Former EastEnders star Charlie Brooks gets fit to tread the boards

Best known as Eastenders troublemaker Janine Butcher, bringing drama to Albert Square with a
medley of cocaine addition, murder and prostitution, Charlie Brooks is now taking her talent on
tour, playing Sandra in the iconic play, Beautiful Thing.

Charlie Brooks Image 2

The ‘Walford witch’ has finally left the East End, and now you’ll be seeing Charlie Brooks in a wholly
different incarnation.

The actress has appeared in episodes of The Bill, Jonathan’s Creek and, of course, Eastenders, but
come spring, she’ll be taking on the theatre, appearing in Beautiful Thing.

The play follows two young men, Jaimie and Ste, and their blossoming romance in an inner city
housing estate. Together the two boys find comedy, warmth and the music of Mama Cass through
their loud-mouthed next door neighbor Leah. Brooks plays Sandra, Jamie’s mum and the local

“What doesn’t attract me to the play?” Brooks grins. “I was obsessed with the film when I was a kid, I
watched it like 100 times, I was one of the cult followers really. I remember seeing Surrane (Jones) in
the play last year and going ‘ooh, I want to do that, put me in it! Lo and behold, a year or two later
here I am, so it’s like a dream come true.”

It’s hard for bubbly Brooks to pinpoint exactly why the iconic play resonates with her – “Just the
content of the story,” she starts. “I went to theatre school where I had lots of gay friends – I had a
boyfriend that was gay!” she laughs.

“So it’s always been important, the performances in the film were just amazing and it’s a great character for me, so it’s a rally big draw all round really.”

And Beautiful Thing still endures to this day, despite being over 20 years old. “There are still,
especially in the regional areas where we are touring, people going through this very same issue and
people still terrified of coming out, they don’t know how to do it and they are scared of talking about
it. I think that it’s a timeless play, it’s brilliant, it’s funny, it’s sad, and I think that it speaks to a lot of
people still.”

We suggest that the role of strong young mum Sandra seems a happy fit for Brooks; “Are you saying
I’m a feisty single mum?!” the actress laughs. “What I’m hoping to do is to bring a great deal of
warmth to it, know what I mean? She’s feisty, she’s loud, she’s not afraid to speak her mind, she’s had
a hard life and fought to be where she is, fought to bring up that little boy, so the relationship that
they have is one that’s very special in the end.” Adding that, “I’ve got some of the best lines – I just
can’t wait to say them.”

Charlie Brooks (2011)-2

Calling this, “completely different” from the television work for which she is best known, however,
Brooks is feeling the nerves. “With learning lines in Eastenders, they go in very quickly, it’s in and out
because it’s so quick and so fast paced. I haven’t done a great deal of theatre so this is all quite new,
so I’m shi**ing it to be honest! I just hope I’m ok. But it’s so exciting.”

It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s a positive step forward for the actress and mum of one. “I am busy, but
it’s great because I feel like I am achieving what I set out to when I left Eastenders, so I feel really,
really lucky,” she says.

Charlie Brooks Image
The 18 week tour will also take her away from her daughter, Kiki, and it wasn’t an easy decision to
come to. “I love being at home, I love it. My daughter is 10 now which is such an important time and
I’ve never been away or gone away with work, so when this came up I had a lengthy conversation
with my immediate family members and decided that it was now my turn to be able to go off and
spend time away. We have a few days off in-between theatre moves so I’ll be able to get back and
she’ll also come down and see me, so we’re going to make it work. But I am a bit nervous about it.
She is very adaptable and my mum is there and her dad is there so I have a brilliant support system,
we have a close knit family.”

And even when the tour comes to a close, the stage will be calling once again. “I’m starting another
play called Contact at the Park theatre in Finsbury. It’s a new play about swinging! It’s a bit raunchy,
which I’m a bit nervous about but it’s exciting!”

Charlie Brooks will star as ‘Sandra’ in Beautiful Thing, touring the UK from 23 March 2015.

