Shocks in the snug at the Rover’s Return

Miss Nugent and Miss Tatlock talk jazz

TVTimes masthead
From the TVTimes for week commencing 24 September 1961

SAID the voice from the snug of the Rover’s Return, indignantly: “I can’t stand traditional jazz!” An argument about traditional jazz? In the heart of Ena Sharples’ territory? It seemed unlikely. I had to investigate.

More shocks — in the snug.

The combatants turned out to be Miss Nugent (Eileen Derbyshire) and Valerie Tatlock (Anne Reid). And the argument had been raging through the lunch-break during rehearsals of Coronation Street.

The gentle Miss Nugent — actually arguing?

Eileen Derbyshire
Eileen Derbyshire – she likes “trad”

“People don’t realise,” said Eileen, spiritedly, “I’m not a bit gentle off the set. I like a good, meaty argument. Particularly when it comes to traditional jazz.”

Anne bristled. Any reference to traditional jazz is distasteful to her. “I’m a modern jazz fan,” she said.

“When did you decide to become an actress, Eileen?” I asked, hastily.

“On a double-decker bus,” said Eileen. “I was a drama teacher at the time.

“One night I was travelling home to Urmston when I saw the posters outside the Chorlton Repertory Theatre, Manchester. I don’t know what happened. I just got off the bus and asked if I could join the company.”

Eileen did an audition.

“They offered me a job — but told me the theatre was in danger of closing.

“Three months later the theatre shut its doors and I was out of work.

“I tramped round the repertory companies — and eventually arrived at the Century Mobile Theatre, at Nantwich, Cheshire,” she said.

They gave her a job.

Eileen worked with several repertory companies all over the North before joining Coronation Street.

Eileen leads an active, outdoor life.

She likes walking — “preferably in wild country,” said Eileen.

“I also do a lot of reading. And I go to concerts — all kinds of concerts.

“The Hallé — and jazz concerts, of course. I suppose you could say that as far as music is concerned I am something of an extremist.”

“Yes,” said Anne Reid icily. It seemed time to talk to Anne.

Anne Reid
Anne Reid – she likes “mod”

She was born in Newcastle upon Tyne. By her mid-teens she was a seasoned traveller. Her father is a journalist and his work takes him all over the world.

Anne told me: “I was 13 and at an English boarding school. Someone rang me to say that my father was arranging to have me flown to India to join him — in a Maharajah’s private plane.”

Anne made the trip alone — “I was terrified,” she said.

Anne studied for two years at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and when she took part in the yearly public show at Her Majesty’s Theatre, she was awarded a bronze medal.

She got her first break when she worked in several sketches with Benny Hill.

“I did lots of different parts — but I like the part of Valerie Tatlock, Albert Tatlock’s niece, best. I think she’s a lot nearer to the real me.”

Anne Reid and Eileen Derbyshire have one thing in common. Both are mezzo-sopranos.

Eileen sang in a pantomime at Southport — and Anne sang in a pantomime at Dudley.

We were discussing that dangerous subject, music, again.

“We’re good friends, you know,” said Anne “But Eileen’s views on ‘trad’…”

Eileen was bristling again.

It was time to leave.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *