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AMANDA Barrie is one of Coronation Street's biggest stars. Over the past two weeks we have revealed her amazing life story; how she was asked to teach Prince Charles the art of love; and how she became the target of a killer stalker.

Here in the final part of our exclusive series Amanda - known to millions as the Street's cafe owner Alma Baldwin - takes ANNE BARROWCLOUGH through her favourite family snaps.

MY mother and I were on holiday in Babbacombe, Devon, in 1959, when this photograph was taken. I was 23. My mother's bust was huge and I always used to pray that I would not end up as large as she was.

I think God listened too well because I ended up with no bust at all.

By this time my mother was living with me. Her second husband, with whom she had another daughter, had died and she and my little sister were sleeping in my tiny flat in Covent Garden.

There were times I felt like Saffi in Absolutely Fabulous. Like Saffi, I was the old, wise one dragging my mother out of lunatic situations.

She was, however, a great beauty and I always felt that I couldn't measure up to her on the looks stakes.

Whenever my father introduced me to friends he would say, 'This is my daughter, she's never going to be a great beauty like her mother' and I ended up believing that I was monstrously plain.

Sweet success at three

I WAS only three when I won my first competition at a seaside show, singing I'm Just A Little Girl Looking For A Little Boy To Love. The prize was a box of chocolates.

Whenever we went on holiday my mother would pack my tap shoes and music sheets in with the bucket and spade and if there wasn't enough room, the bucket and spade would have to go.

She entered me in every competition going. Once when we were on holiday she realised she'd forgotten my sheet music so she barged into a rehearsal of the Welsh National Opera, put me on the piano and told me to sing I'm Just a Little Girl to the pianist so he could write it down for me. She was absolutely incorrigible. She was determined that she was going to have a successful dancer as a daughter.

My stage debut was in 1939 as a Christmas tree fairy. My mother came to all my performances, and would always strike a match so I'd know where she was sitting. Years later, during the IRA bomb scares, she lit a match during an Ayckbourn play I was in and security dragged her out.


SUE Nicholls, who plays Audrey Roberts, is one of my best friends in the Street.

We're all so close that we instinctively know how each other is feeling on any given day and we even know how the others will play each scene.

If I'm reading a script I can actually hear Sue's voice saying her part, and what expression she will use.

When I told everyone about my eye they were marvellous to me. They knew when I wanted to talk and when I wanted to be quiet and no one would press me about my eye if I didn't want to discuss it.

I've always believed that Coronation Street is a living animal and if certain actors don't fit in, it chews them up and spits them out.

It is not the producers or the directors who sack an actor, it's the Street.

Some characters become annoying to the audience, however good the actual actors are. Or the actors let their own personalities take over too much.

I know that the first time I appeared in the Street I was no good because I didn't understand how the animal worked.

There is no hierarchy in it as there used to be. Having said that I personally look up to people like Bill Roache who has been there for years.

Then of course there was Pat Phoenix. To me she was Elsie Tanner.

Coronation Street is like a garden which every so often grows one special flower that overshadows everything else.

And Pat was like that. She was larger than life, a woman of huge charisma which never disappeared even when the cameras stopped rolling.

She was a one-off.

The younger actors still come to the rest of us for advice - particularly about their careers.

It's difficult for them, joining something like Coronation Street at the beginning of their acting lives because if they are offered a role in another programme it's a hard choice to make - leaving a steady job for the less reliable world of acting outside it.

Personally, I'm glad I did it this way round.

And if my eye gets so bad that I have to leave the Street, I'm still confident that I will be offered other roles.

My acting life is by no means over.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Barrowclough, Anne
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 14, 1996
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