Lesley Manville made her debut on the West End stage as a teenager in 1972, and since then has taken on a wide range of roles on stage and screen, including an Oscar-nominated performance in the film Phantom Thread. She was born in Brighton and first enjoyed performing as a singer, winning competitions with her sister. When she was 15, she commuted daily to the Italia Conti stage school in London. Her first professional role was in a West End musical, and in 1974 she joined the cast of the ITV soap opera Emmerdale Farm. After two years she decided to leave, even though the work was well paid, and return to the stage. At the Royal Court in London she appeared in some of the most critically acclaimed new plays of the 1980s including Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls, and Andrea Dunbar’s Rita, Sue and Bob Too. She has also enjoyed a long collaboration with the film director Mike Leigh, memorably playing the alcoholic Mary in Another Year. Her recent TV roles include starring as Cathy in the popular BBC Two sitcom Mum, for which she won a Royal Television Society Award in 2019. She has also played Princess Margaret in The Crown, including a scene in which Margaret shares her favourite records on a BBC radio progamme. She was appointed a CBE in 2021. DISC ONE: Over The Rainbow - Eva Cassidy DISC TWO: My Brother Jake - Free DISC THREE: O Soave Fanciulla, composed by Giacomo Puccini, performed by Jose Carreras, Richard Stilwell and Teresa Stratas and Metropolitan Opera Chorus, conducted by James Levine DISC FOUR: Sugar on the Floor - Etta James DISC FIVE: You Don't Have To Say You Love Me - Dusty Springfield DISC SIX: Not While I’m Around - Barbra Streisand DISC SEVEN: Make You Feel My Love - Adele DISC EIGHT: Phantom Thread III - Jonny Greenwood BOOK CHOICE: A Botanical Encyclopedia LUXURY ITEM: A bed with linen, duvet and pillows CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Over The Rainbow - Eva Cassidy Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Sarah Taylor
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Previously sounds music radio broadcasts, hello, I'm Lorna van and this is the desert island discs. Podcast. Every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island and for right, reasons, the me It is shorter than the original broadcast? I hope you enjoy listening the my castaway this week is the actress leslie Manville she's, one of the stand out talents of her generation the kind of performer whose presence guarantees that, whatever it is, you sat linda, to watch. You are in great hands. Hollywood has called unto her brilliance in greece.
yes with an oscar nomination in twenty eighteen for the phantom threat, but at home in the uk has stores. Shining brightly for decades. It was singing that first revealed her skill. front of an audience and at the age of fifteen she had a two stage school in london. There. She discovered a gift for improvising. And that would come in handy later, working with the director MIKE Leigh, their success together made hunting and of all the actors in his stable. She is his most frequent collaborator. Some people say to slow down in the sixties, not she. In the last few years alone, she's played the titular matriarch in the beloved bbc, sitcom mom, the cleaner he set. sites on a car to address in a hit film. Mrs Harris goes to paris and princess margaret in the crime, very different roles, though they, who share a pragmatism that resonates with her. She says: oh my gravestone, should be written. She just got on with it. Leslie Manville, well,
to desert island disk, sank killer, and thank you so leslie. You have the most incredible range of characters in your career portfolio. What is starting point to get to the heart of a role when you first approach it, you ve, got a kind of trial really get into the bones of these characters: work out what makes them take and what gets me up in the morning is playing people that of a different from me and hopefully different from the carrot to the eye played last time ago. So that kind of diversity of that range of playing You knew ada harris whose a cleaner and princess Margaret knew that the gap between them in a socially and in terms of the class is what really thrills me. You know it ultimately we're all people with beating hearts and blood flowing through our veins, so
its finding the emotional centre of these characters? That's so interesting because you knew princess ma her heart will bleed in the same way that mrs heresies hot bleed de characterised stay with you after you ve left project. I wonder, however, much in character I baby. It's almost I'm on the outside looking in, and I absolutely don't take those characters home with me. I mean I think if I have taken Mary tyrone from long days journey tonight home with me, it would be very serious, so either you'd be ill. It's time to you first disk leslie, but he had chosen it some over the rainbow and its because. My dad had a great singing voice, real kind of crew now and I think in another life. He would have done that professionally. I mean he have loved to have done that, but he was a very carries: matic man, my sister Diana, whose years older than me she has had a beautiful voice as well.
