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Kit turned down roles to look after the girls when I got The Bill.. I do feel guilty; CHRISTINE SMITH INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVE: THE BILL'S TRUDIE GOODWIN ON HER IDEAL HUSBAND.

Byline: CHRISTINE SMITH

SHE may be Britain's long-serving television bobby but The Bill's Trudie Goodwin is much happier when people mistake her for "that lady from the chemists" than her screen alter-ego Sgt June Ackland.

Even though the actress has been in the show since its first episode on August 16, 1983, Trudie, 49, still hates fame and shies away from the glare of the public spotlight.

Indeed she rarely gives interviews and it took my best diplomatic skills to persuade her to join me for lunch today. Heaven knows why she worries. Tough talking Sgt June Ackland is a national institution, who has pounded every corridor at Sun Hill police station and arrested almost every type of criminal.

Alongside Mark Wingett, alias PC Jim Carver, Trudie is the only original cast member left.

"They call me the dame of the show because I have been here so long," she says.

"I know it sounds boring but I still like playing her after all this time.

"She is the kind of police officer you would like to deal with. She is very straightforward, plays by the book."

Gracious and ladylike, Trudie dislikes the idea of being a star despite the fact Prince William recently told her he was her No1 fan at a recent party.

"I suppose that is where June and I are so different," Trudie says. "Her job is everything. That is not the case with me. I tend to leave the job at work.

"I never wanted to be famous anyway. Not like some actresses these days."

This is interesting. What does she mean? The "Dame" takes a deep breath.

"I am going to sound like an old fogey but I do get upset by actresses when it is all about what most revealing dress you are wearing, what you look like. Breast implants.

"I think we have lost a lot of the ground, we as women, gained in the 60s and 70s. It was not quite burning a bra but it was all about equality.

"Now look at the image. Kelly Brook is gorgeous but I saw her the other day in this dress. It wasn't a dress. It was not even bra and knickers.

"The whole Geri Halliwell thing... she is pretty skinny. These days you can't see anyone who is overweight, who is not perfectly proportioned, facially and physically.

"I do worry. My children are very healthy but you never really know, do you?"

She has two teenage daughters, Jessica and Eleanor.

"Thankfully", they have shown no signs of following in her footsteps, Trudie exclaims.

Nor their father's. Kit is an actor she met 24 years ago at Leicester's Phoenix Theatre where they were starring in a play together.

The couple got engaged after one week, married two years later in 1979 at Camden Register Office and have lived in South London pretty much ever since.

"I knew I was going to marry Kit after seven days," she sighs.

"He is just so wonderful. And he turned down acting jobs to stay at home with the girls because I got the job on The Bill."

"I feel guilty about that sometimes. But hopefully in the future I will be able to redress the balance.

"The girls adore him and it worries me because they might have trouble finding a bloke who matches up."

She is a very proud mum and fondly regales me with stories about them. Eleanor, now 13, is the loud cheeky one while Jessica, 18, bears a striking resemblance to her. She is in the middle of a round-the-world trip.

"I hated seeing Jessie go," she says.

YOU have spent every aching minute worrying where they are. You know everything about them. And then gradually you have to let the rope out bit by bit.

"I understand my mum a lot better now than I used to. When I was 40, she would be on the phone saying 'are you eating properly?'

"And you think 'for God's sake, I am 40. Course I can look after myself.' Now I can see why. You don't stop thinking about your children."

Trudie and I are having a very jolly lunch at Teatro Restaurant in London.

Trudie, a size 10, is wearing a cream cashmere jumper, stylish black straight skirt and waist-length black leather jacket. Her blond hair is neatly styled in her trademark bob.

She orders scallops, a green side salad and a glass of Kir.

"I watch what I eat," she explains. I don't have a sweet tooth and I go to the gym frequently.

"My mum used to suffer from osteoporosis and I have learned it can be hereditary, so I have to be careful. Ghastly business."

