Star Interview: Lesley Joseph

Birds of a Feather
Birds of a Feather

Clad in bright, tightly-fitting clothes, with hair teased to a great height and with an eye for a good-looking man, the character of Dorien Green is arguably one of the most popular in sitcom history.

Lesley Joseph took on the character in the late 1980s, as part of the trio making up the central cast of the TV show, Birds Of A Feather, and today she still speaks fondly about the man-eating neighbour of Tracy Stubbs and Sharon Theodopolopoudos... a role she played for nearly 10 years.

Now the Birds Of A Feather story is continuing as a stage show, which is this week being performed at Royal & Derngate in Northampton.

And Lesley is delighted to have returned to her home town of Northampton to appear in the show.

Lesley said: “Comedy parts can become over the top, but although Dorien is extreme in her ridiculous clothes and has ridiculous views on some things, she isn’t just funny, she is moving and vulnerable as well. People loved these characters and now they can follow the story.

“The show was fantastic, all three were iconic characters. The only proviso in us doing it on stage was that the script was good. The first script was awful and that was before the original writers got involved, but then the original writers did come on board.

“Dorien really turned my career around. The programme was innovative in a way that it was about three women and the developing story between these three people. It was funny and moving as well. It was real, not just a sitcom with three lines and then a last line which everyone laughs at.

“People really got involved with their stories. It was a combination of really good scripts and funny situations.”

But how does the TV comedy translate on stage?

Lesley said: “It is good because they haven’t just taken two episodes, but they have moved it on 13 years. Tracey is still living in her house, she has her son, Travis, and it is about her relationship with him.

“Sharon is still struggling and Dorien is in an old people’s home. There are all sorts of things kicking off between the three of them and it really does work.”

And, according to Lesley, there is a strong possibility that ‘Birds’ will make it back on to TV screens in the near future.

She said: “There is a huge chance of it. We have been offered something back on TV and we will know soon if it is more of what we think. We can tell from the numbers of people coming to see the show that people really want to see it back again on TV. People are ready for it.”

Born in London, Lesley grew up in Northampton, was educated at Northampton School for Girls and is still a regular visitor to the town, as president of The Masque Theatre.

“Northampton holds a big place in my heart. I have played in Humble Boy at the Royal and it is a gorgeous theatre. I’m really pleased to be coming back again. I love the theatre quarter, with the Guildhall. I’m proud of Northampton, it is a great town.”

Birds Of A Feather will run until Saturday.