Anthony Horowitz: New episodes of Foyle's War?

The first episode of 'Foyle's War' was aired in 2002. The series was canceled after the fifth season (2008), but was revived in 2010 to run for another three years. A total of 28 episodes were created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz.
Will there ever by another unexpected revival of 'Foyle's War'? In 2016 Anthony Horowitz said "It had to come to an end sometime. We went from 1940 all the way through to 1947 – and I told countless true stories about the war. I felt that there were no more true stories to tell about that period, I’d sort of covered pretty much every area."

But Anthony Horowitz seems to have changed his mind. “I’d certainly be up for a Christmas special  or two if anybody asked,” he told Radio Times in 2019, before addressing the 'missing year' of 1944. “It would actually make a whole series!” Horowitz recently wrote a short story, called 'Foyle's Last Case', as a Christmas sprecial.

Foyle’s War starred Michael Kitchen as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle and Honeysuckle Weeks as his ever resourceful driver Samantha Stewart.

"Foyle’s War was a passion project for me from start to finish and I miss it to this day. It really cheers me up to think that Radio Times readers still hold it in such high regard," Horowitz said.

"I wrote the last episode of Foyle’s War in 2014, but no matter where I am in the world, people still tell me how much it means to them. And the repeats still get high viewing figures."

And in other news: Even Anthony Horowitz seems to read my tweets...

[Review] Honeysuckle Weeks in 'The Sentence is Death'

'The Sentence Is Death' is Horowitz’s fast-paced sequel to 'The Word Is Murder.' In both mysteries, he mashes up fact and fiction, telling the story through a character based closely on himself.
Buy the book here
Author Anthony Horowitz (the fictional author of the real book) is in a spot of bother: filming of the latest scene of Foyle’s War (which in fact he wrote in real life) isn’t going to plan and he’s running behind on his (fictional) novel detailing the first case he investigated with Daniel Hawthorne (as detailed in the real 'The Word Is Murder'). He soon finds those issues paling into insignificance when Hawthorne enlists his help in a new case.

When Honeysuckle Weeks (a character in this real novel but also a leading actress on 'Foyle's War') steps off a bus during the filming of a scene, a taxi pulls up, ruining the take, and out steps private eye Daniel Hawthorne. Finally, a completely fictional character!

Lawyer Richard Pryce has been found bludgeoned to death. Oddly, as Pryce was a teetotaller, the murder weapon was a bottle of wine. A bottle of wine worth £3,000 to be precise. What was the meaning of Pryce’s last words? And why did someone paint a 3-digit number in green paint on the wall next to his body?

Horowitz and Hawthorne are a team: Hawthorne solves a crime and Horowitz tags along, taking notes in order to write a book. The set-up is a bit like the television series Castle, where successful mystery novelist Richard Castle tags along with an NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett. But Horowitz just can’t help himself — he thinks he can outsmart Hawthorne and solve the mystery. And so he interrupts interviews by asking questions at the wrong moment, draws conclusions that simply muddy the waters and comes close to tipping off the murderer.

Just as in 'Foyle’s War', there are twists and turns and unexpected developments. The fact-fiction blurring continues to the last page when Horowitz (the author? the character? both?) thanks his wife, his publisher and — Daniel Hawthorne in the acknowledgments.

I am totally enchanted and looking forward to the next book in this riveting serie.

Honeysuckle Weeks plays Agatha Christie

I'm quite happy to confess that I was perhaps premature (or just dead wrong) to predict the end of the acting career of Honeysuckle Weeks. I was alerted to the fact that Honeysuckle Weeks has been contracted by the creators of the hugely successful Canadian-based 'Frankie Drake Mysteries' to appear in (just) one episode.
Frankie Drake (an obvious reference to Francis Drake, the famous or infamous Elizabethan explorer, depending on which side of history your heart lies) is a female female private detective living in Toronto in the 1920s. Drake started the Drake Detective Agency and – along with her partner Trudy Clarke – tries to solve cases the police can't, won't or hesitate to investigate. The series is created by the same team that also was responsible for the acclaimed 'Murdoch Mysteries'.

Honeysuckle Weeks will not have to travel to Canada, because in this particular episode of the 'Frankie Drake Mysteries', Drake and Clarke will cross the Atlantic to meet Agatha Christie, played by Honeysuckle Weeks. The Episode is entitled 'No Friends Like Old Friends'.
Honeysuckle Weeks and Agatha Christie do share a common bond. Not only has Honeysuckle Weeks performed in several of Agatha Christie's plays, appeared in Agatha Christie's Poirot: Cards on the Table as Miss Rhoda Dawes, but she also unintentionally emulated Agatha Christie's anxiety-driven disappearance.

Life can be circular.

[Update 08 August 2019] The International Movie Database (IMDB) finally manage to catch up with events.
The episode 'No Friends Like Old Friends' was aired on 16 September 2019.
[Update 09 September 2019] Maybe we can appeal to the BBC to stop producing the horrid adaptations (and I stretching the meaning of that word to its absolute breaking point) of Sarah Phelps ('Witness for the Prosecution', 'Ordeal by Innocence', 'The ABC Murders' and the upcoming 'The Pale Horse').
Instead, the BBC should consider producing a series of original scripts featuring Young Miss Jane Marple, played by Honeysuckle Weeks.

