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'TellyCon 2 Convention' (1988)
Andrew StockSample clip

 In 1988 werd Linda Thorson geïnterviewd door Andrew Stock voor de tweede TellyCon bijeenkomst in Birmingham. Linda kon niet aanwezig zijn op de conventie aangezien ze op dat ogenblik repeteerde voor een toneelstuk in Chichester. Het interview werd opgenomen in de tuin van het Chichester theater op een zonnige dag.

Hieronder vindt u de Engelse tekst.

Andrew: “Hello, this is Andrew Stock, the guest coordinator from TellyCon, the British telly fantasy convention. It’s a great pleasure and privilege today to be at the Chichester Theatre talking to the lovely Linda Thorson. Linda hello.”

Linda Thorson: “Hello, Andrew.”

Andrew: “Right, you are currently rehearsing the 'Ring Around the Moon’ for the Chichester festival, could you tell us something about the play?”

Linda Thorson: “Yes, what can I tell you about the play? Well, the first thing I can tell you about the play is that I did the play 20 years ago and I’m doing it now and I’m playing the same part. So we have a director who wants it to be terribly French and the part is described as a 22-year old and so as we doing it in the terribly French way I’m not a 22-year old so the younger man falls in love with the older woman, as the French do. I mean as lot of nations do, hopefully. And we have a wonderful cast, I’m sure you recognise some of the names. José Ferrer has come from America and he plays my father, Googie Withers, Matt Ryan, June Whitfield a young actress Holly Aird who I’m sure you will hear a lot of, Michael Siberry and the play is, it all takes places in a chateau in France. It was written by Jean Anouilh and translated by Christopher Fry who is a resident of Chichester and he has been at the rehearsals. He’s 80 years old, well he was 80 at the first day, which is why I think John Gielgud, the director of the theatre choose to do this particular play. And he’s been at the rehearsals and it’s just magical to have him there. I mean he has written some of the … he’s probably our greatest living play writer. He called it ‘Ring Around the Moon’ because he was doing a crossword puzzle during the time he was translating it and he couldn’t, he didn’t like calling it ‘The Invitation to the Chateau’. So he, he didn’t know what to call it and so he was doing this crossword puzzle and he looked up the clue was ‘ring around the Moon’ and there’s a word for that and so he thought I just call it ‘Ring Around the Moon’. I could tell you the whole story of the play but better yet you could all come and see it."

Andrew: “Off course, I’m sure a lot of people will do.”

Linda Thorson: “That would be great.”

Andrew: “Right, you seem to work mostly in the United States, what was it that attracted you back to this lovely country again?”

Linda Thorson: “Back here, well, what attracted me was doing some theatre, doing a good play. Well, in fact I have done a lot of theatre in America and I did two well-known British plays, that have been done in the West End ‘Steaming’ by Nell Dunn and ‘Noises Off’ by Michael Frayn and I did both those plays on Broadway. I had quite long runs in both of them but it has been a long time since I’ve been here so I did a series last year for Paramount and NBC called ‘Marblehead Manor’ which was a bit of a take off on ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ and John Cleese’s series.”

Andrew: Fawlty Towers.”
Andrew Stock & Linda Thorson
Linda Thorson: “Fawlty Towers. And so I did that last year and at the end of that time we had a sort of (?) and I was of for a film in Greece. I went to Greece and did the movie, January February March, it was a very extended proposition and then I came back through London where I haven’t been for a long time. And I had my son and the nanny with me and we stayed for six weeks and I ran into Duncan Weldon who is a great impresario here and he said why don’t you stay here and do something. So then the part came up at Chichester and I went to see them about the part and they offered it to me and I went back to Los Angeles for six weeks too. Arranged my life there and came back so I was attracted by simply by the fact that I wanted to do a play and also persuaded by the fact that there’s a writers strike in America and it has been going on since the end of February and looks as if it will go on until September and it’s just not everyone’s sideways, there’s no work so I’m very pleased to be here."

Andrew: “You’re Canadian by birth, how did you begin your acting career here?”

