21st March 2020

Hampshire Federation of WI

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Our talk this month was entitled ‘Tales from the Green Room’, by Mr Alan Grace, who was head of Sport on London Radio before retirement.

The expression ‘ Green Room’ comes from far back in history when the Greek actors and speakers would head outside to relax in the fresh air and green spaces. They would rehearse and relax here before going on stage to perform.

Fast forward to the magnificent theatres we have now and Mr Grace regaled us with stories of the ghosts who inhabit these places, often helping out nervous actors who would feel hands on their shoulders, guiding them onto the stage. Examples are:-

A grey man who lives in Drury lane theatre, and at another, Joe Grimaldi, the first famous clown, appeared to a nervous girl who was auditioning for a role in Miss Saigon, and with his encouragement went on to win a lead role.

Mr Grace who has interviewed many famous sports personalities and other celebrities during his career kept us entertained with anecdotes from some of his favourite guests and a few surprising facts. Did you know that Richard Burton was such an amazing Rugby player that he had to make a career choice between Rugby and acting? This was the studio rather than Mr Burton who thought he could happily do both! Likewise the fabulous Gareth Edwards who during a programme on reflection of life, said he would rather go fishing any day than play Rugby!

How about Mr Bob Monkhouse apparently well known for being a hoarder of tinned food among other things, eventually cured by having to choose between the hoarding or his wife. You have to laugh, but really quite a serious issue to deal with and luckily he chose his wife. Ken Dodd talked a lot (no surprise there) and Jean Marsh who acted and wrote Upstairs/Downstairs but was absolutely no good at casting actors in roles.

After so many interesting tales Mr & Mrs Grace were thanked and joined us for tea and biscuits.

Diane Knight

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