Honeysuckle Weeks to play Jade Blackwell?

Gilian Baker is a former American literature professor who decided write her own mysteries. She calls these mysteries 'cosy', although I often wonder what is really cosy about cold blooded murder.
The protagonist of her, rather obscure, mysteries is Jade Blackwell, 'a former English professor who got out of academia while she was still (mostly) sane. She’s now an online entrepreneur—a blogger and ghostwriter. She uses her natural inquisitiveness, analytical skills, and finely-tuned bullshit meter (from years of teaching college students) to solve murderers in the village of Aspen Falls, Wyoming. She married her high school sweetheart, Christian. They are happily married and have a daughter, Penelope (Ellie) who is away at college. She loves murder mysteries, especially Agatha Christie. Hercules Poirot is her mentor, and she describes herself as a much younger, better-looking Miss. Marple. She loves her cats, Tommy and Tuppence, but hates cleaning up hairballs'.

You understand, Gilian Baker and Jade Blackwell are virtually the same person.

To date Gilian Baker has written three mysteries, all curiously short, which is a strange aspect for somebody who claims 'to just show ‘em how it’s done', because most mysteries need much more pages to develop the characters and solve the murders. To be fair, my own mysteries also take just 180 pages from start to finish.

During an online interview, Gilian Baker was asked who would play the major parts, when (or rather, if) a movie or TV-series is made. She answered 'This is the hardest question you’ve asked. I’m not familiar with American actors since I only stream British TV. And a few of these choices would take a miracle to accomplish, but here goes: An older Honeysuckle Weeks as Jade Blackwell.'

Gilian Baker has her own channel on YouTube. At the time of writing this column, the channel had one subscriber.

The 'Inner Wisdom' of Honeysuckle Weeks

I readily admit that I haven't seen all episodes of Foyle's War. Yet we do own the first couple of seasons on DVD and I do know the series is on par with the likes of Midsomer Murders, Morse, Lewis and Endeavour. On reflection, my subconscious refusal to watch Foyle's War is more to do with me than the quality of the writing or of the acting. I mean, Anthony Horowitz created the series and nearly wrote all episodes, so excellence was (and still is) assured.
So, why didn't I watch Honeysuckle Weeks playing her Sam Stewart, while I do maintain this weblog? I have the feeling that Honeysuckle Weeks is always acting a bit too 'out of breath', as if she is suffering from a wee bit of ADHD and her medication hasn't kicked in yet. She seems too eager to act and that gave me the impression of over-acting.

Honeysuckle Weeks is pretty, but not – and she surely agrees with me on this – stunningly beautiful. She also doesn't have that vague inner beauty so many of her colleagues seem to have. I have the distinct feeling that, behind all her smiles, intelligence, rakishness and joyfulness, there's some tragedy hiding deep within her. That tragedy sometimes rather sneakily manages to escape.

And yet...

Even with all these little flaws, Honeysuckle Weeks exudes an 'inner wisdom'. As if an ancient spirit lives in her youthful body. And that makes her special and maybe even unique in that mostly empty world of glitter and glamour.

Did disappearance end Honeysuckle Weeks' career?

In 2016 Honeysuckle Weeks shortly disappeared from the face of the earth. At the time she was being treated in a mental health unit for anxiety and stress, so people were understandably worried about her welfare.
Yes, there were some similarities between the disappearance of Honeysuckle Weeks and that of Agatha Christie in 1926, but the latter was able to keep writing the mysteries she was renowned for. I suppose her publishers were having an anxious wait for her next mystery, but she quickly put them at easy with the quality of her next few books.

Honeysuckle Weeks was not so lucky and it seems that producers and production houses are now reluctant to hire her. Producing a movie or television series carries substantial financial risks and one would like to hire actors that are dependable and stable. She had counseling to help her, but it is rumoured, however, that Honeysuckle Weeks canceled one or two rehearsed readings in 2018 at the very last moment. People tend to remember that sort of erratic behaviour when they consider an actor for a potential role.

Another problem is that her career is a bit uneven. Yes, Honeysuckle Weeks did have a great run as a child actor and she was extremely lucky to land the part of Sam in Foyle's War, but times have changed. She's older, more mature and her good looks have now faded, possibly exacerbated because of her continued smoking. Which is unwise because your face is the ultimate tool of an actor.
The end result of her ill advised flight from treatment is that she hasn't been offered a proper acting job since 2016.

It is surely encouraging that my column about Honeysuckle Weeks being a perfect candidate to play Jem Flockhart receives the most visitors. Apparently viewers have not forgotten her and still want to see her act.

Honeysuckle Weeks to play Jem Flockhart?

Surgery was brutal and undertaken without either anesthetic or antiseptic, organs sliced and pickled in formaldehyde in backstreet labs, bodies boiled in copper cauldrons – the world of medical science in the 19th Century was not for the weak of stomach or faint of heart.
Elaine Thomson used her study on the social history of medicine as the inspiration for a series of acclaimed novels. The first two of these have now been optioned by the television production company behind the current primetime hit, The Durrells.

"Sid Gentle Productions have optioned them and are working on getting a writer to adapt them for the screen,” Elaine Thomson recounts, “They showed an interest as soon as the first in the series, Beloved Poison, was released and convinced me to sign on the dotted line [Source]."

