The Archers is a long-running British soap opera broadcast on the BBC’s Radio 4. It was originally billed as “an everyday story of country folk”, but is now described on its Radio 4 web site as “contemporary drama in a rural setting”. With more than 16,000 episodes, it is both the world’s longest running radio soap and the world’s longest running soap opera in any format.
The Archers is the most listened to Radio 4 non-news programme, with over five million listeners, and holds the BBC Radio programme record for the number of times listened to over the Internet, with over one million listeners
At the time of the interview, the character Lucy in The Radio series The Archers, was played by Phoebe Aldridge who was born on 28th June 1998.
Phoebe began life as the object of a tug of love between mother Kate Aldridge and father Roy Tucker. Kate subsequently decided that Phoebe would be better off in Ambridge than on her own New Age travels, and she has resided there ever since with Roy and his wife Hayley. That’s fine until Kate confuses the poor child on one of her visits back home, which in 2010 became long term as she attended a course at Felpersham University.
When left to her own devices, Phoebe enjoys helping out with the hens and being doted on by her grandad Mike, maternal grandmother Jennifer and Mike’s new wife Vicky. She in turn is delighted to have half-sister Abbie on whom to lavish attention. www.bbc.co.uk/archers/
I recently asked Lucy some questions about herself and her career
What is your favourite subject at school?
My favourite subject at school is performing arts. We get to run the school’s many shows and cast people in different roles. We obviously get to perform ourselves but we are the directors of our own shows. We don’t get given help or advice from our teacher, we just get given a brief of what the exam topic is and we crack on with it! It is hard work but it gives you a taste of what it really is like in the business.
Do you have a favourite pet at home?
Well I have two dogs and I can’t say I love one more than the other because I don’t! They are Beagles and they are called Oscar and Benji – they’re a beautiful part of the family.
At what age did you realise you wanted to be an actress?
Well it was around the age of four when I started in an outside of school Performing Arts club and I knew from then on I wanted to be involved in the acting business. I started in different theatre companys and by the age of seven, I was in the cast of ‘Macbeth’ with the Royal Shakespeare Company directed by Dominic Cooke (in Stratford-upon-Avon). Thanks to the children’s casting director of the RSC, I then followed on to be in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ when I was ten years old at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre directed by Nancy Meckler and then travelled up to Newcastle with the cast for two weeks to put on the show there as well. I think it is all thanks to the RSC for making me realise that I could make it in the business!
Did anyone in particular inspire you to be on the stage?
The person that inspired me to want to be on the stage was Dame Judi Dench. I think she is such an inspiration and with her having also performed with the RSC on the very stage that I did is just amazing!
Do you have anyone as a role model that you aspire to be like?
I actually have two. After seeing ‘Love Never Dies’ in late 2010, Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo have been my role models ever since. They inspire me so much in what they do and how much passion they have. I have dedicated my life to the performing arts and for that to pay off eventually and hopefully do what they are doing would just be a dream come true!
Are there any long-term ambitions you have either on stage or off it?
It would be my absolute dream to play Christine Daaé in either The Phantom of the Opera or Love Never Dies. From the very first time my mum took me to see Phantom, I have wanted to be in it ever since. I have been having singing lessons for over 4 years now to help train my voice and am currently working on the song ‘Love Never Dies’ from the musical. It would just be my all time dream role.
If you won a million pounds what would you spend the money on?
I would move to London with my best friend Elle so that I could go to musical theatre school. I would also spend the money on going to see Love Never Dies and The Phantom of the Opera every night so that I didn’t have to travel all the way down from Stratford-upon-Avon to see them.
Who is your favourite actor? Who is your favourite actress?
I must admit I don’t watch a lot of films so I am going to go back to musical theatre here! I have one favourite actor- Ramin Karimloo currently playing The Phantom in Love Never Dies and I have two favourite actresses. My first favourite actress is the Christine I saw in The Phantom of the Opera in the West End and she stole the show for me. Her name is Celia Graham and my second favourite is the OLC Christine of Love Never Dies- Sierra Boggess. She will never be forgotten in Love Never Dies history as that was when she made her very first West End debut. They are all amazing inspirational people.
