Not surprised to see the indomitable Maureen Lipman, who was 74 this month, taking part recently in an online cookalong project to cook something delicious for a neighbour or friend in need. Maureen, who is due to start filming more episodes of Coronation Street in June, made a nutritious bean and barley soup in the small kitchen of her home in Paddington. The kitchen looked perfectly adequate but it brought back memories of the much larger kitchen of the family home where she lived with her late husband, the playwright Jack Rosenthal, and two children, Amy and Adam. The house had a large garden, at the bottom of which stood a red telephone box, which was presented to Maureen when she was appearing as Beatie in the British Telecom adverts.
Maureen’s kitchen in that house was her pride and joy. I went there to do a big article and photoshoot about said kitchen, which was painted in sunny yellow with blue painted cupboards and the latest in worktops. It was a full-on day. Maureen and Jack were due to go to a wedding later, but like the true pro she is, Maureen didn’t let that faze her.
Jack, and Maureen’s mother Zelma, however, were a different matter. Both kept wandering in; Jack to enquire the whereabout s of different of items of clothing (a shoe lace broke, causing a major problem), while Zelma – a lovely lady whose mission in life seemed to be making sure everyone was fed – appeared at intervals to offer sustenance.
I still remember one particular shot with Maureen perched atop her kitchen counter with a red rose between her teeth! Not your traditional kitchen photo, but that’s Maureen. I have interviewed her several times over the years and she is one of the spunkiest people I have ever met, going on stage many years ago in a demanding play after major spinal surgery, and in 1998 taking on the challenge of learning some fast dance routines as Aunt Eller in the musical Oklahoma!