Daryl Hannah reinvents herself as a domestic goddess



DH [320x200].jpgWhen Daryl Hannah walks into the hotel for breakfast, heads turn. And this is despite the fact the 44-year-old actress is doing nothing to appear especially glamorous.

Wearing a dowdy mauve top, a simple purple cardigan, baggy trousers and denim cap her puffy face makes it clear she’s missed another decent night’s sleep (she is a notorious insomniac) and yet still she cuts an image impossible to ignore.

Perhaps it’s that she still sports the long blonde mane of hair that made her famous when she played a mermaid opposite Tom Hanks in Splash, or maybe it’s the way she has reinvented herself as an icon of the violent kind, recently playing one-eyed assassin Elle Driver in Kill Bill.

Having appealed to both sensitive romantics and those with a taste for deadly killers, her cinema audience is large, but no matter how much she tries to surprise us nothing prepares me to guess at her next role: environmental campaigner.

“I’ve started shooting a TV show in the States about all things green,” she tells me. “It’s somewhere between a lifestyle show and a Nigella Lawson type thing and it’s all about what you can do to change the world.

“We look at alternative sources of power, running a car on climate friendly fuel, organic gardening, responsible cooking and holidays in eco-resorts as well as some of the great eco-heroes of our time.”

Coming from Daryl on a bleary-eyed morning it’s clear this is no mere sentiment or fashionable Hollywood puff – she really means it. A vegetarian from the age of seven, she says she has finally come to terms with herself and discovered a stronger sense of personal mission than making movies.

Just as audiences have been rediscovering her, she says she is losing interest in film projects and letting her environmentalism take over. Last year she had to be forcibly evicted after sitting in a walnut tree for 23 days in Los Angeles to save a community garden under threat from developers. It seems what Daryl really wants now is recognition as America’s number one alternative domestic goddess.

“Honestly, that’s where 100% of my energy is going to now,” she insists. “I have been doing a few movie parts over the past two years, but lately I’ve been much more interested in campaigning for the environment. Anyone sensitive to human and animal welfare finds it impossible to ignore the habitat in which we all thrive, and caring about it means looking at how we live.”

Eleven years ago Daryl bought an old disused Wild West stagecoach station in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and restored it using reclaimed materials. She runs it on solar energy and has established a ranch there, keeping horses and other animals, but she says what she really loves is feeling in tune with nature.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised Daryl would build herself an eco-retreat far away from what she sees as the shallow celebrity world of Los Angeles. She has always been painfully shy, which may seem an odd character trait in an actress, but she has struggled with it ever since the day her natural father walked out on her family when she was only seven-years-old.

Her father severed all ties, leaving Daryl, her mother and two younger siblings without any further contact. As a result of the trauma this caused her, Daryl became so withdrawn she was briefly diagnosed as borderline autistic.

You still notice her shyness today. Other interviewers comment on the playful, girly-light voice she adopts, which functions as a smokescreen to intimacy, but she immediately drops this when we talk about her eco-concerns, revealing an intelligent and extremely well informed woman using authoritative, deeper tones. Perhaps she finds it easier to hide behind facts.

More intriguingly, throughout the interview she seems slightly disengaged. Her conversation is warm and open enough but after half an hour I suddenly realise she hasn’t been looking at me directly in the eyes. She is one of those people who glance in the general direction of your face and lock onto a central spot with an unfocused gaze.

“I am shy and I don’t like interviews, it’s true,” she admits. “But two years ago I had a period of not having a boyfriend for more than a year, and in that time I processed my emotional garbage and demons. I worked really hard, trying to get clear about what my mission in life was. It’s to communicate what really matters to me, and knowing that has helped settle me.”

She marks the moment her father left as the time her ‘epiphany’ about the environment first began. In the middle of the introspection that followed she says she instinctively began to understand the world was different from what she had been taught in Sunday school. She started to want to live in harmony with nature.

Her mother married a second time, to the real estate billionaire Jerrold Wexler, and Daryl grew up comfortably with five additional step-siblings. Killing time watching movies while failing to get to sleep at nights gave her a love for acting and she was only 18 when Brian de Palma cast her in her first role in The Fury.