I could sing so we used to do little gigs I mean they might only be in the british legion club or some you know, bingo hall or something, but we used to do these acts and although we did a lot of classical singing diner and I we trained classically what we mostly did in terms of like being entertainers and I'm really young, at this point- I hasten to add- was sing musical songs or modern folk songs and and often my dad would sing ass. Well, so over the rainbow became a kind of family song that we do either just diner nigh or with my dad as well, but years later, when even Cassidy did her version. I was in a not a great place in my life. I was dealing with some sadness and
and I heard her version- and I remember sitting in my living room and playing it eleven twelve thirteen times in a row straight off. I just think voices voice phenomenal The that capacity and over the rainbow, so an unofficial family and some less divided earlier. I think we'd, better human. bet that family. Then you were born in brighton, ninety, fifty six to run and Jane and the youngest of three daughters, and I believe, your mama's
if she could have been abolished, ballet dancer. Yes, she said the settlers wells had asked to join the ballet company when she was eighteen She decided not to because she wanted to marry me that she did not just that was in the day after her rating birthday yeah. My dad had wanted to marry her at sixteen, which you could do then, but her dad said no you're not marrying her until she's eighteen, so very roma, to either got married the day after her eighteenth birthday, so were so where they romantic couple ever childhood sweeter day were very glamorous go yet they My mom was fourteen. My dad was twenty, they were childhood sweethearts and they were together however, they were really really part of that bright sixties. Jenin tonics
you know my mom looked gray in a black cocktail dress and there's some great footage that I've got of them on eight millimeter film, no sound of them, obviously in some little club somewhere in it that just dont saying and just having a great time, and they had some really kind of rock and roll friends as well. So I would facing sociable, you mom could be a dancer, but I think was a full time mom, whereas you type what did he do further
Dad did all sorts. He was a taxi driver. He was a bookmaker. He really love to have a little flutter and I'm a gamble, but I think he must have been like a very successful gambler at times because when he had money he just spent on us, I mean for a while. We had a pony. That was what middle class girls had you not working class girls like us, but we had a pony and very often on a sunday we'd go out the sunday lunch, which was a kind of real treat to new working class. People generally speaking, didn't have the money to do that, but we did, but I'm hesitating to say this, but when I was very little he did go bankrupt. Oh wow, ok and we lived in a privately owned house in the country and then he went bankrupt and after that we lived in it.
so the victorian council house in home, but he was so generous. You know if you have money, he wanted to spend it and give it to you, or at least ten percent, more music. Now, your second disk it some my brother jake by free I remember sundays listening to the charge shoe on radio one in my bedroom, I shared with Diana small bedroom and I had an a full note book and every week I wrote down the top twenty, but my brother Jake was just one of those songs, the me my home loans were raging, you know, and this song just did something for me. So little space that I had between the twin betsy, not bedroom, I'd be dancing around to my brother Jake and just thinking, oh, my god, you know a when am I gonna have sex.
