idea of a holiday is working!
ABC Film Review, 1979
Lowe, pictured in his latest release 'The Lady Vanishes', is interviewed
by Dave Badger.
Having enjoyed Arthur Lowe's performance as Charters, the cricket-mad
enthusiast in The Lady Vanishes, I didn't hesitate to accept the
invitation to call on him at his elegant London home. He sank
into an upright chair in front of a very elegant desk (more about
it later) and confided in me that he was a tired man.
had just returned from four days driving around Derbyshire (where
he was born) and Bucks with his actress wife Joan Cooper where
they visited their parents and one set of grandchildren belonging
to his elder son. "Thank God my younger son lives in London,"
he said. Driving doesn't usually tire the usually indefatigable
Arthur Lowe but this trip followed close on the heels of his completing
six further episodes of TV's "Potter" and eight of "Bless Me Father".
days after his interview with me he would be working alongside
Eric Sykes in a TV version of Eric's movie The Plank, a short
which told without dialogue the adventures of two men collecting
and taking home a long plank of wood. "I have a great respect
for Eric," Arthur told me, "and from the script it looks
like its going to be very enjoyable." Finding a sense of enjoyment
in his work is what has kept 64-year-old Arthur in the business
of acting. "It's nice," he said "to be able to claim
one enjoys one's work. So many people don't you know."
Lowe is one of the few actors who enjoys success in all showbusiness
media. He first shot to fame as Leonard Swindley in "Coronation
Street", leaving to return to the stage which he admits is his
began my acting on the stage and I think whichever medium gives
you your start becomes your mother craft," he told me.
"Personally I like to mix all three each year - films, TV and
stage. I do a summer season in theatre every year. I count it
as my holiday, I enjoy it so much."
second time Arthur left a well loved TV series was at the end
of an incredible nine years of "Dad's Army" during which he was
acclaimed for his portrayal of the pompous Captain Mainwaring.
He repeated the characterisation in a movie version, one of the
more successful TV spin-offs. Arthur's film career began in 1948
with London Belongs To Me. Arthur has appeared in three films
for Lindsay Anderson - This sporting Life, If and O Lucky Man.
In the last named he had three roles. At the other end of the
scale is No Sex Please - We're British. His long line of films
comes up to date with The Lady Vanishes and Sweet William.
The Lady Vanishes he and Ian Carmichael portray a couple of cricket
mad Englishmen on a train passing through Bavaria shortly before
the outbreak of the Second World War. Cybill Shepherd and Elliott
Gould are fellow passengers who discover a plot concerning spies
and a missing English nanny (Angela Lansbury). Lowe and Carmichael
are, however, much more interested in learning the test match
score. I asked Arthur if that character - the very English, old-fashioned,
foolhardily brave, Empire-loving cricket enthusiast-matched his
own. "I suppose it does fit me a bit," he replied. "And
I do like cricket." He, like the critics and general public,
found the film "very enjoyable - a nice family film."
he added, "Now the other one, Sweet William, is quite a different
kettle of fish. It's a strange film about a strange character.
"I play Jenny Agutter's father, a retired army captain - not
a bit like Mainwaring though. Jenny has a torrid affair with
William (played by Sam Waterston), a man who latches
onto any woman he can. The girl becomes pregnant. In one sequence
she comes home for Christmas, a desperate suburban atmosphere
with auntie and uncle all there. I've guessed my daughter's
pregnant but don't let on."
we came to Arthur's elegant desk. "It's new," he said.
"Do you like it?" I admitted I did and he told me proudly,
"it's a copy of the desk at No 10, Downing Street." He
showed me a little brass plaque inside a cupboard, which indicated
that the desk was one of only 50 reproductions of the Prime Ministers
desk made by Chippendale for William Pitt in 1760. I was impressed
and silently wondered what it might have cost. Arthur didn't say.
It didn't matter because he was so proud of it and it could be
justifiably be said to be one of the repayments to a man who has
brought so much enjoyment to so many people.
by Andy Howells, with thanks to Iain S Wilson for supplying the
Interview - September 2000
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