When she was thrust into the limelight six years later she couldn’t cope with the attention. “I didn’t cope very well after making Splash,” she recalls. “I don’t like people looking at me – I always think: ‘What’s wrong, why are they staring?’ I became a sort of recluse and never learned how to deal with relationships. I just found it uncomfortable.”

She had started dating singer songwriter Jackson Browne when she was 17, but the relationship floundered amid reports of violence and she grew close to John F Kennedy Junior instead. This period in her life brought a near continuous flash-gun of attention from paparazzi photographers and in the aftermath of that she returned to the town where she grew up as a child to establish her eco-ranch.

After briefly dating Val Kilmer and David Blaine she is now with Sean McPherson, wealthy boss of New York’s Maritime Hotel.  It is rumoured that she and McPherson may tie the knot soon, and she has certainly said a lot in the past about wanting to start a family.

“I do need a baby,” she says, “send them to me – I want them. But I’m still settling into this next phase of my life as well. So we’ll see what happens.”


Can you tell me a bit more about your home?

I live ‘off the grid’, which means I don’t need electricity or gas. We designed it to have mosaic tiled floors that absorb heat passively when sunshine comes through the windows, so that means your feet are always toasty, and it has active solar panels that track the sun it as it moves across the sky so you get maximum renewable energy.

It was really important to me to create my home showing responsibility to the environment. All the materials used to renew the walls were taken from where we dug out some new foundations, so we literally wasted nothing. And I salvaged an old barn being torn down in the town and used the maple wood from that.

I’ve even got a couch made out of some of the rocks we dug up that have grown moss so I can use them as a sofa. Once a week we have to take off the cushions and water the couch.

Do you run your car on chip oil?

I use 100% biodiesel, which is natural vegetable oil (the same stuff used to fry chips). It gives off no pollutants or greenhouse gases and using it means you join a closed carbon loop – any carbon coming from your exhaust was consumed by the plants you burned, so it totally negates itself.

You can use this fuel in most diesel engines and it has a toxicity level somewhere between table salt and maple syrup, so you can carry it with you when you need to refill the tank. It’s not flammable and it’s a renewable resource – you either grow it or use recycled oil.

What is your spiritual outlook?

Whenever I’m in nature that connects me to the earth. It’s like going to church for me – it grounds me and centres me. It is impossible for me to find my energy isn’t re-focused if I spend a bit of time in a beautiful, natural place. My work always takes me to crazy places and cities, so when I’m not working it’s important to get away from that.

I have a family of deer sleeping outside my back door (three ladies and one man so he’s got himself set up) and there are huge herds of elk coming by every now and then. Being close to nature like that spiritually revives me.

You support a breast cancer charity – has that ever affected you personally?

Not yet, thank God, but I have a good friend who has had to have a couple of lumps removed, and thankfully they hadn’t spread so she’s okay. Recently I was the spokesperson for the American Cancer Association and I found out that cancer is the leading cause of death for women in America. As you get older it’s certainly scary.

People always think of cancer as something their mother or grandmother is going to have to deal with, but it affects young women too – look at Kylie.

What do you do to stay looking so young?


I grow my own organic food and I think that’s important because your food is your fuel. I grow tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, spinach, garlic, onions and corn so I certainly don’t have to go out to the supermarket very often. And I make my own honey, which is a natural healer.


Joan Collins – on mice, men and living to be 100!




Cellex-C.jpgWhat is your beauty philosophy?

I have many beauty philosophies which is why I am working on my third beauty book but I think the most important thing is to take scrupulous care of your skin which I have always done since I was 15 and to be very concerned about what you eat.  I think it’s important not to eat too much.  I usually find that when I go to a restaurant I only eat about a third of what I have on my plate because I think they give you far too much, and that we eat far too much, and they have done all kinds of tests on mice – of course we are not mice – and various animals that if you eat less, and the thinner that you are the more longevity you have.  And since I would like live to live try to be 100 I have quit smoking, I still have the occasional – well more than occasional – glass of wine. I also have many other things that I do that I write about in my books.

