Anita takes on iconic stage role

MHDE'Anita Dobson and Greta Scachi who will be appearing in Bette and Joan at the Royal and Derngate, Northampton.
MHDE'Anita Dobson and Greta Scachi who will be appearing in Bette and Joan at the Royal and Derngate, Northampton.

FORMER Eastender Anita Dobson swaps Albert Square for a role with Hollywood sparkle as she plays one of America’s greatest actresses.

She plays Joan Crawford in the West End smash hit Bette and Joan. Starring alongside Greta Scacchi playing Bette Davis, it tells the behind the scenes story of the cult 1962 movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. It sees the two stars, who hated working with each other, getting ready and in rehearsal for filming on the movie.

MHDE 'Joan Crawford

MHDE 'Joan Crawford

Anita told the Daventry Express: “I grew up watching the likes of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and watching them was fantastic, seeing all of those black and white movies was wonderful.

“Therefore, when the chance came up to be in this show, I leapt at the chance to be in.”

However she was originally due to play the other half of the double act.

“It was originally written as a one woman show about Bette Davis, and when I came to play the character, I didn’t really have a handle on how to play her, even though I had seen her lots of times,” explained Anita.

“The show then became a two hander and Greta came into to play Bette and I took on the role of Joan and it suddenly clicked.”

And she said there will be plenty of laughs and tragedy in the show.

Anita added: “They had a very tempestuous relationship on the set and there is a lot of bitching between the two and it is very funny.

“But there is a lot of sadness in the show because you realise both of them are worried about getting older.

“I would hope people will come away from the show and laugh but also understand them both better.”

It will be a return to the town for Anita having previously performed on the Derngate stage.

She said: “I have done a pantomime before at Northampton, but I have never performed on the little stage.

“I have heard from lots of people say that is quite an intimate one which will be perfect for this show.”

For many though, Anita, will forever be known as Angie Watts, married to Leslie Grantham’s Dirty Den in Eastenders from the show’s beginning 1985 to 1988 and. It is a part she is still proud of.

Anita said: “I am always very happy to be recognised for Eastenders, I never have a problem talking about it.

“For me, it was a wonderful part and she was a brilliant character to play. It helped to launch my career and I will be forever grateful.”

But younger readers are more likely to recognise her from her appearances on Strictly Come Dancing. She appeared in the most recent series and was eliminated in week nine.

Anita said: “It was a lot of fun doing Strictly, dancing was something I always wanted to learn. There were a lot of really good people and we all got on very well.

“I’ve also been on the Strictly tour which has been a lot of fun.”

However she was keeping quiet about a future project which she promises will be very exciting.

Anita said: “I have just been offered a nice part which I think I am going to say yes to. I don’t want to talk about it in case it doesn’t happen but it’s been nice.

“I have been very busy for the past 18 months and long may it continue.”

Bette and Joan will be on at the Royal and Derngate in Northampton from May 8 to 12. Tickets for the show cost between £9.50 and £25.50and can be booked by calling 01604 624811 or visit