Her rather gruesome thrillers feature Victorian apothecary Jem Flockhart, a woman who has to roam around disguised as a man. "I wanted someone complex and flawed, and also a female protagonist, but didn’t know how I could have a woman to be everywhere and say whatever she wanted in the 19th Century, so I decided to disguise her as a man."
So, who would be able to portray Jem Flockhart?

My choice would be Honeysuckle Weeks. She has an instantly recognizable face. Her own description of it is “period” meaning that she seems to pick up a lot of roles set in the past [Source].

Her slender body is perfectly suited to hide the femininity and to play Jem Flockhart who dashes through the Victorian underworld filled with medical men with murder in their hearts.
I have taken the liberty of alerting Sid Gentle Productions to Honeysuckle Weeks.

Honeysuckle Weeks in 'Young Girl'. A rehearsed reading

Since 2008 there exists an Adopt a Playwright Award to support playwrights, who have had at least one play staged, to find the time, space and financial backing to hone their craft and write another.
The edition of 2017 featured 'Young Girl' by Adam Hughes. The cast included Natalie Gumede, Jason Merrells, Honeysuckle Weeks, Colin McFarlane and Tanya Moodie.

The play centred on Graham Clark (played by Colin McFarlane), who back in the 1970s was the first black presenter of a primetime game show. A pioneer for change, this stand-up comedian and straight-talking Yorkshire man was much loved by the nation; “just thinking about him used to put a smile on my face”, reminisces one of the cast.
Honeysuckle Weeks, courtesy of Rollo Weeks]
Fast forward to 2017, however, and that has all changed. Graham is currently in a prison cell, having been convicted of historic sex crimes. Half the nation thinks he’s guilty; the other half doesn’t want to believe it. In the latter camp is his daughter Chloe (played by Natalie Gumede), a television and radio host, who is determined to prove her father’s innocence. Whilst everyone else has given up on him she is adamant the truth will out.

It goes without saying that the theme of this play is highly topical and guaranteed to elicit strong emotions. The play itself asks some uncomfortable questions: would you – could you – stand by a family member or friend who had been convicted of a sex crime? How far would you go to prove a loved one’s innocence? And is it really possible for a person who achieved so much; made so many people happy and raised vast amounts of money for charity, to have committed such a crime? This latter is something that will speak to a lot of us – there was universal shock when, for example, Rolf Harris was convicted of indecent assault.

Where I found the writing particularly strong was how it addressed the impact of the above on family and friends – the toll taken, and the lasting consequences. Yet, although the subject matter is dark, the play is, in turns, witty and wry – and the nostalgic element lends some warmth to what would otherwise be a grim couple of hours. Even so, you could feel the tension stretched across the auditorium and a rapt audience as the play hurtled towards its shattering conclusion. Bearing in mind that this was “just” a read-through, it bodes very well indeed for the final version.

Source here and here.

Honeysuckle Weeks suffered uniform fetish shock

When Foyle’s War returned in 2013, six years after it was axed by ITV, the popular 1940s drama created by Anthony Horowitz will feature a very different Samantha Stewart.
"I asked Anthony if, this time, she be a little less of of an ingĂ©nue," said Honeysuckle Weeks, who played Stewart. "I hesitate to use the word 'clown’, but she did tend to catch villians with dustbin lids."

Weeks was happy that she kept her uniform buttoned up during the series, which was set during the Second World War. "It’s mostly true that the people who support you don't want to see you taking your clothes off and bonking any Tom, Dick or Harry."

The then 33-year-old actress added: "I saw a dating advert the other day that said, 'Do you wear a uniform? Or fancy those who do?’ And I thought, 'Oh, my God,’ I didn’t realise it was a fetish."


Honeysuckle Weeks in 'The Turn of the Screw'

Having missed a chance to play the role in a TV production some years ago, actress Honeysuckle Weeks was happy to take to the stage as the troubled governess in 'The Turn of the Screw', a new adaptation of the classic ghost story, written by Henry James.
'The Turn of the Screw' gives her an intriguing 'corset part', as a repressed young woman from a clerical family who is forced to confront her own demons while looking after two orphaned children.

The other main character in the story is a housekeeper played by Helen Weir, who had a long running role (370 episodes) as Pat Sugden in the TV series 'Emmerdale'.

"She is a kind of narrator and a way for the audience to understand events which completely overwhelm the governess," Honeysuckle explained.

Two children have been mysteriously abandoned by their previous carers and a young woman is appointed as governess in the Victorian era. Then, the governess sees a strange figure at the country mansion and starts investigating the ghostly goings-on.

"You know the Nicole Kidman film The Others? It's basically that story in its original form," said Honeysuckle. "It's all about who was the ghost and who wasn't, but in the play it's more nebulous whether there is a ghost or it's in her mind.

"It's a challenging role getting the tension going with the audience. A lot depends on the atmosphere. I want the audience to hate the character but at other times to feel sorry for her and love her. Audiences are loving it. They've been terrified – we can hear them gasp."

Though other commitments kept her away from the theatre for a decade, she is a believer in stage discipline – "there’s nowhere to hide and it’s also good for the voice".

Source and Source. The play ran in 2008.