Q You are a very busy lady – how do you manage your life and have time to find your own space to relax?

I think relaxing is very important.  I also think that beauty and health is not just the proviso of the young.  There are beautiful women who are in their 80s that one has seen and obviously one gets lines and age spots and all those things, but it would be ridiculous if we didn’t.  Sometimes, for example, you can see and older rose that can look a lot more beautiful because it is a little wilted.

Sorry I am not answering that question properly!  How do I relax?  I relax by watching the 1,500 videos or DVDs that I have, listening to music, reading books, spending time in the South of France in our house which is very relaxing by the swimming pool, basically I love magazines – I can’t wait to read yours – I read a lot of magazines and a lot of newspapers.  I am a bit of a media junkie and I read a lot.  Then if I am tired I believe in a power nap and if I can’t sleep I will at least lie down and close my eyes and try to banish all thoughts of whatever the day has brought or what the night is going to bring.

jc001.jpg How to you keep your superb figure?

Thank you for saying that.  Firstly I don’t eat breakfast.  I find that if I eat breakfast that I am ravenous by lunchtime. I do have two or three cups of coffee during the morning and I do have sugar and milk in them. I believe that you do need a certain amount of calcium so I do drink milk.  I eat mainly salads for lunch and when I am in the South of France I will have a glass of wine.  I do believe in smaller portions as I said and I don’t eat junk food. You would have to tie me down to get me to eat a hamburger from McDonalds.  I just couldn’t – just the very idea – although I do like things like Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie which have ground meat in them.  It’s moderation really in all things.  I eat chocolates.  I bought a Mars bar yesterday because I was so hungry – she giggles.  And if I am going out to a wonderful dinner which we did last night because we dined at Clarence House and the food was grown at Highgrove which is Prince Charles’ home and it was quite delicious and I ate quite a bit, although I only ate half the desert.  I do a little exercise but I do as little as possible because I think that exercise if you do too much wears out your body.

 As women age, particularly career women, they get put into an “age ghetto”.  How do you think you have helped to remove this so-called stigma?

I don’t think that I have.  I am not doing nearly as much as I used to.  I am not doing nearly as many movies as Joan Fonda or Shirley McLaine or Judy Dench.  If there is a part for an older woman, and by older woman I mean for someone over 60, they will go to those three and there are a whole bunch of other ones they will go to first so I am not making the movies I would quite like to do so I make my own projects.  We just finished this tour of Legends in America – that was something Percy and I did together – I did my one woman show we did together and which Percy directed and which I will be doing in America and  my books are something that I can cook up myself .  So I suppose the motto of that is if you want to do something as you get older don’t sit around and wait for somebody to ask you, because they are not going to ask you.  You have got to be a self-starter and do it yourself .

Would you like to live to be 100? Have you heard that calorie restriction can help?

I have heard of these people who are taking so little food that they are taking about the same amount of food as people who were in concentration camps and I really think that is quite sick. I also think that as we get older a woman over 45 or 50 cannot be a stick figure like those very young girls that we see in the magazines because just look ridiculous with skinny bodies and big heads so I think it’s better to have a bit of meat on you as you get older but not too much.

We all accept that looking good is positive and a reflection of our mental health but how far should we go?  What is the sensible and healthy balance?

I think its something that you get to understand as you get older. For example I used to smoke and I am now so freaked out by people smoking that I don’t smoke.  But occasionally I will feel like a cigarette after dinner when my husband and I are sitting on the terrace and I might have one cigarette – it might be one or two a week.  I think the balance is not to deprive yourself too much of things that you want to do.  There are certain things that I stay well away from such as fizzy carbonated drinks like Coca Colas.  You see them everywhere you go and our children today are drinking those and I think it is awful.  My daughter and my daughter-in-law give their children apple juice and fruit juice and they are very concerned because big business today is pushing all of these bad things on children.  In the morning you watch the commercials for things like cornflakes and all of that stuff they eat and it is just filled with sugar.  It’s better that you give the kid a banana.

Why do you think some women cope well with the menopause and others find those years so very difficult?