the pop up ads, in the past change. Free and my brother Jake and musical first love for you. So let's talk a bit more about music in your family. There was plenty of it in a household you and your sister Diana were very good singers. Did you inherit that talent from your parents? Do you think from my dad definitely yeah? And I suppose I am well. I have inherited a dancing skill from my mum. We were both classically trained. We went to the hove academy of music,
which we used to go to on a saturday, and then we had another great singing, teach a coup de maguire and we did all the festivals in brighton festival, worthing festival, the cooperative would have a festival. I can't help but blow our own trumpets, but nearly always steiner nigh we come first or second. So a lot people didn't like it, but you those two felt quite good about that. What was it like being in front of an audience and performing? I really enjoyed it and I think that time, he's formative for me, because I know now that if I want to do well- and I want to convince people that I'm this character- it's gonna come through some really hard work, and that goes back to those days when I did work hard on my singing leslie's time for some more music. This number three. What are we going to hear next, when I was about it
Levin diana was fifteen and through all over catch me of music and some of the ode singers there of which diana was one, were invited to go and be at climb for a season, because in vat tat and in lobo m thereon, teenagers so die went and sang in both of those operas and I was struck by the end of the jew at between mimi andrew doleful at the end of act, one and it kind of linked up to a story years late. in nineteen eighty two, I'm in new york with an extraordinary bunch of actresses, doing top girls, the cow churchill play and while we were there, we were invited to go to the metropolitan opera and watch a dress. Rehearsal of Frank, has F, rallies, production of la boh, and I watched tourism. after come on to sing me me and she's tiny
in that moment you, I am quite small as well, and I I watched her and I just thought wow. Maybe I could have been an opera singer. She apps salute. The blue me away, but it was more than that it was a kind of sliding doors moment. You know something I could have done and probably could have done well and had a career doing I hadn't and here I was doing a fantastic play in new york, but watching teresa ah to sing that you at and the top see, of course, which I could do easily, but now sometimes I put this on and I think come on. Let's see you can you still got a girl and I try gather topsail clearly there, but I did. This needs a little bit more polishing and buffering, but while it's one of the most beautiful classical jew s new course it ends I'm saying a more and more a moors heartbreaking.
is the the
who swarthy fund tuna from Puccini's la Boh m performed by tereza, stratus and jose careers with metropolitan opera orchestra conducted by james living less demand for it. You've got tears in her eyes. How can you know I mean you'd have to pay a really tough cookie, not to be moved by that? It's fantastic. and, as you said, a sliding doors moment for you, but there are indeed several pass you could have taken in life. Let let's hear about your next year: fifteen! Nothing when you, Would you mum and dad that you want to leave the school you're at and go to the Italia conti stage school in london? What was your dream at that point? Your ambition. I don't know that I kind of was very clear about it, but I'd heard about the italia conti stage school And I remember that being a kind of clarity about that being what I wanted
why I didn't wanted to go the lab and he didn't know what happened next. I didn't know what would happen next, but I thought that sounds right. I can sing. I can, Do musical theatre? Let's see what happens, I got a full grant from brighton and hove council. They even paid for my train season ticket. My dad, who was a cab driver at the time, used to drive me to brighton station every morning to catch the seven. Thirty five to Victoria, I think he used to absolutely dread me getting on that train because it was full of business. Men mostly going to london and the uniform of italian conti was really short, gray, skirt rather beautiful blue kate, and I would wish why leather boots over the knee and- and I think he just used to
watch me and think, please god let her come home safe, you know, and so he was worried about sending you into the big city, but but it sounds very supportive. If he's driving me they're very supportive, I may be gay, he would give me a pound most days and that would get me tea and toast on the train and get me my lunch and get me home and all of that- and there was a great acting teacher called Julia carey who I'm still in touch with now. Arlene phillips was the dance teacher and I really danced before, not in a kind of I hadn't done classes I think you were actually offered a job while he was still there. I was she was going to former dance troupe, but I remember her saying: look, I'm going to form this troupe. Will you be in it, but it's going to be quite raunchy. I said oh well, miss phillips you mean by butch. In that moment the kind of good girl came out in me, and I just thought I can't be on television wearing stockings and suspend belts it'll be too embarrassing, so she ended up doing it. What was it
well gossip, so the old gossipy, hot gaza, another sliding doors moment, another sliding doze moment now. Leslie, we're gonna hear your next disk. If you don't mind number for its sugar on the floor, at a james and there's no story really linking my life to the song. It's just a song. I discovered and that I now play at least once a week, and it's just for me. It makes me feel good and she's got such a. standing blue, smoky gorgeous gorgeous We send another one. I liked to sing along too, Oh
atta James, an sugar on the floor so new manville, your first job. After stage school was in a western musical and then you landed a pot in emma, there is an enormous learning curve and also at me some money and nineteen. I bought my first flat, so it really did so me up for life and in many ways, but I knew I wasn't gonna stay and I remember them saying you don't want to leave. You know, there's no work out there.