Linda Thorson: “I came here at the age of sixteen and auditioned, in all my naivety, for RADA, thinking that I just get in I had always heard about the Royal Academy and thought that that would be a great place to study. So I came when I was sixteen and I auditioned and, probably because I had no idea how difficult it was to get in, I was accepted. After I left the Academy I did one play with Susannah York and Ian McShane called ‘A Month in the Country’ and they filmed it for American television and during that time I met a director called John Huston who is now dead.  And John Huston was making a film called ‘Sinful Davey’ and I auditioned for the part and he liked me very much for the part. And then he cast John Hurt and John is quite a small man and I’m quite a tall girl. John Hurt had to take me out to dinner and tell me that I wasn’t going to play the part; Pamela Franklin in fact played the part. He took me to ‘Rules’ for dinner and I remember I had been a vegetarian whole through drama school because I didn’t have any money. It was so expensive to go to the butcher’s. He took me to ‘Rules’ and I had this great steak and he said he wasn’t going to be able to let me play the part but he has a good friend Robert Lennard who was casting the takeover for Diana Rigg in ‘The Avengers’ series. So he said I send you to see him, so I went home and rang my friends and said oh I’m going to get this part in a series, John Huston arranged the whole thing. And I went to the audition there were 200 other girls sitting there. So that’s how I started in this country because then I did get the part and I stayed on.”

Andrew: “Is it true that you created the name of the character?”

Linda Thorson: “I did, because first of all I wanted her to be Miss as they’d always had Mrs. because in their opinion it was not the done thing for the idea to be perhaps she stayed overnight perhaps she didn’t but at least she was a married woman so that made her ... and I thought that was a dreadful idea for a married woman to be staying all night. I thought it is much better if she’s a single girl. And so I liked that idea and I also thought that the character would fall in love with John Steed because he was, if you worked closely with a man like John Steed you would fall in love with him if you were a young girl, he just be irresistible. And then Tara was from ‘Gone with the Wind’, which is my favourite movie and the estate was called Tara and so I liked that name and then King I suppose the idea ‘for King and Country’, so I did get to choose the name and I think it’s a great name. I still do.”

Linda ThorsonAndrew: “By this time John Bryce had taken over as the new producer was there a conscious decision to change the direction of the program do you think?”

Linda Thorson: “John Bryce was the producer when I was taken into the series. Yes, because I think I remember that it was between Mary Peach, Tracy Reed and myself. It went from 200 to 50 then they screen-tested 25 and then there were 8 of us. And then I went to a health farm and tried to lose weight and then there were three of us and then they came and told me that I gotten the part and I think we were the last three. Now we’re very, very different age wise and type wise. I think John wanted to persuade them to go for someone younger and there was great uproar because I was Canadian and I think every British actress thought that they should ..., I mean it was a wonderful opportunity.”

Andrew: “But your accent didn’t come across, it’s beautiful.”

Linda Thorson: “Well, that’s all thanks to Kate Fleming who’s now dead who was my voice and speech coach at RADA and she worked very hard with me. Because when I arrived the kids said I sounded like Donald Duck and I had a lot of nasal tone, which is Canadian. But anyway that is … hmm, what was the question?”

Andrew: “About John Bryce taken over.”

Linda Thorson: “Oh, well yes, he was a conscious decision but as you know John Bryce was short-lived and part of that was due to the fact that I think that Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell had not really been pleased with their decision to leave and they did want to come back and Patrick wanted them back. I was John Bryce’s girl, you know, he brought me in and I was very sad to see him leave and I think that it was difficult for me and for Brian and Albert because they came back and I had not been their choice, they were lumbered with me as to were because there was a contract and there had been all the publicity. But we did work things out and Albert in particular I was able to get close to and I think Brian is a brilliant man.”

Andrew: “Yeah, very clever writer.”

Linda Thorson: “Very, very clever man, brilliant man. So there we are, the direction changed and then they tried to change it back I mean they bleached my hair blond for instance because I think after I was cast then I think Brian and Albert were afraid I was too like Diana. I don’t think that we are particularly alike; I mean we’re very different as personalities even though we might sometimes look a bit similar. But anyway then they came back in and put it back the way they wanted it.”

Andrew: “Did it create any problems following in the footsteps of Diana Rigg?”