What would be your favourite meal if taken out to dinner?
It would have to be Steak! Medium-rare served with beautifully seasoned saute potatoes and vegetables. Maybe a sauce too, but I don’t know which one!
What is your favourite musical and favourite film?
Tough to choose just one musical but if it did come down to having to choose just one it would have to be Love Never Dies! It is just like my life! Every time I get paid, I go to book tickets to see it. I would go and see it every single day if I could!
My favourite film is The Phantom of the Opera (2004 version). I know many people aren’t keen on this version but I love it. It is my secret obsession – having seen it over 70 times! No exaggeration there either!
Any parts of the world you would like to go to or have been to?
The two main places that I would love to go to are New York because of Broadway, and Australia. Now it just so happens that I’m off to Australia this year for three weeks so I am very excited about that.
What is it like working on The Archers as Phoebe?
Working on The Archers is incredible. I remember my audition like it was yesterday. Because it is a radio programme and not on television you do a lot of things differently. It was a lot more laid back and people weren’t staring at you constantly – the studio had a very ‘homely’ feel. I remember my dad phoning me and saying ‘I’d like to speak to Phoebe please’ and I was on the school bus at the time, coming home from school so I replied with ‘What, the Phoebe on our bus?’ and then my dad said ‘No, you!’. At this point I was very confused and the conversation went on for a few minutes longer until he finally decided to tell me what he was on about and said I landed myself the role of Phoebe.
I was nervous to do my first recording but all the cast and crew put my mind at ease and made me feel very welcome and after that, I couldn’t wait to go back and do many more!
Phoebe is a great character to play. At times she can be quite stroppy (my dad says I don’t need to act those scenes!) and at other times she can be very calm and laid-back, so its really good to be able to explore the different emotions that she may feel. You have to put yourself in the characters shoes and think how you would act if you were in a situation like them. That is what it’s all about. You can’t be a character if you don’t understand their emotions. Playing Phoebe is amazing and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the cast, crew and most of all my family.
Who would you most like to perform along side?
This man’s name has come up alot in this interview but it would definitely have to be Ramin Karimloo. In case you hadn’t guessed, I think he is amazing! The way he portrays his characters and the emotion he puts into the songs he sings is phenomenal. It would be my dream to perform alongside him.
Anything else you might like to add?
The main part in getting anywhere in life is believing in yourself. You may have been to auditions that you didn’t get a part in but that doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. You just weren’t what the producers were looking for. It could even be as small as; your hair wasn’t the right colour or you were too tall or too short, not because you aren’t good at what you’re doing. I have been to many auditions that I didn’t get but its all about the experience. If you get knocked down then get straight back up again! Believe in yourself, work hard and you will get somewhere.
Thanks Lucy for taking time out to have a chat!
As well as being in The Archers, Lucy has numerous roles in her portfolio, including (but not exclusively);
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, March 2004 to October 2004. MacDuff’s daughter, in Macbeth.
Grimm’s Tales, with Carpe Diem Theatre, at the Civic Hall and Evesham Arts Centre. Played ‘Gretel’ in Hansel and Gretel and one of the dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Drawfs – 2004
Alice in Wonderland – The Musical, with Wilson Roberts and Falcon Productions, at The Civic Hall. Played the mouse. Had to sing a solo – March 2005.
Wizard of Oz, a Carpe Diem Production, at Evesham Arts Centre and Waterside Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Played Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. March 2006.
Romeo & Juliet – Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Played a child. March 2006 – October 2006 and Theatre Royal Newcastle in November 2006
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory with Carpe Diem. Played Violet Beauregarde. August 2007 at The Civic Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon and again in December 2007 at Shakespearience, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Played Tallulah in Bugsy Malone November 2010
Interview questions by Neil Cheesman Twitter @LondonTheatre1
25th May 2011