Letters: Jill Gascoine the stage actor

Philip Hedley writes: Though Jill Gascoine made her greatest mark on TV, she retained her respect for the theatre

Very popular actors on TV are often not given proper recognition for their acting talent, but Stuart Jeffries treated Jill Gascoine as the accomplished, serious-minded actor that she was. Just before she finished her seven years playing Maggie Forbes, the sympathetic policewoman in The Gentle Touch and the lead in a follow-up series, I offered her a role in a new play at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Scrape Off the Black by Tunde Ikoli (1987). The part was that of a racist mother who was very tough on her mixed-race children and hardly ever moved from her sofa all day, except to play bingo. She wore no make-up and committed herself totally to the role.

Unsurprisingly she had to persuade her agent to accept the job because Stratford East in those days only paid the Equity minimum, which was around £60 a week, plus £1 per week extra for every year you had had your Equity card, up to 15 years. As I heard her say to that agent, “I have to play this part because, after seven years of playing the same role, I have to find out if I’m still an actor.”
Philip Hedley

At Dundee rep in the mid-1960s, Jill Gascoine was a key member of a small company that also included Vivien Heilbron, Charmian May and Stephen Yardley, performing in a converted church filled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee drifting in from the foyer. She brought an infectious enthusiasm to the many roles she played in the two-weekly rep cycle. As a teenager I attended many of these productions: Jill and her colleagues left me with a love of the theatre for which I will always be grateful.
Iain Forbes

Philip Hedley and Iain Forbes

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Jill Gascoine obituary
Stage and screen actor who played DI Maggie Forbes in the pioneering TV police drama The Gentle Touch in the 1980s

Stuart Jeffries

29, Apr, 2020 @3:46 PM

Article image
Letters: Roy Hudd obituary
Kevin Whately writes: At every break between setups Roy stayed at his microphone and told gags without ever repeating himself

Kevin Whately, Jef Pirie, Norma Hornby and Simon McIntyre

19, Mar, 2020 @6:08 PM

Article image
Barry Chuckle obituary
One half of the comedy duo the Chuckle Brothers who were stalwarts of children’s television

Stephen Dixon

05, Aug, 2018 @4:37 PM

Article image
Emma Chambers obituary
Actor who played Alice in the TV sitcom The Vicar of Dibley and Honey Thacker in the film Notting Hill

Anthony Hayward

25, Feb, 2018 @2:43 PM

Article image
Dame June Whitfield obituary
Comic actor whose career ranged from Take It from Here to the radio to Terry and June and Absolutely Fabulous on TV

Stephen Dixon

29, Dec, 2018 @10:41 PM

Article image
Dudley Sutton obituary
Veteran stage and screen actor who found fame as Tinker Dill in the BBC series Lovejoy

Simon Farquhar

16, Sep, 2018 @2:26 PM

Article image
Maggie Fitzgibbon obituary
Star of West End musicals and light entertainment who appeared in the TV series The Newcomers and Manhunt

Anthony Hayward

19, Jun, 2020 @10:29 AM

Article image
Nicky Henson obituary
Dashing actor who brought energy and verve to his many film, stage and TV roles over five decades

Michael Coveney

17, Dec, 2019 @4:27 PM

Article image
Sheila Mercier obituary
Stage and screen actor who played the matriarch Annie Sugden in the ITV soap Emmerdale for more than 20 years

Toby Hadoke

17, Dec, 2019 @1:05 PM

Article image
Tony Britton obituary
Stage and screen actor who was a West End stalwart, became a film star in the 1950s and then a TV sitcom favourite in the 70s and 80s

Michael Coveney

22, Dec, 2019 @3:01 PM