I think that you have to find other things to take the place of your children leaving.  Many women dedicate their lives wholeheartedly to their children to the extent that they haven’t left any time to themselves during the formative years. For women in their 30s and 40s as their children are growing up all its all about the kids, thenthe kids leave and there is nothing else. So its very important to start when the kids are still young in developing projects or hobbies or things that you like doing, whether its collecting stamps, whether its making collages, whether its embroidery, making cakes, making good dinner parties.  There are so many things that woman can do, so many options and of course there is the internet.  I don’t know about the internet because I don’t know how to do it but my husband does and there are a million things that women can get involved with now.

Do you think older women should go on dates?

I stopped dating a long time ago.  I was in a relationship for a long time before I met Percy.  I met Percy in 2000.  Percy and I weren’t dating when we were working together and we became great friends.  I can’t imagine anything worse than dating quite frankly.  But I do know some people, both men and women, who have gone on these dating services where you put your credentials and information and you try to find somebody who  is on your wavelength.  So I think that if I was an ordinary woman I would try that and see that – say what my hobbies were and what I liked doing – yes that is what I would do rather than go out to bars and rubbing shoulders with 20 year olds.  I don’t like their music and I don’t like the way they dress – it’s a different generation. Let them do their thing and we do ours.

Do you think men find their role difficult these days? 

I think that many women are becoming too competitive with men,  if you excuse the expression “too ballsy”.  I think that you have to be ballsy in business but men don’t usually like to be bossed around even if you are the bossy type I think you have to let a man know that he is – you know – the boss.  It’s a very tricky situation.  I suppose its got to do with women’s emancipation.  But I would rather do what we do in the Western world than be like woman in Muslim and Arab cultures who are completely subservient to man and have no say in anything.  I think the way that they are treated is quite alien to my nature certainly.

Do you worry about getting wrinkles?

I do think that if you go in the sun all your life and haven’t protected your skin, then looking like a prune is not the greatest look in the world. But it comes with the territory and to see someone of 50 or 60 with a totally line-free face is kind of eerie really.

Do you have no make-up days?

My skin is so used to having something on it that if I don’t put some kind of moisturiser or base on it starts to feel all kind of flaky and dry so I don’t put make up on but I put moisturiser on.

Your skin looks better than most 40 year olds – is that because you have stayed out of the sun?

I have stayed out of the sun since I was 20 as far as my face is concerned but not my body – you can see because I really like to have brown legs and shoulders and you can see.  Staying out of the sun has a lot to do with it but I also think that wearing a hat helps. The sun is one of the most dangerous things you can do to your skin.

Do you take Hormone Replacement Therapy?

I have been taking that for 16 years.  I started taking it after reading about it.  I wasn’t feeling bad or suffering from hot flushes.  I went to a top gynaecologist  and asked whether I should be taking this.  He said it was wonderful for your bones and all of the stuff about it giving you breast cancer was not true – ‘I am going to give you the lowest dose that we can give you’ I would be frightened now not to take it anymore because I feel so good but I don’t know whether that was because I felt good before or because its that. So I feel good but not today because I have a sore throat.

Do you still work as hard now as you did 20 years ago?

I am not as busy as when I was doing Dynasty or Pacific Pallasades.  Yes its much slower I was working 50 weeks a year, 12 hours a day so I am definitely in slow gear now..

Is the rumour that you would like to be in Desperate Housewives true?

I would quite like to be in Desperate Housewives.  I was asked to do a part in one a few months ago. I like the series very much and would quite like to do it..I am talking about developing a couple of TV ideas myself


Do you have any charities or social campaigns that you support?

I do think that the elderly today and I am saying this is measured tones are not treated as well as they could be and there seems to be a lot more emphasis on youth than there is on people who have served this country brilliantly during the war and after the war in making this country great.  Now they  seem to be living in bedsits without enough money quite frankly and their pensions being taken away .

