It is with some bemusement that I see myself described as a child star in newspapers. I only appeared in two feature films before I grew too tall to do more. It was the little girl here seen eating ice-cream in a pink dress, when she appeared as a film extra in Swallows & Amazons, who became a much brighter starlet than I.
My sister Tamzin enchanted directors who cast her in one role after another. Her career started in 1972 when she was given the lead role of Elka in an episode of Arthur of the Britons opposite Oliver Tobias who played King Arthur. He later introduced her as his co-star. By this time he was known as The Stud, having starred opposite Joan Collins in the movie of her sister Jackie Collins’ racy novel.
No one asked Tamzin if she could ride. It was a good thing that she could as she was soon cantering up and down the hills on a massive horse, whilst clutching that medieval doll. You can watch a bit on Youtube. Arthur of the Britons had the most prestigious cast: Brian Blessed, Martin Jarvis, Tom Baker, Catherine Schell, Iain Cuthbertson, Peter Firth, Heather Wright, Michael Gambon and Peter Bowles all appeared in the drama series, some of which was filmed on my parents’ farm. I remember Jack Watson leaping down the bank above our house. Tamzin played most of her scenes opposite Michael Gothard, who became famous for playing the villain Locque in the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only.
Tamzin was then cast as Anthea in the 1976 BBC adaptation of of E Nesbit’s classic story The Phoenix and the Carpet. I’ve just read that it was a story much admired by Arthur Ransome.
While Mum enjoyed playing the part of Mother, Tamzin’s brother Cyril was played by Gary Russell, who after appearing as Dick in the BBC series of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five, grew up to become a writer and script editor on Doctor Who. I last saw him at a book launch at the Imperial War Museum.
Here he is with Tamzin in the 1970s:
As she was used to appearing on television, Tamzin wrote in to Blue Peter and soon appeared on the show. She was also featured on Animal Magic and a number of other magazine programmes.
Tamzin soon had another lead role, that of the young Linda in the ITV production of Nancy Mitford’s semi-autobiographical novel Love in a Cold Climate. While Judi Dench and Michael Aldridge starred as her parents, her brother Matt was played by Max Harris who had the role of her brother Robert in The Phoenix and the Carpet. Tamzin can been seen on the trailer wearing a red dressing-gown in the Hons’ cupboard, looking dreamy in a tam o’shanter and jumping a white Arab over a Cotswold stone wall, whilst riding side-saddle.
She went on to take leading roles in episodes of A Play for Today, Crown Court and Screen Two. Ironically she was expelled from Drama College after Mum persuaded her to work professionally one summer vacation. At that, she tossed her head and went on to occupy time more gainfully.
She won’t believe me, but Tamzin is a most amusing writer. You can see for yourself. Her letters are featured in Ride the Wings of Morning.