Child actor, sitcom favourite and soap star – now Pauline Quirke‘s bringing her expertise to York by opening her performing arts academy here. She talks to YorkMix about an amazing career
When did the acting bug bite?
My drama teacher opened a drama club after school and the English teacher opened a country dancing club, as I had a wart on my hand at the time I chose the acting club (just as well I think).
What support was there for you as a child who wanted to act?
My mum was my biggest fan and influence on my life, she paid the 10p for me to go to the club however if it was drama club or gas meter – the gas meter won!
What were the best and worst things about being a child actor?
Best – you learn a lot of new experiences that school mates don’t get a chance to. Worst – you grow up too fast!
How did you go about creating such a memorable character as Sharon in Birds Of A Feather?
That’s down to the writers, but you read the script and just go with it. For instance, none would notice but I actually walk different when playing Sharon.
What do you consider your greatest performance to date?
Singing Rule Britannia with Lesley Garrett whilst nine months pregnant in front of 5,000 loyal opera fans at Kenwood House.
How did you enjoy your performance in Birds Of A Feather at the Grand Opera House?
It was a final week of a 14-week tour, so it obviously has special memories as I doubt I will ever tour again.
Do you know York well?
This was my first visit, but as Arnie says “I will be back” – probably in the winter though when it’s a bit quieter.
Was Emmerdale, with its relentless filming schedule, a tough gig?
To be honest it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever done. Being part of a bigger picture and not the lead has its comforts plus the people are just wonderful. If it wasn’t 400 miles from home I may well be still doing it.
What inspired you to set up the Pauline Quirke Academy For The Performing Arts?
I read a survey somewhere that 85 per cent of children want to be famous. I thought this was sad as fame should only be a bi-product of being successful and not the goal. This, along with not finding a suitable school for my son Charlie, kicked it all off. We were only going to open the one but people kept coming to us tom open more so as long as the right person comes along I guess we’ll keep doing it.
What can York children expect if they enrol?
A weekend performing arts school for four to 18-year-olds. PQA’s core modules in Comedy and Drama, Musical Theatre and Film and Television, teach a comprehensive range of skills, which are useful for everyday life, not just a career in the performing arts, whilst masterclasses allow students to experience more specialist lessons in areas like stage combat, beat boxing and street dance.
PQA believe in rewarding and inspiring their students, so along with regular reports to monitor their progress, all students are offered group exams through Trinity College London at no additional charge to parents.
As well as many in-house productions and showcases, the students also get the chance to see their short film projects on the big screen of their local cinema. Some of these films even get selected for the Empire Cinema / PQA Film Festival screened at the Empire Leicester Square and also the chance to perform at Her Majesty’s Theatre – home of The Phantom of the Opera – where academies join together to perform in our show Fright Night.
- PQA York will open at Huntington School on October 5, 2013. Classes run on Saturday mornings from 9.45am
- For more information and to enrol, go to the PQA website