Graham – Fantastic, thanks! Your close connections with these papers are working a treat for us.

Philip Lovett, Nottingham City and County Enterprise and Skills Board, August 2012


After Dinner speaking

Thank you so much for your fascinating and funny talk... "Best talk ever”, members were saying as they left. Well done! It was great to see so many members asking you questions. There were 134 members in the audience, which is a really good attendance.

All good wishes.
Kay Williams Bourne U3A


Copywriting and Journalism

Superb piece, thanks so much Graham, have sent copy on to head of Military History Channel who I’m sure will be thrilled. We’ve got a few more coming up this year so hopefully we’ll be able to do more together very soon.

All the best


Steve Humphries, MD Testimony Films, Bristol

THANK-YOU – it looks fantastic!

Vicki-Sue Brotherhood, proprietor of Indian Summer, re the feature about her life and business on


Articles - Pauline Quirke

Starring in a new series of Missing as DS Mary Jane Croft

Solving fictional cases of missing persons is all in a day’s work for TV cop Pauline Quirke, but as she returns with a new series of Missing as DS Mary Jane Croft, Pauline will also be joining her real-life counterparts looking for real-life runaways.


The 10-part drama series goes out daily on weekday afternoons from Monday (March 15), but when accompanying documentary series Missing Live goes out each morning Pa uline will be there too.

She will join the Metropolitan Police’s Missing Person’s Unit on the streets of Hackney – the area where she grew up – to experience first-hand the work of the real-life police officers:


“I am a bit apprehensive but I’m also really looking forward to it,” says the former Birds of a Feather star, 50.

“I think it’s going to be fascinating, but we won’t really know what’s ahead of us until we start on the day. Personally I’m very excited about it and I think it will be interesting to meet the real guys and see how they work.”

But Pauline admits she will also be anxious about protecting the feelings of anguished people looking for absent loved ones:


“There is a little trepidation. It’s a difficult thing, because this is not a drama, this is real life, and I don’t want to encroach on the terrible traumas of real people whose loved ones are missing, so certainly I will be very much on the back seat where that’s concerned.”


Back at the drama series, episode one sees the Dover Missing Persons Unit moved to a new HQ and Mary Jane has a picky new line manager to answer to (Adjoa Andoh, who also featured in series one). There’s friction between the pair of them over a case involving the heart-tugging disappearance from school of a six-year-old girl, played by Indira Ainger. Guest stars include ex-EastEnder Brooke Kinsella as the girl’s mum and Gary Lucy from Footballers’ Wives as her overbearing boyfriend.


And while Pauline acts as an earth mother figure for regular cast members Pooja Shah as civilian worker Amy Garnett and Felix Scott as DC Jason Doyle, she’s particularly solicitous for the kids who are following in her footsteps as a child actress.


“Pooja and Felix call me Auntie Pauline – I can’t be ‘mum’ because I’m already pretend ‘mum’ to Toby Ross Bryant and Ellie Beavan, who played my children on Down To Earth.

“I’m getting older so it will be Granny Quirke soon,” laughs Pauline, who has two children of her own – son Charlie, 15 and daughter Emily, 25.


“But as well as some amazing guests stars – we’ve had Roy Hudd, Paul Nicholas, Gillian Taylforth, Gaby Roslin, Sian Phillips, and yesterday I got to do a scene with Susannah York! – we’ve had a lot of young actors come in and it’s been lovely. We try to make it as happy and pleasant for them as possible.”


What goes around comes around, and Pauline is simply passing on the caring treatment that she herself received as a star-struck nine-year-old making her TV debut more than 40 years ago to play a child arsonist in a 1960s episode of Dixon of Dock Green.:


“I remember everything about it, which is amazing because I can’t remember some things that happened last week! My mum was my chaperone, which was lovely. We did it in Ealing Studios and I remember walking in there the first day and we saw Ian Carmichael. I couldn’t believe it!


“There was an actress called Jo Rowbottom who was a lovely lady who played my mum, and all the actors were very kind to me, including Dixon himself, Jack Warner.


“It was a very grown-up environment but everyone was so sweet, and we got nice biscuits at teatime… Who knows what road my life would have taken if it hadn’t been such a great and happy experience for me?”


In fact Pauline has been a TV stalwart ever since, graduating from child actress via youth presenter to mature actress in seemingly seamless fashion and with hardly a pause between jobs, which is perhaps just as well:

“There have always been gaps but not particularly long gaps – I’m extremely lucky. Like a lot of actors, when I was younger, if there was no acting work coming in you’d go and do something else, but I was a pretty lousy barmaid and I was a pretty lousy secretary as well!”


Acting, on the other hand, came much more easily to her, and Pauline’s versatility over the years has been astonishing, generating laughter for a decade in successive series of Birds of a Feather, scaring viewers witless with her chilling portrayal of a convicted double killer in The Sculptress and warming hearts with family sagas such as Down To Earth or period dramas such as the fabulous BBC David Copperfield in 1999, in which she was an unforgettable and endearing Peggotty.


At the mere mention of Peggotty she murmurs “My darlin’ Boy…” in that warming West Country burr and it still sounds oddly comforting and maternal to me, even though Pauline is actually eight years younger than I am…

Those maternal instincts are now nurturing an even bigger brood than her TV ‘family’ on Missing, because back in September 2007 she and husband Steve Sheen set up the first Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts in Beaconsfield, offering three hours of Saturday morning tuition in comedy, drama, musical theatre, film and television, not far from their home in leafy Buckinghamshire.


Now the number of academies has mushroomed to 16 and they have spread as far north as Yorkshire. They even have a branch in Majorca, where the couple are regular visitors and where they owned a holiday home for many years.


“They academies are going from strength to strength. I can’t take any credit for the day-to-day running – Steve works full-time in the office and we’ve got four full-time staff – but most Saturdays I try to get around as many academies as possible. I get along to see the kids and I’m loving it.


“We’re getting great feedback and everyone seems to be enjoying it. I’m very proud of it. We had 35 children when we started and now we’ve got over 800. We’re heading north now and we’re also looking at Scotland, so we’ll see if there’s a need or if anyone approaches us.”


Each satellite academy is run by a local principal appointed by Pauline and Steve. Often they are actors or actresses that Pauline has worked with over the years. The original one in Beaconsfield is run by Toby Ross Bryant, Pauline’s screen son from Down to Earth.


And for all Pauline’s comments about getting older, viewers may notice a youthful spring in her step for this series of Missing. She completed series one despite intense pain from an arthritic hip, but has since had a successful hip replacement operation:


“I was in so much pain before I had it done that things like climbing stairs or getting in and out of cars were difficult. Now at least I can jump out of cars and catch the baddies quicker…”


  • Missing Live, Mon – Fri 9.15am,BBC1; Missing, Mon – Fri 2.15pm,BBC1, for two weeks from Monday.


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Basically a Blog by any other name – short articles and observations on assorted topics including Off Your Trolley (notes from an inveterate foodie and value-hungry shopper), observations on celebrity encounters and funny stuff culled from Graham Keal’s Netwits – collected humour from all over the internet.


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