Only Fools star Sue comes back to city theatre roots

Sue Holderness and Jeff Rawle in QuartetSue Holderness and Jeff Rawle in Quartet
Sue Holderness and Jeff Rawle in Quartet
Only Fools and Horses star Sue Holderness is returning to Sheffield, where she performed in her first theatre role.

Sue, who became famous as Marlene in the much-loved sitcom, said: “I’m really looking forward to coming to Sheffield very much. I love Sheffield.

“I did Calendar Girls in 2010 there and lots of other things. I did my first-ever play there in the early 1970s.

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“It was called the Temple of Ruin in Truelove’s Gutter. It was a play-writing competition and the prize for the winner was to put the play on, which went on in the Crucible Studio.

“It was all terribly thrilling and it was early in my career.

“I had a wonderful time getting to know the theatre and getting to know the city. It’s such a vibrant place.”

Sue stars alongside Paul Nicholas (The Real Marigold Hotel, Just Good Friends), Coronation Street’s Wendi Peters and Jeff Rawle of the Harry Potter films and Drop The Dead Donkey fame.

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Quartet, which was made into a 2012 film is a gently bitter-sweet comedy about ageing opera singers living in a musical artists’ retirement home and talking about performing in a fundraising show.

When star name Jean, played by Sue, arrives to join them, old rivalries resurface, secrets are revealed and chaos unfolds, but in true theatrical tradition the show must go on.

Oscar-winning writer Sir Ronald Harwood is probably best known for his play, The Dresser.

Sue, who cheerfully admits to entering her 70th year, said: “Ronald said his greatest fear is the loss of his memory. I think a lot of us are the same.

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“There are moments looking after the older generation that are very comical and all four of us in Quartet have those moments.”

She said all the show’s stars can sympathise with the frustration of not being able to remember something and joked one advantage of the show is that if someone forgets their lines, no-one will know if it’s meant to happen or not!

She added: “The film was lovely and charming and wonderful with the chance to bring in real-life professional musicians and singers.

“Ronald Harwood is such a wonderful writer and this is the original play. The more we work with it, the more layers we uncover. It’s terribly funny and very poignant.

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“As audiences we love to be made to laugh and it’s lovely to be made to cry as well.”

She added: “Everyone thinks of (Only Fools and Horses creator) John Sullivan as being a comedy writer but there’s lots of moments in Only Fools where you find a lump in the throat, such as when Boycie and Marlene find they can’t have babies..

“John made audiences cry and laugh better than anyone else. I think that Ronald Harwood has that gift.”

Sue is constantly recognised as Marlene, of course, even by young fans of the show who have seen reruns on the comedy TV channel Gold.

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“When it stops I shall worry. It’s very comforting. Quite often people shout ‘Marlene’ and do the Boycie laugh.

“Quite often schoolkids see me and say, ‘it’s Marlene’.

“That’s because they’ve been forced to watch it by their fan parents!”

She attends a lot of fan conventions and also speaks about her career on board P&O cruises.

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