Honeysuckle Weeks in 'Absurd Person Singular'

Fans of Honeysuckle Weeks may be in for a bit of shock when they see her in Alan Ayckbourn's 'Absurd Person Singular'.
"I start off playing a seemingly normal and sane person," she explains. "But by the end of the second scene my character, Eva Jackson, falls apart, attempting suicide several times. It might not sound it, but it is funny.

"The play is obviously different to most other things I've done. However, Eva is similar to Samantha in that they are both challenging, very determined people. But doing comedy is certainly a challenge."

Featuring an all-star cast which includes Sara Crowe ('Four Weddings And A Funeral'), Matthew Cottle ('Game On'), Marc Bannerman (Eastenders), Deborah Grant ('Bergerac') and David Griffin (Hi-de-Hi), 'Absurd Person Singular' is a classic comedy.

Set in three different kitchens, on three consecutive Christmas Eves, the play charts the success of the Hopcrofts, as they attempt to rise up the social ladder, eventually overtaking the friends who once patronised them. Havoc ensues at the drinks party they hold to impress their high-powered friends – but that’s nothing compared to what happens over the next two years when the friends return their hospitality!
"The tour has been going so well," says Weeks, who last performed at the King's Theatre three years ago as Viola in Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'.

"We have a great cast but, unlike my TV work, working in the theatre is so much harder, especially when you have to learn all your lines. The hours are better, though."

The actress who started out her career at a very young age maintains she has no real worries about finding work when she eventually becomes old and grey.

"I was recently quoted as saying, 'You don't need to retire in acting, as there will always be a need for a granny somewhere.' And it's true. Look at the likes of Helen Mirren or Dame Judy Dench – they're still performing, and in mainstream films at that. If anyone needs a granny in the future, I'll make myself available."

Source and source. Interview edited for length. Play ran in 2008

Honeysuckle Weeks in 'Twelfth Night'

Sadly, Shakespeare seems a step too far for some theatregoers. They dismiss his work as a piece of tedious antiquity not worth dusting down. Witness a disappointing scattering of vacant seats on press night.
[Image courtesy of Rollo Weeks]
Yet here was as compelling a reason to succumb to the Bard’s spell as you could wish for. A splendid cast under the direction of Patrick Mason enchanted throughout. Here was a production that strove to please with a feelgood factor that would challenge any dissenters. The comic duplicity and mistaken identities were deftly delivered, counterpointed with moments of romantic poignancy.

Matthew Kelly made a mesmeric Malvolio, every inch a pompous steward, right down to the affected, impatient twitching of his fingers. Here was vanity of stupendous gravitas yet when undone he became incandescent with hurt.

Honeysuckle Weeks, enchanted as Viola. Disguised as a boy and serving her master Orsino (Bob Cryer), she gave a wry edge to her romantic message carrying to Olivia (Rebecca Egan) in this love triangle with a twist.
[From: Shakespeare Survey - page 59]
The heavyweight humour was courtesy of the bawdy shenanigans of Sir Toby Belch (Christopher Benjamin), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Roger Barclay) and Feste (Hilton McRae).

This trio fired off each other with impeccable timing, none more so than when their late night revelries were halted by Malvolio.

Anita Booth was a sparky Maria. Christopher Harper as Sebastian – brother of Viola – triggered the concluding confusion as the story spiralled into its farce-like denouement.

The production was staged in Mike Britton’s strikingly simple yet impressive set where the sides contract from walls to columns like vertical blinds.

Source. Play ran in 2005.

Honeysuckle Weeks: Be ‘careful’ over Time’s Up

British actress Honeysuckle Weeks (1979) has voiced her concerns over the Time’s Up anti-sexual harassment movement. The actress is best known for her role of Samantha (Sam) Stewart in Foyle's War.
"I think women have to be a bit careful," she said, "Any minute now they’re going to find out that no one wants them to dance... God forbid the frisson between the sexes should be lost, because everyone’s too terrified."

"I think it’s dangerous that people are putting in minor indiscretions with serious assault," Weeks added.

She explained she was in support of Frances McDormand’s stance who, when collecting her leading actress Bafta in a brightly-printed dress, told the audience of black gowns and tuxes: "I have a little trouble with compliance." Weeks voiced her amazement of the Bafta’s blackout: "There wasn’t a shred of make-up on anyone."”

Her feelings echo mine perfectly. The 2018 Bafta's were more like a funeral then a celebration.


Honeysuckle Weeks' lyrics in 'The Liberation of Colette Simple'

A new musical adaptation of a Tennessee Williams short story penned by eight different lyricists including  Honeysuckle Weeks, Amy Rosenthal and Robert Holman.
A brand new musical from a brand new company, 'The Liberation of Colette Simple' is a story about an awakening. Barricaded behind her white picket fence and line of petunias, Colette Simple sells trinkets from her shop in Middle America without really letting life in. But life decides to trample on her petunias one day and pay her a visit.

Based on Tennessee Williams’s 1941 one-act-play 'The Case of the Crushed Petunias', this also bears echoes of Williams’s more famous works. Colette has the mollycoddled air of Laura in 'The Glass Menagerie', and there’s a whiff of Blanche DuBois in her eventual collapse. Here though, the story is lighter, funnier and flimsier than either of Williams’s later plays.

