Maigret's Dead Man: Rowan Atkinson stars as French detective
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Miriam Margoyles, 80, starred alongside Rowan Atkinson, 66, in 1982’s Blackadder, and the pair became fast friends, as she “instantly” warmed to the comedian. However, at that time the Mr Bean actor was struggling with a “stammer” which stemmed from his nervousness in front of the camera.
Although the speech impairment is no longer present, Miriam recalled how it would “infuriate” the talented actor and make his face “contort with rage”.
She shared: “In 1982, I got the call to be a part of Blackadder, playing the ugly Spanish infanta in the fourth episode, The Queen Of Spain’s Beard.
“Although I didn’t know many of the other cast members personally, I instantly liked Rowan Atkinson, who played Edmund Blackadder.
“The thing that fascinated me most was his nervousness. His stammer is not evident now but he definitely had a faltering delivery back then, and it used to infuriate him.
“He was never nasty to anybody else, but he just couldn’t bear it when he made mistakes and would get himself into a frenzy. It was painful to see; his face would contort with rage,” she added.
One night Miriam went to see Rowan perform in his one-man show on Broadway, and it did not go to plan.
She continued in her memoir, This Much Is True, serialised in the Daily Mail: “Later I went to the first night of his one-man show on Broadway, which was a disaster.
“It was actually brilliant but I could feel that it wasn’t going down well with the audience, who just couldn’t understand his humour, and I knew he’d be terribly disappointed.”
Miriam’s new memoir sees her looking back on her career starring in films like Romeo + Juliet and the Harry Potter saga.
The synopsis of the book reads: “Now, at the age of 80, she has finally decided to tell her extraordinary life story – and it’s well worth the wait.
“Find out how being conceived in an air-raid gave her curly hair; what pranks led to her being known as the naughtiest girl Oxford High School ever had; how she ended up posing nude for Augustus John as a teenager; why Bob Monkhouse was the best (male) kiss she’s ever had; and what happened next after Warren Beatty asked ‘Do you f***?’
“From declaring her love to Vanessa Redgrave to being told to be quiet by the Queen, this book is packed with brilliant, hilarious stories.
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“With a cast list stretching from Scorsese to Streisand, a cross-dressing Leonardo di Caprio to Isaiah Berlin, This Much Is True is as warm and honest, as full of life and surprises, as its inimitable author.”
Miriam was born into a Jewish family in Oxford, she never went to drama school, serving her apprenticeship in the BBC’s radio rep company instead where she worked alongside, John Osborne, Maggie Smith and Elaine Stritch.
Even now, she remembers the first lesson of voice-work: “Vowels carry emotion and consonants carry the sense”.
“You have to make words your friend”, she advises.
“And I’m one of those lucky people for whom words are. I enjoy finding the right word and giving each its full measure, its full space in a sentence,” she added to The Guardian.
In 2013 the actress finally took Australian citizenship after four decades commuting between London, Tuscany and New South Wales with her long-term partner Heather.
Miriam told the Loose Women panel that she “never had a problem” being gay, and did not know you “weren’t supposed” to like the same sex.
The star told the panel she “felt sorry” for those who have a problem with people being gay and hopes things get “better”, during an appearance last year.
This Much Is True by Miriam Margolyes, published by John Murray on September 16, £20. You can buy the book here.
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