Actress and comedian Lizzie Roper has done all sorts of shows but you will probably recognise her as a nosy neighbour spying on what the family across the road are having for dinner.
Lizzie, who is in Sheffield to appear on stage at the Crucible in Rutherford and Son, a drama about a northern family firm in crisis set a century ago, played Mabel in a series of comic TV adverts for Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings.
Mabel and her friend Margaret were permanently amazed that the family was eating a roast dinner on a week night, aided by those frozen Yorkshires. She worked on the adverts for 11 years until the series came to an end last year.
Lizzie also appeared in the long-running soap Hollyoaks, playing policewoman Sam Lomax. She said: “We went in as a new family and she was a mum and a detective.
“She was constantly exploring murder and drugs and her husband was having a gay affair with another teacher I didn’t know about.”
At the Crucible, Lizzie Roper plays Mrs Henderson, whose son gets into trouble with Mr Rutherford. She said: “She sort of puts the cats among the pigeons. I’m playing this working woman who loves a drink and you see the family through all our interactions.
“Halfway through I come in calling for my son’s job back. I turn into a vicious animal and just go on the attack and spill all the family’s secrets and walk out, having spread chaos. It’s delicious to do.
“You wouldn’t openly invite this woman into your house.”
She added: “The village are talking and Mr Rutherford is the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on.”
Rutherford fights to save his factory as the family he seeks to control falls apart around him.
Lizzie said: “It’s such a good play. Any job you do you have to get invested in but it’s easy to with this one.”
She said that the story, set in 1910, shows the contrast between what men got away with and what women had to put up with.
The writer, Githa Sowerby, came from a family who had a glass firm in the North East whose work is still sought after by collectors.
“Sowerby Glass was this extraordinary glass manufacturer. The factory was five acres big and had offices in Paris and Hamburg and connections with America,” said Lizzie.
“Her father takes it on and he wasn’t the greatest businessman.
“He ends up selling shares in the company and doesn’t retain the primary shareholding and loses control.
“He was an artist and ends up coming out of the factory and becomes a painter. Both she and her sister were also painters.”
She said Githa felt trapped by what was expected of a woman of her class, confined to home and family.
Lizzie was recently on stage at Sheffield City Hall in comedy show Grumpy Old Women, alongside comedians Jenny Eclair and Dillie Keane.
She said she ‘fell into’ doing comedy in the 1990s, performing cabaret and stand-up: “I’d known Jenny Eclair for years. For years she’s been saying, ‘When are you going to be old enough to do this’? Last October they wanted me to audition. I said, ‘I’m old enough now, am I?’!”
Rutherford and Son is at the Crucible, Sheffield from February 8 to 23. Tickets: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk