01432 340 555
6-11 June Derby Theatre 01332 59 39 39
13-18 June Kings Lynn Corn Exchange 01553 764864
20-25 June Salisbury Playhouse 01722 320 333
27 June-2 July Opera House Manchester 0844 871 3018
4-9 July Aylesbury Waterside Theatre 0844 871 7607
18-23 July Princess Theatre Torquay 0844 871 3023
25-30 July Venue Cymru Llandudno 01492 872000
1-6 August Jersey Opera House 01534 511 115.
8-13 August Bristol Hippodrome 0844 871 3012
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Why? Former Dr Who And Tenko Actress Stars In The Mousetrap For First Time
When: 4 April to 13 August 2016
Phone: 01543 412121
Where: Lichfield Garrick, Castle Dyke, Lichfield WS13 6HR
Cost: £17 to £28.50
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