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Audrey Hepburn: A Film Bluffers Guide



Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My Fair Lady, erm…

Audrey Hepburn is famous for her outstanding beauty, charm and elegance – whether she’s playing a cockney flower-seller or a European princess. However, what if you only know her through seeing her image and haven’t actually seen any of her movies?

Here then is a bluffer’s guide to the screen career of the one and only Ms Hepburn, plus some trivia points to get you by at dinner parties or even during visits to famous New York department stores.

Audrey Hepburn Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday (1953)
Princess Ann – no, not that one – tired of her regal duties, runs away to – yes, you’ve guessed it, Rome. Once there she befriends an American (Gregory Peck) not knowing he is in fact a hack, ill-bent on securing a story. The daughter of a Dutch Baroness, Audrey Hepburn was ideal casting for the part of a runaway princess in the film Roman Holiday. Similarly her early work as a model stood her in good stead for the part of a reluctant clothes horse in Funny Face.

My Fair Lady (1964)
Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison) makes a bet that he can pass a poor flower girl off as a member of high society. Hepburn wasn’t the first choice for the role of Eliza Doolittle. Top of the list was stage Eliza, Julie Andrews, but her lack of film clout meant she wasn’t offered the part. The fact that Hepburn’s singing was later re-dubbed – by Marni Nixon – may have offered Andrews a touch of cold comfort.

Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffanys

Breakfast at Tiffanys

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Socialite and escort, Holly Golightly is looking for a rich husband but falls for a writer and kept man (whom she calls ‘Fred’) who moves into her New York apartment block. Hepburn is probably one of the Silver Screens most famous cat owners, thanks to her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but off screen she was more of a dog person and owned a Yorkshire terrier called Mr Famous. The pooch appeared with her in a scene in Funny Face.

Funny Face (1957)
The worlds of Gershwin and Givenchy collide in this story of a wannabe beatnik who agrees to turn model in order to fund her Paris travels and mix with her idols. Hepburn was much more fortunate with this foray into musicals – it’s actually her voice you hear during the show’s musical numbers. She may have regretted taking on the role, however, as it meant turning down Gigi – which was a much bigger hit.

Audrey Hepburn Sabrina


Sabrina (1954)
The daughter of a chauffeur falls in love with a rich playboy, when really it’s his shy older brother, Linus, who would be a better love match. Sabrina was remade in 1995 with Julia Ormond in the lead role (opposite Harrison Ford as Linus). As with the original the actress wasn’t the most popular choice for the role. In the original, co-star Humphrey Bogart campaigned for his wife Lauren Bacall to be cast. In the remake Winona Ryder was approached first.

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
A shy, retiring bank clerk is persuaded to help in a heist involving melting down bullion and smuggling it out in the form of mini Eiffel Towers.  “Audrey Hepburn in the same film as Sid James, you’ve got to be having a laugh!” Well no, actually we’re not, but we’ll forgive you for not knowing Hepburn was in this one. The story goes that Alec Guinness spotted her on the stage and offered her a role. Unfortunately, commitments meant she could only film the blink-and-you-miss-it part of Chiquita.

Robin and Marian (1976)
Have you ever thought what happened when Robin Hood and his missus got old? No, us neither, but Hollywood did and this was the result. Sean Connery wasn’t the first choice for the role of Robin. Producers wanted Albert Finney to play the role.

Charade (1963)
Regina (Hepburn) discovers her soon-to-be ex is now definitely her ex – as he’s been murdered. But where has all his money gone? Cary Grant rejected the role of Peter when it was first offered to him and he wasn’t happy with the age gap between him and his co-star. He must have changed his mind though, as he is quoted as saying after filming “All I want for Christmas is to make another movie with Audrey Hepburn.”

Audrey Hepburn A Nun's Story

A Nun’s Story

A Nun’s Story (1959)
A nun falls in love against the back drop of World War II, except this time she doesn’t have a stack of singing kids to contend with. Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Sister Luke, but lost out to Simone Signoret, for Room at the Top. She was also nominated for Wait Until Dark, Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but won for Roman Holiday.

Paris – When It Sizzles (1964)
A drunken writer hires a staid secretary (Hepburn) in a last-ditch attempt to hit his deadline, but can she get him to the typewriter in time?  Eagle-eyed viewers will see that some scenes were shot in the same park that was used for Charade.



Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess




Xena Warrior Princess

What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.

Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.

Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.

Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.

Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?

Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.

Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Character: Xena

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Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife




McMillan And Wife

Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.

Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.

And wifey?
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.

Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.

Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.

Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.

What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.

Other characters
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.

Famous guest stars?
Kim Basinger

The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.

Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.

Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.

Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.

The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.

A winner?
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.

Distinguishing features?
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.

Do say
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.

Don’t say
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.

Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.

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Classic TV Revisited: The Royal




The Royal

The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.

The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.

Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.

Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.

Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”

A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.

First broadcast: 2003

Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden

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