Star quality in People

People coming to Milton Keynes Theatre
People coming to Milton Keynes Theatre

Classical theatre actress Sian Phillips will be taking on a new role when performs in People due to start on Tuesday at Milton Keynes Theatre.

The star appears in The National Theatre’s production of the Alan Bennet play with a cast that also includes Brigit Forsyth, best known for her role in the sitcom Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads.

Speaking to the Daventry Express, Sian said: “I play a woman called Dorothy who lives in this lovely old house but it is crumbling and falling into disrepair.

“My sister, who is played by Brigit Forsyth, wants to hand the estate over to the National Trust and I don’t want to do that.”

And while in one sense the show is a very familiar one for Sian, there is a slightly surprising debut for her.

She said: “What appealed about the part is that it is working for the National Theatre which is an environment I absolutely adore working in and also the play is written by Alan Bennett who I think is one of this country’s finest dramatists.

“I have never ever done an Alan Bennett play, which I am sure may surprise people, but this is a good one to appear in.

“I have worked with Brigit before, we are old friends in that regard, so it is nice to work with her.”

However she has performedat Milton Keynes Theatre and is hoping for a very different experience this time around.

Sian said: “I did a show at Milton Keynes, a two-handed show with Peter Bowles which was a lovely show. However the stage at Milton Keynes is very big and the show was probably too small for it.

“This is a much bigger set, and a very sumptuous one so I think this will probably suit the bigger stage.”

For Sian, who has had a long career in both television and films, she still considers the 1976 BBC drama series I Claudius, which also starred Derek Jacobi, John Hurt and Patrick Stewart, as one of the highlights.

She added: “It was a gorgeously made show and there was lots of wonderful people on it. There were fantastic costumes, and lovely sets. It was a lovely show to do.”

She also played a crucial part in the cult movie Clash of the Titans but it is one that was not an entirely happy experience.

Sian said: “We filmed in Malta and we had lovely weather.

“However, you found yourself acting a lot of the time with nothing there because all the special effects were put on afterwards. I found doing that quite difficult as I prefer things to be there in front of me.”

After our interview, Sian won the best supporting performance award at the National Theatre Awards 2013 for her role in the new musical This Is My Family.

Sian said: “I do particularly enjoy doing the musicals and I am really enjoying this one.

“It is written by Tim Firth who wrote Calendar Girls, and it is very clever script.

“I am also off to Washington to appear in The Importance of Being Earnest .”

People will be performed from Tuesday to Saturday, November 2.

Tickets for the show cost between £15 and £29.50 and can be booked by calling the box office on 0844 871 7652 or visit