In the hour-long show, performers Nathalie Carrington (Colette) and Gary Tushaw (everyone else) sing their way through the narrative in songs written by eight different lyricists, including Honeysuckle Weeks, Desmond O’Connor, Robert Holman and Amy Rosenthal.
French composer Vincent Guibert writes the music, resulting in a stylised, witty mix of straighter musical ballads, forties swing, rap and rock.

Though Carrington and Tushaw give committed, commanding performances, the loud onstage band often drowns out the lyrics. The songs get samey in the middle, and the piece barely varies its exhaustingly upbeat tone.

But a handful of tunes bring a charming and disarming quirkiness, such as Honeysuckle Weeks’s 'Liberation Song', when Carrington’s Colette breaks away from her old life with a frenzied physical performance. Matt Peover’s elegant stage direction contains some nice surprises: the moment Colette discovers her petunias have been ravaged, and a huge cascade of earth falls from the sky with a flump, is just brilliant.

It’s a strong first work from a company bound to blossom.


The play ran in 2014.

Honeysuckle Weeks in 'A Daughter's Daughter'

The love between a mother and daughter turns to jealousy and bitterness in Christie's fifth novel published in 1952 under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. Ann Prentice falls in love with Richard Cauldfield and hopes for new happiness. Her only child, Sarah, cannot contemplate the idea of her mother marrying again and wrecks any chance of her remarriage. Resentment and jealousy corrode their relationship as each seeks relief in different directions. Are mother and daughter destined to be enemies for life or will their underlying love for each other finally win through?
'The Mousetrap' might be the longest running play in history, while this delicate drawing room drama, a radical departure from the murder scene for Agatha Christie, saw only a week's run when it opened in 1956. But it reveals Christie as a writer of far greater nuance and emotional insight than she's normally credited with.

'A Daughter's Daughter' traces the slightest tear in the fabric of two women's post-war lives, and the complete unravelling that follows. Roy Marsden's elegant revival, the first since the play's premiere, makes for harrowing viewing, thanks largely to Jenny Seagrove's haunting portrait of an ageing widow, Ann, forced to choose between her daughter and her new partner Richard, stoutly delivered by Simon Dutton.
 'He's the kind of man,' Honeysuckle Weeks' magnetic Sarah declares, the moment she sets foot back in Blighty and her mother's house, 'who'd make her fetch his slippers.' So he is, but the notion that her mother might be happier so doing than drinking gin and dabbling in cocaine like her arrogantly liberated daughter, is not one Sarah can countenance.

The second half begins three years later, when Ann's decision begins to bear disturbing fruits. Tracey Childs's eagle-eyed, redoubtable Dame Laura presides over this awful harvest as Ann's oldest friend, noting too the subtle shifts in post-war concepts of class, loyalty and femininity. It remains a stiff, antique affair, improbable conversations and unlikely doorbell interruptions abound. But it's also surprisingly potent, shot through with devastating crimes involving nothing so crude as a corpse nor so clean and neat as guilt and innocence.

You can't help but wish Christie had been less astonishingly successful as a crime writer if it meant she'd written more plays.

The play ran from 2009 to 2010. Source.

Honeysuckle Weeks on Anno Birkin

Who was Anno Birkin (1980-2001)?
It is something Anno often asked himself. Just before he died he scrawled that very question (similarly phrased but with an expletive inserted) in huge capital letters on the walls of the house he had been sharing with friends near Milan.
Anno, scion of one of Britain's foremost creative dynasties, belonged to a band called Kicks joy Darkness. In 2001, KjD were in Italy, working on their first album, when one night, in a thick fog, three of the four band members were involved in a freak car crash. Swerving to avoid a broken down car in the middle of the motorway, they crashed into a truck parked on the hard shoulder. Anno and his two bandmates were killed instantly.
Theirs is in essence, a story of life's randomness – young men living on the edge, pursuing a dream, relishing a world that was theirs to conquer. And in a split second, it was all over.
[Anno Birkin. Picture by LaurenticWave]
Yet with every life lost, no matter how short, there is a legacy. Despite being just a month short of his 21st birthday, Anno had already made his mark. He wrote poems – hundreds of them, in notebooks, on the backs of envelopes, on any scrap of paper that was to hand. Some of them became songs. Some of them were shared with the two great loves of his live, actresses Milla Jovovich and Honeysuckle Weeks.

To celebrate the publication of Who Said the Race is Over? in 2003, some of the woman in Anno's life we asked to choose one his poems, and tell us about the Anno they knew.

[No title]
I sat by myself past the bridge by the great white balloon,
          with my guilt by the great yellow moon.
This place where I ventured with fire and with fear
          of the devil's omnipotent moon.

And the wound in my heart bled into my brain,
and the wind blew the rain in my eyes,
and I though it was tears, and I cried at my being in love.
And I writhed in the light of the moon strung above -
          that lunatic moon hung above.

My senses were sharp!
And volcanic her lingering, luminous soul, we had rolled in
the raw light of manic delusions and danced like the dead.

Her head in my hands, like a spell, like a charm,
like a luminous psalm for my psyche, my arms are wrapped
tightly, and loosely enfolding the night
and the folds of desire that are tight round my throat,
and the music of madness floats on hind legs
through the dregs of my sunken serenity.

Do you trust me to cling to your word? For I do -
  every letter.
I'm better off burned by your fire than cold to the world,
         My desire.
            My earliest memory.

