ACTRESS Gwen Taylor is certainly no stranger to playing memorable characters as she brings her latest role to the Wycombe Swan next month Television soaps thrive on whodunit murder mysteries and it was her character Anne Foster in ITV’s Coronation Street who was unmasked as her son Frank’s killer in March last year.
But she’s returned to theatre in the leading role as Daisy Werthan in the stage adaptation of Oscar-winning film Driving Miss Daisy, which starred Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy.
She said: "I love playing her. She’s so rude and she says exactly what she’s thinking until she realises that there isn’t a place for it necessarily.
"I remember seeing the film years ago when it won the Oscar and I was very impressed. I thought you can’t do any better than that.
"It begins in 1948 when Miss Daisy is 72. She is a Jewish widow with a lot of money and she’s crashed her car. "Her son says enough is enough and we’ll get you a driver."
He hires a kind-hearted black driver called Hoke as her chauffer, played by Death in Paradise star Don Warrington, which doesn’t go down too well with Daisy.
Gwen said: "It’s a battle of wills which ends up with them becoming very great friends and their understanding through 25 years of each others’ company.
"But she still has this strange relationship with her son which doesn’t seem to be based on maternal affection."
At least she is on better terms with her son in the play than her Coronation Street character, a part which has lead to some awkward questions from members of the public.
She said: "I was walking through Edinburgh last night and a man at the bus stop said ‘do you want to kill me today?’ "I didn’t know what he was talking about but then I realised that Coronation Street has so many fans and they remember you forever. It wasn’t what people expected of me and that was fun. "It has been the one which has made people recognise me."
Taylor has also appeared in several television sitcoms, including the popular Duty Free and Barbara, as well as the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
She said: "Someone asked me in Marks and Spencer if I was paying in pesetas and that did take me back to Duty Free. People have such long memories."
Gwen does admit to finding touring more difficult these days though and will be eyeing work closer to home when she finishes her stage work later this year.
She said: "I’ve been touring rather a long time and it’s more of a chore than it used to be.
"I would very much like to be in a nice long-running television programme, like wearing corsets and things - like Downton."
Driving Miss Daisy is at the Wycombe Swan from April 2 to April 6. Tickets are £15.50-£30.50 from 01494 512000 or www.wycombeswan.co.uk
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