Linda Thorson: “I think the main problem was that we filmed it for a year before it was on television. So, I was extremely trepidatious about how the public would receive me. I mean, I got letters that said ‘how dare you, take over, who do you think you are, we’ll never love you’. And then after it had been on the air for about a month I had letters some apologising and others saying you know you’re great, you’re different and you're fine and we like you. But, Diana is an extremely accomplished, very much loved actress. Off course when you’re twenty you’ve got a lot of guts and a lot of audacity and I, I thought I’d won the part through enthusiasm and I wasn’t going to be knocked out by anyone else, I was going to go and capture my own audience. As you get older you know, you learn more and more that you know less and less. But at the age of twenty I think it was, I was fortunate to not have those, you know, to still have that fearlessness of a young person and just go in. Fortunately people did accept me and I did play it very differently as well."

Andrew: “So was the karate chop, you used to pick up anything.”

Linda ThorsonLinda Thorson: “Yes, anything at all and it was sort of more feminine and being in love with Steed and showing affection and asking him for help and be terribly glad to see him when something had gone wrong or I’d been captured or missing. Anyway, the truth of it is that the public do get over, they do forget you and you have to remember when you’re a big star that as soon as you're not there they forget you. Actually the English public I think are wonderful because they are terribly loyal and they do remember. As I come back now I feel very welcome. I think as it is a less disposable society. In America if you have done a series you don’t get asked to dinner parties anymore. I think the English people are much nicer about all those things. They forget, and after accepting a new person, but they don’t forget the other person.”

Andrew: “Was it intended that there should be a crossover episode between Diana Rigg and yourself? Or was it decided later in production?”

Linda Thorson: “To my memory it was planned, it wasn’t planned to do it first and it wasn’t done first. It was about the third episode. But yes they wanted her to, and I think from the idea that her husband turned up and came back from the jungle and that there would be a line it would be very brief. But we would … I  … as far as I know, yes that it was planned.”

Andrew: “It is difficult to see how you could have topped the series at that time. Do you think that it would have ended anyway?”

Linda Thorson: “I mean, to my knowledge the reason that the series ended was because we were slaughtered in America, where most … ninety percent of the finance came from, opposite a series called ‘The Laugh-In’. It was a great backhanded compliment because we were the best competition that ABC had to put next to them. But our ratings just took a nosedive because, I don’t know if you know what ‘Laugh-In’ is, but it was a very amusing program. Sort of like ‘Saturday night Live’, it was a very funny show which was one of those shows if you hadn’t watched it the night before there was nothing to talk about at the office. So everybody watched it because they compared notes and it was an extremely successful show and our ratings went down and that’s really why I think they called the plug on ‘The Avengers’. I also think that the spy-vogue was dying, was seeing its final days and I think when they did ‘The New Avengers’ it was never the same. Because it wasn’t … I mean the world …we had spies in Russia … I mean it was … what was actually happening in the world that incredibly subtle send up of the establishment in England and then things changed here. So it just wasn’t as apposite anymore.”

Andrew: “In this country, as we just talked about, in particular the art of making a filmed series such as ‘The Avengers’ (?) Do you think that we shall ever see anything like it again?”

Linda Thorson: “The thing about ‘The Avengers’ is that it actually grew from a live show where Patrick and Honor would doing, doing it live to 26 episodes, no, yes 26 episodes in black and white with Diana and then another 30 in colour and then all of mine in colour…"

(het interview moet onderbroken worden door een luidruchtige aankondiging voor een toneelstuk dat gaat beginnen)

Linda Thorson: “I think, the fact that ‘The Avengers’ grew from being a taped series live and then a taped series and then a black and white series and then in colour. I think that its evolution we won’t see anything like that again because nothing will start, everything will start the way it is. I think that a series that sold as it was to 79 countries with that unique fascination of the first time that you saw a man and a woman in a relationship that was not defined, you didn’t know what went on between them but you knew there was a lot of affection, they were working partners, it was the first time you saw a woman in that kind of role where she was looking after herself…"

(opnieuw moet het interview onderbroken worden voor een aankondiging “will you kindly take your seats, the performance will begin in three minutes”)

Andrew: “Which do you prefer film, television or theatre?”