We're animals trying to be angels,
but we are not able to know without words;
yet we grow without known the verb, and we love without grammar.

[Summer, 2000]
Honeysuckle Weeks
Anno wrote this poem a week or so after I confessed that I loved him, which was a terrible position to put him in because at the time, I happened to be entangled with one of his oldest friends. We had known each other since we were 15, but later, love just sort of crept up on us. We found we wanted to spend all our time talking to each other.
He came to visit me at my house in Vauxhall Fields, and we bought tickets for a flight in the Vauxhall hot air balloon which used to be tethering outside my front door. I think what Anno was doing in the poem – and in life – was trying to separate the pure from the sordid. Like a lot of teenage boys, he felt guilty about his own desires and he tried to elevate them trough poetry.
I always had the feeling with Anno that I had to catch up – he had it all figured out somehow. Because he was so complete, so perfect, everybody wanted a piece of him – and now they can have it through his poetry. He still affects everything I think about, everything I do.
The Great White Balloon was taken down shortly after the London Eye opened. But there is still a rough patch of grass where the moorings used to be and I will never forget being 100 feet above London, floating on love and hot air.


Honeysuckle Weeks in 'King Lear'. A rehearsed reading

Now at the age of 'fourscore and upward' (85!), and at the pinnacle of his career, veteran actor Joss Ackland was finally ready to take on the Everest of Shakespearean roles in an unprecedented play reading of King Lear.

Directed by world leading director Jonathan Miller and joined by an all-star cast, Joss was the first Lear to tread the boards at London’s newest theatre, the St James Theatre, before returning to his theatrical roots at the The Old Vic over 60 years after joining The Old Vic Company.
[Image courtesy of Patric Baldwin]
Ackland had pulled together an incredible company of acting friends both old and new, his aim to “bring together three generations of actors”. The cast included Joss Ackland, Tony Britton, Greta Scacchi, Tony Robinson, Michael York, John Nettles (playing Cornwall), Barrie Rutter, Honeysuckle Weeks (playing Cordelia), Shaun Dooley, Lee Ingleby, Jack Tarlton, Jos Vantyler, Vernon Dobtcheff and Robert Young.

This much anticipated gathering was presenting the reading in support of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the disease that took Joss’s much loved wife Rosemary.

Shakespeare’s cruelest, and most demanding play, King Lear tells the story of an old man desperately trying to hold both his family and kingdom together. Loyalties and loves are divided as Lear is forced to face the realities of age and the passage of time.

"It is the irony of the play that by the time you are old enough to play Lear you are too old to play Lear," Ackland says. But not only does Joss feel he has the experience of a full life to bring to the role – a life that has not been without it’s own tragedy – he has the strength and stature too. "Lear has to be like a felled oak not a sapling."

The formidable play and cast could be seen and heard from the 22nd to the 29th September 2013, at The Old Vic and St James Theatre.

Despite the scale and grandeur of the event, the death of Cordelia stilled the nine hundred plus audience to utter silence. A testament to the quality and superb acting of this distinguished company.

Honeysuckle Weeks in 'These Shining Lives'

The new Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, north London, opened in 2013 with a three-star play about girls in a 1920s Chicago watch-making factory who are gradually alerted (though not by the bosses) to the dangers of radium in the illuminated dials when one of them becomes seriously ill.
Although slightly over-sentimental and mawkish, Melanie Marnich’s 'These Shining Lives', premiered in Baltimore in 2008, does have its roots in 'proper work' and industrial upheavals.

And the play was given a top notch cast with Honeysuckle Weeks of Foyle’s War television fame (Sam Stewart in the first eight seasons) playing Charlotte, the airily derisory then gradually supportive workbench colleague of Charity Wakefield’s pretty young Catherine Donohue; the axis of solidarity swings about throughout the play, and both give highly watchable performances.
Weeks was both critical and understanding of Wakefield’s rose-cheeked innocence. They in turn were flanked by Nathalie Carrington and Melanie Bond as other lively workmates, all four bursting into song, or lolling languorously with their parasols on the beach on a Saturday afternoon, glowing with health – and radium.

So, it's also a play about young women starting out and making waves catches that mood. Catherine’s marriage to Alec Newman’s fleshy, well-moulded construction worker comes under stress and strain, but she takes up more cudgels at work as her radium poisoning is fobbed off with false diagnosis and aspirin prescription.

With help from the others - described at the time as 'disgruntled women' - she effects a change in the law. The girls were sipping small radium-dipped brushes to make them pointed enough for the filigree design work. The foreman assured them this is perfectly safe. Radium is ‘more than OK for you — it’s medicinal’. Catherine finally won her lawsuit in 1938, dying soon afterwards.

Loveday Ingram’s production shows off the neat technical efficiency of the new theatre: Tim Shortall’s stripped, stark design, backed with translucent panelling, is poetically lit by Rob Casey, making metaphorical connections between the night sky, the radium glow and moonlight across the lake.

Source and source.

Honeysuckle Weeks in 'Pygmalion'

Shaw's miraculous play, thanks to fine productions by Peter Hall and John Dexter, has escaped from the shadow of the Lerner and Loewe musical. But this revival, directed by Philip Prowse, strikes me as a coarse, strident affair that misses much of its psychological subtlety.
Prowse's main visual idea is to indicate this is a play about theatre. So we have an upstage proscenium arch with a plush velvet curtain that parts to allow star entrances. But it is half-baked to suggest this is a play about performance.

