Irish actors on why they make the move to London.

Greater opportunities and better pay are the two main reasons why many Irish actors risk a move to London. Irish plays such as ‘Stephen D’ by Hugh Leonard at St Martin’s Theatre are also being met with great acclaim in London.

Irish actress Marie Kean, is known for her role of ‘Mrs Kennedy’ in the Radio Éireann’s soap ‘The Kennedys of Castleross’ however the big screen called and she moved to London. She now flies back to Ireland at the weekends to record Mrs Kennedy. There are so many of the Kennedys cast in London, the next recording will actually take place in London.

Kean has just completed a television play where she played an Irish landlady. She agrees there is a tendency for Irish actors in London to get Irish roles but,

I suppose that’s what we’re best at playing Irish parts.

When she finishes her run at the Phoenix Theatre she thinks she will do some film work in Ireland and England.

For actress Kate Binchy, moving to London gives her the best of both worlds. She can play a wider variety of roles and has more opportunities, not only in London but also in the rest of England. Being an Irish actress means she can get typecast. 

You have to go to a great lot of trouble to sort of convince people that you can play other parts as well.

Donal Donnelly is now living permanently in London and does not believe there is any one reason why Irish theatre has such a strong presence in the city. 

Limerick born Richard Harris is currently performing one man play ‘The Diary of A Madman’ by Nikolai Gogol at the Royal Court Theatre. He began his career in London at the age of 22 and chose to attend drama school there because

I’d a better chance of learning more in a shorter space of time.

He recently received critical acclaim for his starring role in ‘This Sporting Life’ directed by Lindsay Anderson which he hopes will be screened in Ireland. Harris and Anderson have since formed a film company and wish to make a film version of JP Donleavy's ‘The Ginger Man’.

Writer Edna O’Brien expects to see her novel ‘The Lonely Girl’ shot on location in Ireland. This film was released in 1964 under the title 'Girl with Green Eyes'. Meanwhile actor Peter O’Toole hopes to film Samuel Becket’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ if he can clear the rights and other difficulties.

If I do I will make it in Connemara where my people come from.

This episode of ‘Broadsheet’ was broadcast on 15 May 1963. The reporter is Lelia Doolan.