Just I don't know I've done it and I'm off now. Thank you, but let me not financial stability. At such a young age, I mean it's too much and now you must be known in a lot. You knew tat ass, he said was driving a taxi where how did you family feel about you, you go in and wasn't there anxiety but leaving that financial stability behind yeah, I think an ulcer, but I think more than that, my dad just loved seeing on telling everyone up. Your desk to leave work, though Amadeus paid off your stage, korea flourished right. The nineteen eighty see spent a long time. The royal court theater and their use not in some of the most important new place of that era: cow churchill's, top girls, andrea dunbar. Rita sue soon bob to what's the attraction of new writing, for you is lovely being the first act to play a part and I can't deny that I do like it. When I opened the play text and as my name, you know the first production and you ve created this character
while you out the aura, see you met film director might lee and you ve worked together for many years improvising and creating many characters, including award winning role as Mary, she was an alcoholic in the film another year. Where did you find her? How do you go about inhabiting color, it has no, I mean look and I Sometimes you just have to say it's will it's acting because I haven't had my an overly emotional, exceptionally painful life. I've dealt with stuff, I've had you, I've been divorced. I've lost a people in my life tat I loved, but that's not abnormal, but I suppose what I have, which is an ability to somehow or other locate it, and I'm not embarrassed about displaying it's time for disc number well, it's dusty springfield and I loved her as a kid. Anyway, I used to think a wow look at her I make
his big black eyes and the huge blonde hair and her loved her voice. I mean, but when I was creating mary for another year, you have a kind of mockup of the place where your character lives and you get into character. You get changed, you put their clothes on and you you have a little warm up time before you go into an improvisation. And because Mary was so sort of tragic enjoyed the desperation of her life to some degree. This song, you don't have to say you love me, was one of the songs. I used to really warm up to. and I to sing along, but try to sing along as Mary would sing, which was not a very good voice and I'd get warmed up and drinking per and why not married lugging, plugging lugging and desperately screaming out this song and getting more and more in pain. And then again
The improvised yes and dusty springfield and you don't have to say you love me. So let's demand you've been responsible for creating hugely popular roles on stage and screen, including your award. Winning role is cathy in the BBC sitcom mum. Now, can you always tell from a script if something's got legs if it if it's going to be ahead? So what are the key ingredients? I want a whirling for. That's it really. It's script,
How, when things leave a lot of sub text open, you- can really get in there and a not said. Anne mum is so much about what those people are not saying to each other. I think that series was particularly lovely cause it telling a middle aged love story which doesn't often get told yeah. You know yes people over for over fifty over sixty. over. Seventy can fall in love and it was just so tenderly and beautifully down and very hard warming as well. You have described your own experience of parenthood. Is formative? though leslie and how do you send alfie nineteen? Eighty eight with you, then husband, Gary Haldeman, but became a single parent not long afterwards, yeah did you manage to maintain your career while looking after him, I know I know I wasn't gonna fall apart. I didn't fall apart. There was absolutely no question about it. For me, I was
to carry on working, and I was also going to be the most brilliant mother. Somehow I did it. It made me incredibly disciplined about my work means until he was three I only did plays, which was quite good, because I could be with him all day. Apart from the rehearsals, I could be with him all day and then somebody would come at five. Thirty- and I go Do you know a light play like miss julie or something? You didn't initially tell your parents that that Gary had left. No, because was kind of convenience. Gary was going to the states anyway to do a film, so they knew that he was away, and I just thought- Oh well, I won't tell them because men be in a few months. It will be all right, but it was a trick mendous, lonely time days before mobile phones as well. So you knew so. I had to speak to him all. You know what I had imagined for myself. I do ways a man