The play's comedy and pathos rest on the fact that Higgins's triumph is also his downfall: his creation, Eliza, ultimately achieves an independence that makes it impossible for her to return to his suffocating, sexless bachelor world.

The two main actors are also imprisoned within the concept. Rupert Everett's saturnine Higgins strikes a note of rasping anger from which he scarcely shifts. There is little suggestion of either the scholarly obsessive or the sadness of a man who awakes too late to Eliza's vibrancy. While nothing can douse the comedy of Eliza's trial outing at Mrs Higgins's tea party, Honeysuckle Weeks also lacks the chiselled articulation that can endow the scene with ecstasy.

The best performances come from the peripheral characters: there is a superb cameo from Stephanie Cole as Higgins's aristocratic mother. But it's a measure of the production's crudity that it ends with a full-blown staging of Eliza's marriage to Freddy Eynsford-Hill, to which Higgins responds with angry contempt. That's a far cry from the subtlety of Shaw's conclusion, in which Higgins's laughter camouflages the desolation of the artist abandoned by his own creation.

Pygmalion - Chichester Festival Theatre - 2010


Honeysucle Weeks in 'Witness for the Prosecution'

'Witness for the Prosecution' was a 2010 production by the Agatha Christie Theatre Company. Leading the all-star cast was Honeysuckle Weeks ('Foyle’s War'), Denis Lill ('The Royal'), Ben Nealon ('Soldier, Soldier'), Robert Duncan ('Drop the Dead Donkey'), Peter Byrne, Jennifer Wilson and Mark Wynter.
'Witness for the Prosecution' was written by Agatha Christie in 1925. It was later made into an Oscar winning movie starring Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power and Charles Laughton.

When the story begins on stage, the essential murder has already taken place and Ben Nealon’s Leonard Vole is the obvious suspect - such a pleasant naive young man who freely admits to all the suspicious circumstances of the case with only his wife’s corroboration of timing to support him.

But Honeysuckle Weeks’ Romaine Vole is not exactly the devoted wife he believes her to be - she has plans of her own. The guttural Russian accent which Weeks adopts is a little hard to understand at first, but her meaning is clear with the character displaying icy cold, calm control almost to the end, and giving evidence in a flat, unemotional tone of voice, until she finally breaks down.

 [Choir of King’s College, Cambridge: Miserere Mei]

Each act begins with a recording of Allegri's Miserere Mei, sung by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge - a very appropriate choice as the one thing you can be sure of in a Christie Mystery is that someone will be in need of divine forgiveness and mercy by the end of the play. What we never know is who, and this courtroom drama really does keep the audience guessing to the very end.

Director Joe Harmston keeps the the story rolling along nicely, balancing drama with comedy and including little observational touches of human behaviour - notably the men absent-mindedly warming themselves by the fire as they discuss the case in hand.

The chief protagonist is Sir Wilfrid, played by Denis Lill, who takes over the case and the show in a star performance of thoughtful deliberation, aggressive interrogation, and chagrin when bested by the comical overtly Scottish housekeeper (Jennifer Wilson). He is well supported by Robert Duncan’s equally thoughtful Mr. Mayhew, and courtroom comedy is credibly conspicuous - understated and very funny - with the verbal sparring between him and Mark Wynter’s prosecution lawyer, Mr Myers, QC.

Agatha Christie and Honeysuckle Weeks

On December 3, 1926, the then 36-year-old Agatha Christie left her home in Sunningdale and drove her car towards Surrey. The next morning the vehicle was found abandoned with a fur coat and her driving license left inside.
Her disappearance sparked an extensive manhunt, with over 1,000 police officers and 15,000 volunteers searching for the author, as well as newspaper adverts urging any members of the public with information to come forward.

Was Christie abducted? Was she lost, wandering through the countryside? Or was she murdered? The prime suspect at the time was her husband Colonel Archibald Christie, who had recently informed his wife that he wanted to divorce her because he had fallen in love with the far younger Nancy Neele.

Eleven days after she disappeared, Christie was discovered in the Swan Hydropathic Hotel in Harrogate where she had registered under the name of Theresa Neele of Cape Town, using the surname of her husband's lover. She later claimed that she had suffered from amnesia.

What really happened will always remain a mystery, but we can assume that Agatha Christie would have been very depressed after learning of her husband infidelity. She might even have contemplated suicide. In her bittersweet semi-autobiographical novel 'Unfinished Portrait' (1934) her alter ego, Celia, made a suicide attempt. "She admitted that it had been very wicked of her to try," Christie wrote.

Then, almost 90 years later, on July 25, 2016, the then (also) 36-year-old actress Honeysuckle Weeks disappeared. She was last seen driving her car 14 miles away from Chichester where she lived. Sussex Police said they were concerned for her welfare as it was unlike her not to get in touch. She had recently told family and friends she was feeling anxious.
The actress was described as around 1.62 meter in height with cropped gingery blond hair. She was last seen wearing a blue anorak and faded blue jeans.

On July 29, Honeysuckle Weeks was found 'safe and sound' after a relative, living in London, contacted the police.