Linda Thorson: “Easy, I prefer theatre. However if you get a wonderful part in a movie that’s, you know I mean, it’s very rare. That’s great to do. I also, the series I mentioned before, ‘Marblehead Manor’ that I did last year, was a very good experience because we rehearsed Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then we performed and taped it for camera tape in front of a live audience. So, it was sort of like rehearsing for a movie and doing it on camera for a television but a live audience for a play so I thought it kind of covered everything. I thought it was the best. And it was really a nine-to-five job as well, which I thought was great. Sometimes the theatre is a bit tough if you are trying to have a relationship when you’re never home till eleven at night, you know.”

Andrew: “You also got yourself in some sort of self-defence program for women. Could you tell us something about that?”

Linda ThorsonLinda Thorson: “Well, it emerged because of this film that I did in Greece and I met a man called Kostas (?) who is a master of self-defence techniques and he was doing the stunts on the movie and ended up playing a part in the movie. We started talking about it and I began reading the English newspapers again and I was amazed, they always say it so safe in England, you know, you can go out and jog at night and things. And you don’t have to have 15 locks on your door and I started reading and I couldn’t believe how many incidents of women being attacked and murdered and raped and all this. So I started talking about this and talking to him he’d been putting together these techniques over a long time so we just said let’s put a video together. We should have it made so that it is on the market by Christmas, hopefully. I mean, I hope that, I hope women will be interested in buying it because it has nothing to do with being strong or knowing judo or karate these are simply techniques which help you understand where a man is vulnerable, where you shouldn’t be when, how to be aware of the possibility of  … that 90 percent of the time you are in a position this might happen to you and that really everything around you is a weapon, virtually everything you wear and that you have about your person or in your home is a weapon. It’s … I mean self-defence techniques what they mean is, these are techniques for weaker people and that the video is called ‘Mind over Muscle’ and it is, it’s not showing people that they have to be, you know, gorilla’s. It’s showing you that you are weaker than a man and when a man attacks you that there are techniques that might help you. And I figure if it could save us one woman from dying, you know what I mean. So that’s what I’m working on.”

Andrew: “Tara was very resourceful and used anything to hand.”

Linda Thorson: “The brick in the handbag.”

Andrew: “Although she actually became more physical, who was responsible for the stunts and how many did you do yourself?”

Linda Thorson: “I did a lot of the stunts myself, the man responsible was Ray Austin to begin with and … no that’s not true. The man responsible to begin with was, for me, was Joe Dunne. But Ray Austin had done all the stunts with Diana and then he started directing, he directed his first episode and he went on to direct all of the Magnum PI’s Tom Selleck series and many, many other things in America and he’s hugely rich and successful and lives in Los Angeles with his wife Wendy. I think that they found that I could do these things. Cyd Child was my double on the series and she did some, you know, a lot of the really difficult stuff and throws but I was very, very enthusiastic and it was only the insurance company who actually said no you can’t do those things but I did things like jumping from 16 ft into boxes and … Romo Gorarra drove the Lotus for me and the AC. He was this really good-looking guy, still is somewhere, who used to put on my wigs and clothes and get in the car and do fantastic stunts. But I think as they felt more confident about me they let me do more and more. They realised that that was the key to the series that the girl did do physical action.”

Andrew: “Which of the two cars did you prefer? The original AC Cobra was a very aggressive car, they changed to a Lotus Europa design to soften Tara’s image you think?”

Linda Thorson: “Oh, the AC Cobra was the car, I mean I was mad about it. I don’t know why though I really don’t know why they changed it. I guess because Diana had a Lotus or they had a deal with Lotus it was probably all to do with money. But that Cobra was a beautiful car, I loved driving it, it was automatic it was great.”

Andrew: “She was very much a more flamboyant and feminine character Tara wasn’t she?”

Linda Thorson: “Well, yes and that was by design I mean it was ... she was softer, she wore wigs, she liked to dress up and there were other episodes where I wore a towel around my head and one time I was in a bathing suit with glasses, I mean I know Diana had a lot of different, but it was me that was more me. That’s more the way I am, you know.”
Linda Thorson
Andrew: “Did you have a say in the costumes you wore?”

Linda Thorson: “Not really, Alun Hughes did the costumes and he was wonderful he was brilliant, I don’t know where he is now I haven’t seen him for a long time. I liked wearing the mini stuff and the boots, some of the stuff I found rather uncomfortable and I wasn’t so crazy about it. But, no I mean I don’t really have a say in it, no, I was told wear that. You look good in that.”

