Advocates: Tamzin Outhwaite

Tamzin Outhwaite is an actress who received her first major theatre break from Alan Ayckbourn when he cast her as Evelyn in his 1997 revival of Absent Friends. Shortly afterwards, she would go on to a major role in the television soap opera EastEnders and become a hugely successful actress.


"Early in 1997, after training and seven years performing in musicals I auditioned for They 're Playing Our Song in Scarborough. I distinctly remember the first time I saw Alan. I'd spent years reading and acting out scenes from his plays and thought of him as a genius. Now I was chatting to him and auditioning for him but surely only 'real' or 'serious' actresses worked for this incredible man.
"When I heard that I had been successful I was thrilled. I realise now that this was a main turning point in my career. From day one I sat and watched Alan at work with a fine cast. He was bounding with energy and enthusiasm as if this was his directorial debut. At times I thought - My God! What would he be like directing his own work?
"I was soon to find out. Towards the end of the run of the musical, which had been well received and given me vast amounts of pleasure, I was asked to audition for a role in Absent Friends. 'What no singing or dancing? But they've only seen me prancing around in a purple flowing dress looking like an overgrown Ballerina Barbie Doll.'
"I ran and bought the play and a week later read for the part. Time slowed for me at this point, as I couldn't believe that Sir Alan Ayckbourn - he'd been knighted by this time was listening to me reading Evelyn, character from his own play. I cried when I heard I'd got the part and it's my favourite job to date.
"The faith he had in taking a chance on me is something I will never forget. It was this faith that gave my resumé a touch of class and gave me the confidence to call myself an actress.
"I will always feel grateful and honoured to have worked with him and I would love our paths to cross again."

"Alan took a risk with me. He made me realise that it didn't matter that I was from Essex and didn't speak as well as the others. He made me find the uninhibited person inside me."

“Alan gave me my first big break after drama school. I went up to Scarborough to the Stephen Joseph Theatre and he cast me in the musical They’re Playing Our Song. Then he cast me in Absent Friends, which was my first non-musical play.”
Copyright: Tamzin Outhwaite. All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd, please credit this website if reproduced.