Anne takes on Steel Magnolias role in Derry

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She was everybody’s favourite Neighbour in the 80s and now Anne Charleston aka Madge Bishop is coming to Derry to take on one of theatre’s best loved roles - that of Ouiser Boudreaux in the tearjerker ‘Steel Magnolias’.

In ‘Neighbours’ she played the matriach of the Ramsey family - and mum to a very young Charlene (aka Kylie Minogue) when the TV series was among the highest rated on the BBC.

In the years that have passed she has built up a considerable body of work in Australia, the UK and Ireland - including a two year stint on ‘Emmerdale’. And while she says she will “always be grateful to Madge” for raising her profile so dramatically, she now wants to put the role behind her.

“It’s a shame after all these years when people only remember me for one role - but that said, how could I be annoyed about it? Madge was a great character.”

And so too is Ouiser Boudreaux - the role made famous by Shirley Maclaine in the 1987 film of the play. “She is a great character to play - with so many wonderful, funny lines.”

While the play is interlaced with a lot of humour and centres on the theme of friendship - it is also extremely moving in places.

“It is a very emotional play,” Anne said, “Made even more so when you think that it was written by Robert Harling as a tribute to his sister who died of complications from diabetes.”

Anne says the play is “very close” to the film version.

“Although it is all set in the salon - the story remains the same and the dialogue is just as strong.”

The cast coming to Derry with the touring production is very strong and Anne says they have all bonded very well. “We are having a great time on stage. We get on very well together which makes touring together so much easier.

“With the play being about female friendship, it is great that we are working so well together.

“We really are having the best time on stage.”

‘Steel Magnolias’ runs at the Forum from Monday to Wednesday of next week. For tickets call: 71264455.