Pat Phoenix is one of the great iconic figures to emerge from television, finding fame in her portrayal of the character Elsie Tanner in the nation’s favourite soap Coronation Street. But few knew that she lived a life that was almost as dramatic off the cobbles as it was on. Acclaimed television writer and playwright Ron Rose wrote the celebrated television drama about the life of Pat Phoenix: The Things You Do for Love: Against the Odds that aired in 1998, he revisits her life here in this brand new play written specifically for the stage.
Taking on the lead role is Lynda Rooke, a familiar face on both stage and television. Lynda recently appeared in the Library Theatre Company’s sell-out production Hard Times in Manchester and has numerous other theatre credits to her name, appearing in productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court and Bristol Old Vic to name just a few. Lynda last appeared at the Octagon Theatre in the 1988 production of Jim Cartwright’s Road and was nominated for a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for her performance. Soap fans might also recognise Lynda from Hollyoaks, where she played Jill Patrick from 1997-2000.
Lynda will be joined onstage by John McArdle who will be taking on the role of Tony Booth, the well-known actor who lived with Pat during the last six years of her life. The couple eventually married in 1986 just days before Pat died. John McArdle has performed several times at the Octagon, most recently in last year’s production The Demolition Man, and is well-known for his television appearances in Brookside, Prime Suspect and Mersey Beat.
Director Elizabeth Newman commented: “I am thrilled with the cast for The Queen of the North, they are wonderful actors and I think that together we can create something really special that will be a fitting tribute to Pat Phoenix. I know that The Queen of the North will be of special interest to local audiences because of the enormous affection with which Pat Phoenix, and of course her Corrie character Elsie Tanner, was held.”
Lynda Rooke said: “I am so pleased to have the opportunity to take on the role of such a strong and inspiring woman. I’m extremely excited, and honoured, to play such a crucial role and was really impressed with the script as soon as I read it. Ron Rose’s writing is fantastic and I really hope that many people from Bolton and the North West who were fans of Pat Phoenix, or perhaps want to know more about her life, will come and see the production”.
The Queen of the North is at the Octagon from 3 – 26 May