Andrew: “Out of all the episodes you made, you have a favourite episode?”

Linda Thorson: “I have, yes, Pandora. Pandora was my favourite episode by a long shot because I did get to play a different character and really required … I mean more acting I thought. It was playing a part. And I thought it was an enchanting episode and the wedding dress was so beautiful that they made for me it was on … we had a photograph on the cover of TV-Times in that. And one of my favourite people, Julian Glover, was in that episode as well. So, yes that’s definitely my favourite.”

Andrew: “You spent quite a lot of time in France after the series, did you?”

 Linda Thorson: “Yes I did. Well Patrick and I received the ‘Prix Triomphe’ at the ‘Théâtre Marinier’ and we went there to receive this was the best actor and actress award in France. God only knows they didn’t have anything else on French television so no wonder we won at the time. Now they have all sorts of things but we went there and we met this incredible woman Yanna Culla (?) who came to us and said you have agents in France and we both said no. I ended up moving in and sharing her flat doing a movie in Paris staying there for about a year and I think every single girl ought to spend a year in Paris. It’s great.”

Andrew: “Did you and Patrick (?) ever outlive scenes? There seem to be a very warm relationship between you both.”

Linda Thorson: “Yes, but no, we did get to change things before we shot them and we … especially do you mean Patrick Newell or Patrick Macnee?”

Andrew: “Both.”

Linda Thorson: “Well, Patrick Macnee and I did get to do things with the tag scene, the final little scene. We got to put (?) in there and Pat Macnee was good at throwing the odd thing in but most of the time it was set before. No not direct from the script but directly from what we worked on before we actually shot the scene. I mean it wasn’t, it wasn’t shot that way it was on one camera you know the old Aeroflex movie camera and it was all filmed, you couldn’t suddenly say something from over there because the person wasn’t on camera. It was set but we were free to inject our personalities more and more, I was anyway, Patrick off course was been doing it for years."

Andrew: “You still keep in touch?”

Linda ThorsonLinda Thorson: “Patrick and I have become much closer since I moved to Los Angeles because he has a home in Palm Springs and in La Jolla. And in fact we had lunch in the Polo launch. Patrick’s favourite thing is to have a couple of girlfriends to the Polo launch for lunch and even now that he has married Baba four months ago, she’s wonderful, she’s a contemporary of his they’re the same age. Best thing he’s ever done marrying her, she’s a wonderful Hungarian ZsaZsa kind of figure. Patrick has always the funniest stories to tell and he always has clips from newspapers and all little bits of gossip and things to tell us. He still just this incredible character as he was in the beginning. Because when I came on he, you know Honor and Diana and he had been doing the series for years and I was a young girl, inexperienced. And he could have just said, you know he could have not been bothered but he took me under his wing, he taught me, he coached me, he put up with me, he was kind to me, he championed me, he was chivalrous, he was good and I’m so grateful for that because it gave me a lot of confidence that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Andrew: “A lovely man.”

Linda Thorson: “Yes, a lovely man.”

Andrew: “Is there anything else you like to add?”

Linda Thorson: “Well I would like to add that I wish I was there right now and a brief explanation and I know nobody wants to know, you just want to know why isn’t she here, is that I am working as you see at Chichester and I rented a house in Bognor Regis you people up there would probably not know where that is it just begins with the same letter B. But it’s very near Chichester and is between Chichester and Brighton and when my agent rang me and asked me if I would like to do this with Andrew I said I would love to, especially because it’s for a charity. So, I thought that I could just nip over to Brighton because she said it’s on Saturday in Brighton and then I got the letter from Andrew and it said we’re looking forward to see you in Birmingham and I just could never have gotten there because we are rehearsing Friday night and for some of the time on Saturday morning so that’s my excuse, I’m sticking to it, it’s the truth and I do hope that you all enjoying yourselves and I do wish I was there. And have a lot of fun. I hope this hasn’t been boring. I hope you did enjoy hearing about this.”

Andrew: “Linda Thorson, thank you very much. I’m sure a lot of people will come to Chichester and support you in ‘Ring around the Moon’.”

Linda Thorson: “I hope they will, and maybe to the West End and that is even closer you can come to London.”

Andrew: “Yes, thank you.”

Linda Thorson: “Thanks Andrew.”

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