So, why did Honeysuckle Weeks emulate Agatha Christie? Shortly after her disappearance a neighbour hinted that the anxiety could have been exacerbated by the actress and husband Lorne’s regular vicious rows. She disappeared during a stay as a voluntary patient at a care centre near her home in West Sussex. Stressful family issues led her to walking away from problems, she later explained.

"I had to have counselling", she confessed openly two years later. "And I am still having it. It was not a good time for me, but unless you talk about it, you are only repressing yourself again, aren’t you, and that cannot be healthy. I don’t mind you mentioning that time. It was part of me, and, well, there we are."
Was there ever a Nancy Neele in the life of her husband ‎Lorne Stormonth-Darling?

Honeysuckle Weeks in 'The Best Man'

Some things never change. American elections, for example, as this near 60-year-old play about two candidates slugging it out for the American presidency demonstrates. The writing is wise, waspish and insider-ish. Just what you’d expect from the acidic Gore Vidal. Martin Shaw plays William Russell, the principled Secretary running for President at the 1960 Democratic Convention. His trouble is that he can’t keep his trousers on (just like John F Kennedy), and he’s had a mental breakdown the press doesn’t know about.
[Honeysuckle Weeks, Maureen Lipman, Glynis Barber]
His brash rival is Senator Cantwell (played by Jeff Fahey, all teeth and Brylcreem), an unscrupulous Southerner, a family man who 'pours God over everything like ketchup' and who has his own skeletons rattling in the closet.

In Cantwell you hear the chest-thumping of Trump. He’ll use any dirty trick to smear his opponent. But will the more noble Russell hit back with what he knows?

Hobbling between the two candidates is Wycliffe star Jack Shepherd as the lame old President, oozing mortality from every pore.

As the matriarchal representative of 'the women voters', Maureen Lipman casts a beady eye about like an escaped goose. She's great value, though sadly she waddles off for good after livening up Act One.

There are also fine performances from Honeysuckle Weeks, as the shallow chatterbox Mrs Cantwell, and from Glynis Barber, whose loyal public poise hides a decayed but fond marriage to the philandering Russell. The action is all set in a hotel suite and the raucous press gaggle outside the door is reminiscent of that lovely old screwball newspaper comedy The Front Page.

Dated it may be, yet 'The Best Man' is also a real crystal ball of a play, predicting the total moral debasement of today’s political climate. Very well acted, it’s recommended if witty, astute old Broadway plays are your thing.

'The Best Man' ran from 24 February 2018 until 12 May 2018 at the Playhouse Theatre, London.

Honeysuckle Weeks on 'Foyle's War'

'Foyle’s War', the absorbing detective drama starring Michael Kitchen as a Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS) battling crime on the home front during World War II. But he had to share the limelight with his female driver Samantha Stewart.
Honeysuckle Weeks was the actress who played Sam and she gave her thoughts on some aspects of the series.

She started off the show as quite a young person, and I’ve tried to keep that youthful essence as the show has progressed over the last seven years; partly because that is part of her appeal as a character, but also because I instinctively feel that people living during that time had a greater degree of innocence. The war has its effects on her of course, especially in her relationships with men, but it’s her spirit of ploughing on and making do and grace under fire that shines through more than world-weariness, I would say. She brings relief from some of the plot’s darker aspects by being resolutely cheerful, which is great fun to play. During the first season one could say she has more pluck than sense, but as the series progresses she gradually becomes less of a spanner in the works and more of a cog in the engine, so to speak. She has a stoical attitude to adversity and puts the idea of ‘duty’ before self, and this I think informs all the characters in 'Foyle’s War', a selfless attitude which perhaps we’d do better to hold onto today!

My favorite episode is probably 'Among the Few,' which is largely to do with doctors in a hospital that specializes in treating burns victims. It sounds grim, but in fact it’s an incredibly uplifting episode because of the moving relationships that are built up between doctor or nurse and patient, and the bravery of the men who struggle on through life even though their bodies and faces are destroyed. It’s about the heartache of the sweethearts who have to come to terms with the disfigurement of their pilots, and the carousing spirit of the staff who try to improve the lot of their heroic wards. In short, it’s an episode that I think champions all that is best in the human spirit. Oh... and of course, there’s a gripping murder case with lots of explosions and spitfire aerodynamics on the side. It’s also exquisitely shot. Source here.

The first episode of 'Foyle's War' was aired in 2002. The series was canceled after the fifth season (2008), but was revived in 2010 to run for another three years. A total of 28 episodes were created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz.

Will there ever by another unexpected revival of 'Foyle's War'? Anthony Horowitz said "It had to come to an end sometime. We went from 1940 all the way through to 1947 – and I told countless true stories about the war. I felt that there were no more true stories to tell about that period, I’d sort of covered pretty much every area."
He's wrong of course, because 1947 was essentially the start of the Cold War and that tense period could produce some very interesting scripts.

Since Michael Kitchen will turn 70 in 2018, he will probably not be particularly interested to participate in another revival. That said, we could contemplate a structure like 'Morse' morphing into 'Lewis' and 'Lewis' changing into 'Endeavour'.

So, 'Foyle's War' could become 'Stewart's Peace' with Honeysuckle Weeks in the starring role. She confessed to me that the prospect was 'most cockle warming'.