I have been aiming to add some more interesting West End Characters to the website for quite some time and particularly keen to include more women in this section. Thus I was delighted to meet up with Juliet Cadzow for a coffee and a chat at the Atrium in Cresswell Street. Fresh from her phenomenal success in the role of Edie McCredie, driver of the nursery school bus, in Balamory (Scotlands most successful childrens television programme), Juliet is enjoying having more time to meet up with friends and become involved in A Play, a Pie and a Pint at OranMor - the popular lunchtime theatre is produced by her husband David MacLennan. Currently Juliet is having a great time preparing to perform in the play 'Tequila Sunset', written by her sister-in-law Liz MacLennan (30th October, at The Venue, OranMor)
When I met Juliet on a sunny September afternoon, she looked very relaxed and decidely more glamourous without her blue driver's uniform - and no daisy bus in sight. After the gruelling schedule involved in the making of the BAFTA winning Balamory, with around 8 episodes a fortnight shot over a three year period, she is enjoying life at a more leisurely pace.
Despite the hard work Balamory was 'great fun' and its cult status made the main charcters, like Edie McCredie, instantly recognisable. Local children are thrilled when they spot Juliet in the West End and my street cred is going to go up when the six year old in our family hears that I've had coffee with Edie.
Although this role has significantly raised Juliet's profile, prior to working on Balamory she has enjoyed a long, busy and very varied acting career, performing in television, film and theatre. The idea of the 'resting' actor does not seem to apply to Juliet, who even managed to fit in some part-time study a couple of years back, gaining a B.A. degree from Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh. She seems to be a person, who when she sets her mind on something it comes to be.
As a child she decided that she wanted to act and explains that she was influenced by her flamboyant relatives, Alistair McIntyre, actor and broadcaster and her aunt, the actress, Marjorie Morris. These two made quite an impression on Juliet when they visited her family home at their home in a farm in Broxburn, West Lothian. (I was interested to learn that this small place also gave birth to two other stars - Michael Caton Jones, the film maker and Bill Torrance, television and radio presenter). Juliet went on to study acting at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, although she lived in Edinburgh.
However, for many years now she has been firmly ensconced in the West End, in the lovely Park area of the city. I very much enjoyed hearing about how she came to live there with David and their teenage son: When performing in 'The Trial of Madeleine Smith', Juliet first became familiar with the area - and was not put off by its notoriety in connection with the murder of Madeleine's lover. On the contrary she thought that Park would be a lovely place to live - then when filming Guy McCrones "The Wax Fruit" with Cliff Hanley, she found herself looking up from Kelvingrove and thinking: 'it would be lovely to live up there'.
She had her eye on a particular flat and even went so far as to write and ask the people in the block if they could inform her if they were ever thinking of selling, however, there was no response. She could not believe her luck when some years later the flat came up for sale and Juliet and David were successful in purchasing the property.
This type of focus and luck seems to characterize her career, where she has had many opportunities to display her versatility working in both drama and comedy. Like many other Scottish actors her name has cropped up in television roles in programmes such as Taggart, Hamish McBeth, Rab C. Nesbitt and even Take the High Road. She has made many friends along the way and fondly remembers the great comedian Rikki Fulton and the 'tremendous fun' she had working with him, Gregor Fisher and Tony Roper in everyones favourite New Year show 'Scotch and Wry'.
Writing in Times Online Anna Burnside points out that:
Her first professional engagement was with Billy Connolly, in 'The Great Northern Welly Boot Show', and she has performed everywhere from the tiniest community centre to Edinburghs Festival Theatre..
In the article Anna Burnside goes on to say that when Balamory was performed live on stage Juliet found herself playing 'in venues that rock bands have difficulty selling out'.
Apart from working in live theatre and television Juliet has had parts in a number of films and she met up with Billy Connolly again in 1990 when she had a role in William McIlvenny's 'The Big Man'. In 2000 she worked on the film 'Beautiful Creatures' and also played Queen Paloma in Ian Sellar's movie 'Venus Peter' and had a part in 'Heavenly Pursuits' performing alongside Helen Mirren, Tom Conti and David Hayman. Juliet was nominated for a BAFTA for Marc Evan's 'Thicker than Water.
She has played many interesting parts and enjoyed performing as Miss Jean Brodie at the Edinburgh, Lyceum. Juliet also starred in 'Female Parts' by Dario Fo, in the one woman show - initially at The Tron, then on tour. Juliet describes this experience as one which she found 'quite frightening', albeit that the show went'fabulously well'.
She has also worked at the Edinburgh Festival including in the show 'Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaites, which played at The Assemby Hall and then in Warsaw. Juliet has a thorough knowledge of theatre and despite the large number of productions she has been involved in, her recollection, is marvellous. I enoyed all the interesting snippets of information she included in her conversation and was intrigued to learn that this play was originally written for James 5th and was adapted by Robert Kemp.
She has had many exciting times - some are 'unforgettable' such as during the filming of 'Wonderland', which was shot in a military zone in Egypt. 'A frightening experience as bullets were flying around'. This film won a silver medal at the Venice Film Festival. She has had the opportunity to travel and particularly enjoyed working in Italy, in Rome and Siciliy. However, some of her most vivid memories relate to experiences closer to home.
One wonderful production, which Juliet remembers well was 'Border Warfare' by John McGrath, where she played a number of roles including Elizabeth 1st, Bodicea and Wallace's partner Murron MacClannough. What Juliet loved was the sheer scale of this epic theatre - "everything was big". A point she illustrated by explaining that "you even had to climb up a ladder to get onto the huge horses". Her deep blue sparkly eyes sparkled even more as she recalled the drama of "rushing through the crowds high up on horseback".
She was equally enthusiastic about the impact of promenade productions she participated in such as: 'The Big Picnic' and 'The Ship'. The latter production took place at 'The Shed' and "it was amazing" with welders, caulkers and rivetters from the ship yards on the River Clyde walking around as the actors performed. The show was highly dramatic and again on a big scale culminating in the launching of a ship.
As Juliet recalls her experiences she seems to relive them over again and despite a career of more than 30 years she is refreshingly enthusiastic about her life as an actor. Little wonder she was so successful in her role as Edie McCredie - passionate in telling of her exciting travelling experiences.
Watch out for Juliet in Tequila Sunset - 30th October, 2006.