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MAGGIE'S BACK

Author: Kevin Sadlier
Date: 04/05/1991
Words: 619
          Publication: The Sun Herald
Section: Television
Page: 16
STRANGE things can happen during telephone interviews. Maggie Kirkpatrick was considering what it was like to be back, briefly, in a television soap opera when suddenly her voice broke out into a series of gasps, oohs and ahs.

Television's Freak (her nickname from the long-running Prisoner series) was sounding decidedly freakish.

Then, one long final "aah" and "thank you John, now can I get back to my interview?"

What on earth had happened?

"That was John Hargreaves. He turned up to do his washing and I have this massage thing - two wooden balls on a stick - and he started running it up and down my spine."

Hargreaves, star of such movies as Careful He Might Hear You and the TV mini-series, Heroes, is a friend and neighbour and his washing machine just happened to be broken at the time.

"Someone gave me this contraption as a present," said Kirkpatrick.

In her first television role since the axing of Richmond Hill, in September, 1988, Kirkpatrick turns up this week on Channel 7's Home And Away next Friday.

"I play Auntie Jean, the aunt of Emily Symons' character Marilyn. This was a whole new world for me, love. I had to look at the show to see whose Auntie I was playing.

"I must say I was quite delighted to find that it was young Emily because I worked with her on Richmond Hill so that was a nice reunion. She's got a very bubbly little character there. She's a terrific kid. I did most of my work on the series with Emily and young Nicolle Dickson.

"My character had actually raised Marilyn and she has come along to collect her dues. She's looking for somewhere to live-you know that 'after all I've done for you' type of business.

"It was really nice to be back in a television studio. But it was all too short, only three weeks. One week to establish the character, one week to get her going and a week to get rid of her."

And so Maggie Kirkpatrick is out of work, again: "I've got nothing now until October when I will be doing a play at the Marian Street Theatre in Killara."

"It was just lovely to be working again. This is an awful time for actors, we are living in a terrible climate. Oh love, it's bad, yes it is. It's a long time between pay packets."

Kirkpatrick was sounding understandably bitter. She still gets heaps of fan mail ("more than I can afford to reply to") from around the world, wherever Prisoner is screening, but does not get any residual payments for her work on the series.

"I guess, you know, if everything was healthy here, if we really had a thriving industry here, one wouldn't feel so strongly about it or wouldn't feel so hurt about it, but you just think 'here I am waiting for the phone to ring'.

"Prisoner has made a lot of money around the world, particularly in England. Still it's nice to know you are loved on the other side of the world."

 
The Sydney Morning Herald

CHANCE TO LOOK BACK AND LAUGH AT 1955

Author: Nicole Taylor
Date: 14/11/1991
Words: 712
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Northern Herald
Page: 11
MAGGIE Kirkpatrick describes Sailor Beware, the play in which she stars at Marian Street Theatre this month, as "one big, long, mother-in-law joke -which would probably anger feminists today".

"Remember, it's a 1955 play, and so the attitudes are of that time," she said.

It was written the year Kirkpatrick graduated from high school in Newcastle.

"People of my generation fought long and hard to get rid of those attitudes," she said, "but we also must look back at what was - as though we're doing Restoration comedy, where we'd have to research what people were like in that time.

"I just happen to remember what people were like in 1955."

She said that to enjoy Sailor Beware, a younger audience should approach it from the level that it is 1955 humour. For Kirkpatrick and her contemporaries that is unnecessary.

"They will laugh with recognition," Kirkpatrick said. "Some of the younger audiences will think, 'Oh God, did people really go on like that?' But we will also have people in the audience who will remember an auntie who was like Emma.

"There is an older clientele up there and they'll remember that."

The classic English comedy is about the wedding of Emma Harnett's only daughter, Shirley. Emma, played by Kirkpatrick, is the archetypical interfering mother-in-law-to-be.

The bridegroom, a sailor, is constantly plagued by Emma's "you know what sailors are like" comments, and there are traumatic scenes with the spinster aunt, jilted 20 years ago, who lives with the Hornetts.

All the ingredients of vintage 1955 working-class comedy are there: the downtrodden husband who escapes to his backyard hobby; the flighty, flirtatious niece; the ever-present next-door neighbours.

Most of all, the play is entertainment.

"People think it's always got to have a message," Kirkpatrick said. "I'm not a teacher, I'm not an educator - I'm an entertainer, I'm an actor.

"And that's what I love about Marian Street. You can have a jolly old time and see good stuff that gives you a good night out."

This is Kirkpatrick's third appearance at Marian Street. The first was in 1979 in The Druld's Nest, then there was Absurd Person Singular in 1986.

Kirkpatrick is probably best known for her television role as the prison warden in Prisoner, a role she laments at times.

Although the show ended in 1986, she still receives fan mail from countries where Prisoner is shown.

That role was only one in more than 25 years as an actor.

"I've had some lovely experiences," she said, "having the sheer joy of working with Sir Michael Redgrave, and watching him work, and learning so much from him in A Voyage Round My Father."

Other highlights were co-starring with Nancye Hayes in Robyn Archer's Sideshow Alley at the Paris Theatre, and two Patrick White plays, A Cheery Soul and The Ham Funeral.

"Sadly, I suppose, there are umpteen people out there who think that it(Prisoner ) is all I've ever done, but I do know there are others who know about the theatre work as well. That's the saving grace.

"It would be terrible going to the grave being remembered for one television role."

The most important things in Kirkpatrick's life are her close friends, her family, her two-year-old grandson and doing a good job.

She is passionate about things that appal and anger her, such as the hopelessness of the drought-affected farmers and families coping with the recession.

Kirkpatrick, who is often cast in strong roles, seeks out the vulnerable in every character.

"You can't just play a strong, commanding sort of character," she said. "You've got to show another dimension to them."

 
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