and being married to gary for a long time. You know we fell in love at the role court theatre. We were having them Stu amazing time together and you we loved each other, and we would we got married. I pregnant on my honeymoon. We came back and did the fantastic bbc film the firm we were having the best time, but then you know the rug was very severely pulled from random my feet, but I'd thought we'd be too If the forever we'd have you know a big family, but maybe if that had have happened, maybe I wouldn't have the career I've got now. I think I'd have given up a lot to have had a good long, marriage and the comfort of all of that, but the price would have been
something, but that don't quite know what time sumo music nicely. This number six, if barbarous dry sand, who has featured heavily in my life when I lived in my flat inches thick, I used to stand at the bottom of the staircase and I used to use the the kind of what's it called the balustrade or some at the bottom of the stairs. I used to protect and was a microphone, so I'd stand there and I give my barbara singing along, but this song barbara used to sing it to her son and although I've never sung this to alfie. I think he'd die of embarrassment if I sang it to him, but music for our and I've been important and when he was young release to dance around the kitchen, the law, but in a way this is a prime so for me to alfie, not while I'm around this
and do you not to worry with us? not one not while I'm around barbarous rice and lastly, the third actress to play princess margaret in the crown and the series features her famous appearance on. Does island learnt, or at least to show that looks very like its leslie. Did you approach that challenge Well, I listened to her desert island discs, obviously and dumb, but the script. It doesn't really use her version. The real time she was on yes, she's an
it'll, more monosyllabic man. I've been today just leave it at that. We already a of the series when you ve got the opportunity to be in a huge. And went back obviously then and watched it all from the beginning. There is a massive wow factor to the whole series, not least of all you know the scripts and the wonderful Dialogue we get to to do and work with my dear friend of mine, This, don't you know, playing siblings, which is just so great and he has written some cracking scenes for queen Elizabeth and princess Margaret that really just deals with the fact that their sisters and, of course I understand that very well having having two sisters of my own leslie, it's time for your next disk number? Seven. What are we going to hear? and why my eldest sister, Brenda try to eat died a few years ago of a brain, tumor I
She was nine years older than me. She had arrived the difficult life unbeknown She got married. to a man who was carrying huntington's career, which is addressed. He's that doesnt presented to you and adult they had two children too little girls and he tried to eat, died in this disease that he had came to the fore and, of course, that the most awful thing was tat. Two daughters inherited it. So my nieces died as adults and Brenda had to live through. That watch it to mean how you begin to deal with your children gives me, that's right How how you begin to do what you're losing your children? God knows, but the imf using thing about her she went,
work in the home where they lived out their lives, beautiful home and she went to work there, so she could be with them for all of that tragedy in her life. She'd, never put it upon you, she'd. Never make me feel guilty that I had a healthy, robust child. She would celebrate alfie celebrate my life. She could have buried her head in the sand been bitter. I'm sure she did feel that life hadn't dealt her a fair lot and it hadn't. but she didn't put that on other people too. She was joyous. She was giggly, she was naughty. She was funny and I miss her hugely there's an adele song make you feel my of which not all the lyrics necessarily pertaining to Brenda, but
is what she did she made. You feel her love. Despite what she'd been through, she won t you to feel good, even though her pain was so immense. When in the name of a and now me too. Egg when name then shad and make you feel my love, everything about your work, ethic leslie, says treatment
in two twenty eighteen, you were nominated for an oscar for your role in net phantom thread with Daniel day Lewis, and you are also at the time appearing in the west end, and I heard that you didn't even miss one performance to attend the oscar ceremony. Thousands of miles away in l, a just talk me through the logistics of that weekend. I was doing long days journey in tonight in the west end and we were doing the kind of american system of doing a late matinee on a sunday and then have the monday off. I say so the oscars we're on a sunday, though so that was a bit of a problem. The theatre didn't want to cancel the saturday, so they said all right will spoke the sunday matinee an add on later in the week
