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One to one; `She's bossy and fussy . . . even as a child she made me swop our socks when hers got dirty'.

TWINS LIZ AND LAURA CARLING WERE BORN IN MIDDLESBROUGH 28 YEARS AGO, LIZ FIRST, LAURA 10 MINUTES LATER. LIZ STARS IN TV'S GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART AND LIVES WITH NEIL MORRISSEY OF MEN BEHAVING BADLY. LAURA IS A COLLEGE LECTURER. TODAY THEY SHARE A ONE TO ONE WITH IAN HYLAND. PICTURES BY ANDY McCARTNEY

LIZ ON LAURA

My first recollection of Laura is sitting watching films on TV with mum while she went round the house tidying up. It was so funny, her popping in every 10 minutes and saying, "Has it finished yet?" then toddling off again when we said no. She was obsessed with cleanliness and was forever putting things "in order". And she had this thing about her socks. She couldn't bear it if they got dirty. We'd be out walking with mum, and Laura would stop and demand her socks were turned inside out because the outside was dirty. Then, when that side had got dirty, she would sit me down and swap her dirty ones for my clean ones. I was such a placid child I just let her do it!

Laura was always the practical one; she had to be doing something with her hands. So it was Laura the knitting expert and Laura the crochet queen, whereas I was quite happy on my own. I suppose I was a bit of a loner. I'd either walk around the house singing, or disappear to the bathroom and make up stories in there. The sponge was a scary monster on more than one occasion. I used to play with Laura quite a lot as well. We shared a bedroom and had bunk beds we turned into an It's A Knockout course; ladders and pillows made for fantastic obstacles.

Even though Laura was the bossy one, we took it in turns for the top bunk and if there was any argument it was sorted out with a kick fight.

At senior school, we started doing our own things more. We had different friends and although we were still incredibly close, the teenage years were the falling out years, just like they are for any sisters. But we never hated each other. Even when we started going out at weekends, we'd end up meeting in a pub for last orders. I don't think we ever went out on the pull together though.

I moved to London when I was 18 and that's the first time we were properly apart. We used to phone, but I've got to admit I was having a great adventure and was far too busy to miss home that much.

But one morning I woke up and just knew something was wrong with Laura. When I got through to mum I just said, "What's happened to Laura?" Sure enough, she'd been rushed to hospital for a quite serious operation.

We only see each other occasionally these days, but it's really funny when we're introduced to people. They get upset that we don't look that alike! I look more like my dad, with his Roman nose. Laura has a button nose like mum's.

LAURA ON LIZ

The first thing I remember about Elizabeth was her having a fit as a toddler. Mum was yelling at me to get a flannel to put in her mouth so she didn't bite her tongue. The problem was, I use to love sucking flannels, so I'm standing at the kitchen door with this flannel in my mouth while mum's yelling at me with her fingers in my convulsing twin's mouth. Luckily, Elizabeth was okay.

Even though we were twins we were quite different. While I was doing things around the house she'd be watching TV and pretending she was in the films, or sitting with a towel on her head pretending to be the Virgin Mary. I think that's when we knew she was going to be an actress! Our mum was keen for us to have our own identity and we stopped dressing the same when we were about six.

We were totally different characters and I know I was the bossy one, but that's probably something to do with her being so laid-back and messy . . . I won't say she was scruffy, but she wasn't far off!

We shared a room and had great fun playing there, but Elizabeth was equally happy on her own. It was good that we had different interests. She had singing lessons and mum asked me if I wanted them too, but I was happier knitting or something like that. At senior school we went our separate ways a bit. We still hung around together at home but had our own friends. We fell out occasionally, but nothing serious. She was so messy and it used to infuriate me. At that age there's no room for being rational. I was right, she was wrong!

Elizabeth was the first one to start going to nightclubs and she would come home and tell me all these stories about her night out but I didn't go until a year later. She was at a different college to me by then and our friends didn't do the same things. When she moved to London I was pretty upset. It was like my right arm had been cut off and I couldn't sleep. But I used to visit and we had some great times, although some places she lived in were a total mess.

As twins we had a lot of spooky coincidences when we were young, and it still happens now. When she got her big TV break in the series Boon - that's where she met her boyfriend Neil - her character turned out to be called Laura.

But the weirdest thing happened at a friend's birthday party. We were forever turning up with the same card or present, but this time I thought it couldn't happen because Elizabeth had been in Hong Kong. But she had bought an embroidered, jewellery box the same as I'd got in Newcastle!
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Hyland, Ian
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 11, 1997
Words:1000
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