Mollie Sugden

Family name: 
Work area/craft/role: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
25 Jul 2000
8 Aug 2000
Production Media: 
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Interview notes


[Transcribed from Joyce Robinson’s handwritten notes. DS]

NB Unfortunately there are no indications as to where each section of the interview begins or ends.

Born 1922 in Keighley, Yorkshire; aged 17 when World War Two began, and worked in a munitions factory for the duration. Then two years at Guildford School of Music and Drama [I think this must be Guildhall… DS] followed by eight years in repertory theatre, first in Accrington. Roy Dotrice and Eric Sykes in the same company. Earning £3 a week. Met William (Bill) Moore in Swansea and they married c. 1956. Met Ronnie Barker on tour with Walter Greenwood’s Saturday Night at the Crown (Blackpool) then Garrick in London.

*Mollie played Jimmy Clitheroe’s mum on stage – in ’expanding’ costumes, as [she was] pregnant with twins, born August 1963. On Boxing Day 1963 started Hugh & I on television, with Terry Scott, this the result of appearing in a Newcastle TV sitcom. In between those engagements, played on stage in Doctor at Large, Six Wives of Henry the Eighth, Emma and Ring Round the Moon. Played Nellie Harvey in Coronation Street (1973-74) and [appeared in] Comedy Playhouse on TV. Summer seasons in between. My Husband and I, with Bill Moore, and The Circle; and Moliere’s Slave of Truth, and others in Aberdeen & Pittlochrie.*

[*The section above, between the two asterisks is at the end of Joyce’s notes and appears to be added at the end of the interview to fill in a gap. DS]

Speaks of joining Are You Being Served? On TV (David Croft Producer[BEHP Interview 541]) – it ran almost ten years. She played in the American version, Grace & Favour in 1992. Then Michael Pertwee’s Find the Lady, taken to Australia, Tasmania. Story about a Persian cat dyed to match her wig in a commercial. A contract with the BBC led to Come Back Mrs Noah (1977-78) on television. Her favourite Directors are Sydney Lotterby, John Glenister, David Croft and Naomi Capon, who directed Ring Round the Moon (theatre) and Maggie, with Vanessa Redgrave followed (theatre). She speaks of The Liverbirds and Oliver’s Travels (c.1998) by Alan Plater in Cardiff (Theatre). A Liverbirds revival: some regrets for increased weight due to steroids. Mollie remembers working in radio: e.g. Home to Roost, with Derek Guyler, (Pebble Mill); Oh Mother (BBC London) and played the neighbour in The Clitheroe Kid. That’s My Boy (1983) on radio, too. More recently she was in Just William for TV. Mollie speaks of Equity and of her second, excellent, choice of agent (Bill Moore’s agent), Joan Read (Reader?). She went to Dallas to do some readings with the Royal Shakespeare Company and made promotional phone-ins there. She comments on fans and fan-mail. She works now for e.g. charities, for children’s charities only. Recent appearances include This is Your Life, Funny Women, What a Performance ! Mollie goes on to speak of working in pantomime, five in all: Ali Baba in Darlington, preceded by Cinderella – she played Prince Charming (in Oldham); Jack & The Beanstalk in Liverpool in which the tradition of female as Principle Boy and male as The Dame is reversed when a male plays principle Boy, in this case Gerry Marsden [of Gerry and the Pacemakers pop group]: so Mollie was Dame Durden. She tells of a solo with the pantomime cow. Next: Dick Whittington at the London Palladium with Jim Davidson as the Principle Boy, Mollie as Sarah the Cook. Mollie mentions being in a game show with Les Dawson before playing the Funny Fairy in Cinderella at the London Palladium with Lionel Blair; and at Swansea also, with Bill Moore as Baron Hardup. She has few regrets.



Married to William Moore (actor)

Born Yorkshire 21st July 1922. Father a deacon. Reciting lessons as child with accents. Worked in munitions factory in WW2. Guildall School of Music and Drama after WW2 in London. Started in Repertory with different plays every week. In Accrington. Alongside Eric Sykes. Oldham Arts council theatre as ASM. Also played small parts as well.  Various companies for 8 years. Met William Moore there and got married. Living in St John's Wood. Walter Greenwood rang an audition for Saturday night at the Crown alongside Thora Hird. At Blackpool for a season. Play went to London the Garrick.. Purchased house in Hampstead with tenants. Resisted a change of name. Played with Jimmy Clitheroe on Radio as his mother.  1963 had twins.. TV show Hugh? and I. Doctor at Large film. Ring round the Moon. The Liver Birds audition for second series as Mrs Hopkins. Also in Coronation Street. Comedy Playhouse on TV. Asked to do Are you being Served. That's my Boy Yorkshire TV. My Husband and I.  Did Grace and Favour as a sequel to Are you being Served.