on the sunday morning I got up. There were no flights out of london. That would have got me there in time. So often I have to fly away from her later amsterdam at like six in the morning to pick up a k, a lamp That would get us to the oscars with an hour and a half to get ready at had two hours sleep I got there. there was somebody doing my hair somebody doing my make up somebody doing my nails, somebody giving me a pedicure and somebody dangling diamond air include front. It was absolutely bunkers and of course the lovely thing was the gary omen had been nominated that year and he one so alfie was having a real. You know is nice. It was all if his family, so both of his parents yeah, he would nominate for oscars in the same year, yeah he's part of a very exclusive club. I think only brad pitt and Angelina Jolie's children have had the same thing:
Of course we went to the governing board and we did a bit of that and Gary was their and our fees, half brothers with them and it was lovely, but you know your starving and I said to pull Thomas Anderson, the director, what's the vanity fair party going to be like- and he said it's gonna- be exactly the same as this, but we lots of models, so poor said: let's go will go to a nice hotel downtown. So that's what we do. We got in our cars. We sat in his gorgeous lounge, all of us. Together we had cocktails and Let's see leslie it's almost time to cast you away now. Obviously, a solitary life on the island beckons. How do you agree that prospect? Is it something new? can forward to another practical I mean I do look at things now. Domestic things like problems
the house, and I will really try to work out how to solve them one more track before we send you there, though leslie manville your final choice today, what have you got a full? Well, it's a track from phantom thread. The sound written by the extraordinary johnny greenwood, because that whole job was so significant. Special and wonderful for me and not for the reasons you might think, not because of what doors it opened for me and not because of the oscars, but because of the people and that character who I absolutely loved playing on the soundtrack. It's called phantom thread three and it's just that most warm warm, really meat and two veg piece of music
phantom thread three, from the films and tracked by johnny, greenwood. So stuff castro away. Leslie, I'm gonna give you the bible on the complete works of shakespeare, to take to the island with you Of course, you can also have another book what're you gonna cheese. This was tricky. I thought of taking chekhov short stories.
and I know that would feed my soul, but I think what would be more useful is a kind of botanical encyclopedia, oh so I would know what I could eat what I could pick what I could forage what what was gonna kill me if I at it I could understand what was around me and eat the right things. Would you like it to be a strictly practical call you, or are you happy for it to be a static lazy? It's got to be both because let us that it is as important that considerate done leslie yours, you can also have a luxury item, It's gonna be a bed with some very, very, very good, linen because being on these islands. Gonna be tough, there's gonna, be a law, to do I'm gonna be chopping. Word, isn't it So much to do. If you had a good night's sleep, you bear
the handle the day much better, but the leanings got to be very high thread count. Ok, the linen will be a fact. I know that you favour vintage linen yourself. You have been known to scour the internet, I run aground. I have monogrammed vintage linen, but yeah and a really good hungarian goose down. Do they and pillows upon it? You ve also got to choose one disk to save from the waves before we send you off to your island leslie, which would you rush to rescue, I think, because of its size, thickens when I was a kid and for the family, it would have to be over the rainbow leslie Manville thank- very much for letting us here. Your does island. Thank you. Lauren! It's been quite cathartic.
hello, is lovely to judge leslie and which is very happy on wine and without luxurious bet, public and a good night's sleep. There are more than One thousand pilgrims in our archive, which you can listen to including the time princess margaret shared her eight music choices with Roy plumlee. You can find princess margaret only discs, if you search through me, See sounds all on our own does this website. The studio manager for today's programme was jackie, marjoram, the assistant producer, tim banjo and the producer. Sarah taylor join me time when my castaway stated David Sedaris?
Transcript generated on 2023-03-06.