Trudie's mum Jean, a social worker, died of motor neurone disease three years ago while her dad Ken, a Greek shipping firm executive, had a brain tumour and passed away in 1982.

She puts her fork down. Her voice is quivering. "Excuse me," she whispers.

"Time heals but I miss them terribly," she confides. "The other day a lady in front of me was on the cycling machine in the gym.

"She looked like my mum - her arms, hairstyle. I had to stop myself from touching her.

"When she turned around, of course, it was nothing like my mum. But for five minutes, well..."

She pauses. "Until you have lost a parent, you don't know what it is like."

Trudie shakes her head. "I would love to be able to tell my parents how well the girls are doing. I tell my friends but it is not the same.

"I spoke to my mum nearly every day. I have caught myself even now going to the phone.But it was worse after she died.

"Then I would dial her number. I knew the house was empty and of course you know no one is going to answer but, oh I don't know what you are hoping for. It is terrible."

She sighs. At least she has lots of happy memories. Born in Brockley, South London, Trudie and younger brother David grew up in nearby Eltham.

She attended the local grammar school and was not a particularly good child.

"I was a horrible teenager," she remembers. "Very good when I was younger but not when I was older."

Why? "Oh not that good at school, you know the sort of thing. I did knuckle down at A-levels."

Trudie hated science but enjoyed English, starring in school plays whenever she could.

At 18 she won a place studying English and drama at Darlington College of Arts in northeast England and then went to Exeter College to do a one-year postgraduate teaching course.

"I always wanted to be an actress but everybody kept telling me to get a proper job. I hated it."

Aged 22, her first job was in a Secondary School in Deptford, London.

"It was very hard trying to teach drama when the desks were nailed to the floor," she says, laughing.

"The headmistress was appalling. I think she put me off for good." She lasted in the post just 12 months.

Still based in South London, Trudie set her heart on acting.

And in the meantime she waited on tables and cleaned out toilets.

NOW that was dreadful," she exclaims. "I must tell you about the Gents..."

Ten minutes later, we move on.

After a year as a lavatory cleaner, Trudie got her first job in acting in a London theatre.

By this time it was 1977 and stage plays began to roll in. She had met Kit by then too.

"It was hard," recalls Trudie. "We had bills to pay and we did everything to save enough money for a mortgage. But we were determined to make it."

Six years later a TV producer spotted Trudie and she was asked to star in a pilot episode about a fictional police station with Mark Wingett. She was 31. And so The Bill was born.

Hundreds of actors have come and gone over the past 18 years.

Some like Eric Richard, who played Sgt Bob Cryer, were sacked. Does she worry?

"Oh I always think I am going to go," she replies.

"They have the option to sack you at any time.

"I do not want to be out of work. For women my age it is not that easy. Dame Judi Dench gets everything!

And that nice woman out of The Royle Family."

Sue Johnston? "Yes, that is the one. Lovely. But I am happy.

"I have signed up for another year in The Bill and they are giving me three months off to do a play in the theatre.

"Haven't got a part yet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. After that, who knows?"

Our coffees arrive. Trudie is keen to get home so she can do a spot of gardening.

She is an expert on her rose bushes and shrubs. She loves shopping, too.

"I can't wait for Jessie to get back from her trip. Then we can go on a good old shop. Eleanor is not so keen but I love clothes.

Mind you, I do try to pick things carefully so I won't look like mutton dressed as lamb."

Planning to buy a frock to wear on a night out with Prince William I joke? She goes crimson. "I find it embarrassing that Prince William even knows who I am.

"Apparently he thinks June is great. It is funny because I can't even imagine the Royal Family watching television."

She gets up to leave. Back to her South London home via Buckingham Palace.

Well... maybe not.

christine.smith@mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

BEAT GENERATION: With Mark Wingett in a1983 show; EARLY DAYS: Kit stayed home with Eleanor and Jessica when they were younger
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 28, 2001
Words:1636
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