That’s my motto – get on with it.  No one said that life was going to be easy – that life was going to be a bowl of cherries. Life isn’t.  Everybody, every single person in the world is going to have some tragedy, some bad things happen to them so I think you have to put it into perspective and think isn’t this better than living in a village in Africa or in Defour in a refugee camp.  And I think that you shouldn’t take refuge in drink or drugs.  You should try and make the best or yourself and its hard, it is hard…its hard for me to put myself in the position of a poor woman living on a council estate and having three different children by three different men…I can’t image that because although I have three children by two different men I was married to them and they were serious I don’t think I am the best person to advise on these matters.

Actress Stephanie Beacham campaigns for hearing loss “stars”


London: Actress Stephanie Beacham has launched a new award to highlight the achievements of those who are deaf and partially deaf.

And at the first ceremony of the Sound Barrier Awards, sponsored by UK company Specsavers and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People people from across the UK were congratulated for their achievements.

Stephanie, who is partially deaf in one ear, and has gone on to have a successful acting career including roles in blockbusters such as Dynasty, said that deafness was not a disability but a frustration which it is possible to overcome.

Sixty-six Adam Wilson rom East Grinstead, Surrey is named the Sound Barrier Star of the Year 2009. He is pictured with his hearing dog Baxter and Stephanie.

The national competition run by Specsavers hearing centres in association with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, recognises achievement in the deaf or hard of hearing. Mr Wilson, 66 lost his hearing due to osteosclerosis at the age of 32. Losing his hearing affected him deeply and he became reclusive and felt isolated.

Says Mr Wilson: ‘I went through a really low point. I could have given in but I picked myself up and decided to face my hearing loss head on.’

Adam now gives regular talks about hearing loss in support of charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. It was after giving a talk to the Crawley Air Cadets that the young people he spoke to decided to nominate him for a Sound Barrier Star Award.

Actress Stephanie Beacham presented Mr Wilson with his award at the ceremony in London on Thursday 17 September. She says: ‘Adam is a thoroughly deserving winner. His story is a perfect example of why we set up the awards up in the first place and it was a real delight to meet him.’

Mr Wilson says: ‘I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to do more in raising deaf awareness – this is really what this is all about. Teenagers get such a bad press and it is a lovely feeling to have got through to them.’

The award Mr Wilson received also included a prize of a luxury two-week all-inclusive cruise from Phoenix Holidays, the UK’s leading river cruise specialist, and £1,500 in vouchers from Specsavers.

Air Cadets CO Helen Dudley says: ‘The children were so moved by Adam’s story. He is a remarkably brave individual and an excellent role model.’

Mr Wilson has also written a book in aid of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People in which his hearing dog Baxter tells stories. He has sold hundreds of copies and aims to make up to £5,000 for the charity.

Mr Wilson continues: ‘Specsavers has been fantastic in raising awareness of the challenges people face with hearing loss. I remember one incident before I got Baxter. When a fire alarm went off at a hotel I was in, I couldn’t hear it and only woke up by the flashing lights of the fire engine.’

Mr Wilson attended the grand final with four other national finalists (pictured) from across the UK. They were interviewed by judges Stephanie Beacham, Julie Perkins from Specsavers, Judy Cogan and Jenny Smith from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

Specsavers donated £5 to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People for every entry. Hearing dogs help transform the lives of their deaf owners by alerting them to sounds that those with good hearing take for granted, allowing them greater independence, confidence and security.


Joan has had surgery says top doctor

London: Joan Collins who claims never to have had cosmetic surgery has gone under the knife, according to a top UK surgeon.

The 72-year-old actress says her secret age-defying weapon is make-up. She recently told US TV: “The most glamorous thing you can do is use lipstick.”

However, Alex Karidis, a London based plastic surgeon, claims he saw evidence of cosmetic surgery when he met Joan 18 months ago.

He said: “I clearly saw the scars behind her ears indicating a facelift. I saw that she had also had her eyes lifted. I would say she has had this done in the last five years.”

The glamorous actress – who has revealed her top tips for staying young in her new book ‘The Art Of Living Well’ – has previously made her position on surgery abundantly clear, and recently described Botox as “poison”.

She said: “Everyone should do what they want. If they want lips like a trout let them. Plastic surgery is the plain women’s revenge