Alison Steadman: ‘I never thought I would live in such strange and scary times’

The actor is back from lockdown with two new dramas. She talks about her 50-year career, Boris Johnson and the joy of miaowing at John Cleese, while James Corden, Julia Davis and Mike Leigh pay tribute

It took less than a week of lockdown for Alison Steadman to start making puppets. Supplies weren’t a problem; this is a woman so anti-waste she thinks supermarkets should charge a fiver for plastic bags and donates her old hair to the birds. “It’s very good for nests; it’s soft and it complements the grass and sticks.”

So, come late March, she decided to knock together a Mr Punch to entertain her grandson on FaceTime. “I’d got all the stuff: toilet roll holder, newspaper, flour, plasticine, Christmas decorations, an old cushion.

“I love Punch and Judy. When I was a child, we’d sometimes go shopping in Liverpool city centre and my treat, if I behaved, was to watch it outside St George’s Hall. People say: ‘Oh, but he used to beat his wife with a stick.’ But as a kid you don’t know that. It’s just fun.”

Continue reading

23 Walks: Alison Steadman and Dave Johns shine in sexagenarian rom-com

REVIEW: This is an insubstantial film, but a defiantly big-hearted and pleasant one too.

Someone a lot wiser than me (and frankly, who isn’t?) once said, “íf there truly is a god, and he likes us, then he would let dogs live longer”.”

Anyone who’s ever been owned by a dog understands that exactly. Dogs do have a way of transforming us, even as they are moulting and farting their way through our lives, eating us out of house and home and then dying just when we weren’t ready for it. And, dogs do have an uncanny knack for introducing us to new people, who we at least have dogs in common with.

Which is, near enough, the premise of 23 Walks, from writer and director Paul Morrison (Little Ashes).

Holding the leashes of their respective best friends are Fern and Dave. She is 60-something, freshly divorced and really not interested in starting anew with anyone just yet. He is Dave, apparently a widower, and seemingly the loveliest bloke you could ever run into on a blustery day in a north London park.

The two become fond of each other while walking their hounds. An initial friendship turns to a tentative romance. But, both have their secrets and privacies, and there’ll be a few fraught moments before anything like love can prevail. Continue reading