Advocates: Penelope Keith

Dame Penelope Keith, DBE, DL is an acclaimed and Olivier award-winning actress. She is well known for her roles in television sitcoms such as The Good Life and To The Manor Born. She was in the West End premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests as Sarah - a role for which she received the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress when she reprised the role for television


"Alan writes very strong situations, I think what he does give you as an actor is the basis of a very interesting character, a very rounded character. You’re not just playing someone who gets laughed at - or even with. I remember one of the greatest complements I had after Round And Round The Garden was someone came and said, ‘oh, you made me cry’ and I was very pleased about that, the fact the house is rocking for a good part of the evening, but they’re also crying too - that is the peak, that is the pinnacle for me. The fact you can make people laugh and cry in the same evening."

"For me, the thing I admire so much is that he uses theatre. The first play of his I did was called
How The Other Half Loves and that has the most stunning idea of having two houses and even a sofa - two of whose seating compartments are in one house and the other seats in the other. So - in other words - you are sitting on the stage talking to your husband and next to me was the wife of the other family in another house. Visually this is terribly funny and indeed vocally, except it is only really truly funny in the theatre, it wouldn’t work on television because people wouldn’t understand. You could hop from one house to the other, likewise in the films. You wouldn’t be quite as funny on the radio as you wouldn’t see the two people sitting so close. So he just uses the theatre as his medium."

"Other plays might comment on an entire country’s political life. Alan will take a family, therefore you can say he’s a miniaturist. He’ll take a family and will comment on that. But certainly as an actor, they are wonderful plays to work on. Oh yes, it’s all there and very, very challenging and very deep."
Copyright: Penelope Keith. All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd, please credit this website if reproduced.