Island Life Magazine Ltd October/November 2011 - Page 34

INTERVIEW Celia shapes up as a shining star Exclusive interview by Peter White It must come as a blessing to her many thousands of adoring fans that when Celia Imrie was just 11 years of age she was told she was the wrong shape. Had she been the right shape, she would almost certainly have pursued a career as a ballet dancer. Instead audiences worldwide have subsequently been treated to the delights and sheer brilliance of one of our greatest acting talents. Whether it’s on stage, silver screen or television Celia is synonymous with some of the best comedy series and films ever made – everything from ‘Acorn Antiques’ to ‘Darling Buds of May’ and of course Calendar Girls. But she is equally at home with drama, appearing in countless films and stage productions, the names of which could easily fill twice the space she allowed for her autobiography ‘The Happy Hoofer’ which is due out shortly in paperback following a highly successful hardback launch last year. Celia has a long association with the Isle of Wight, buying her first house here more than 20 years ago to help escape the pressures of working in London and beyond constantly in the public gaze. She returns to Cowes as often as she can, and has become an integral part of the town’s community. She is a passionate supporter of the Cowes RNLI, and is patron of the new Lifeboat Station appeal. She is also a regular visitor to the Island Sailing Club, an enthusiastic cyclist to Watersedge café at Gurnard and always likes to marvel her favourite ‘That Shop’ owned by Nigel Bruce, a close friend for many years. Celia said: “Coming to the Island is a wonderful escape. I don’t call it a holiday home, because I don’t go in for holidays too much. My house here long while ago when I visited my best friend’s mother in Bonchurch. Everyone has a childhood memory of the Island, and I vividly remember when I was about five making a very hurried ferry trip with my mother, that turned out quite shambolic but extremely exciting. “I always wanted to live by the sea, but if I had gone to Brighton, which was nearer, it would have been like living in an Equity meeting because so many actors live there, and that wasn’t quite the escape I was looking for. There is something marvellous about that stretch of water between the Island and the mainland, the wonderful moment when the ‘bing-bong’ goes on the ferry and you immediately relax. I never get back here enough, you only have to look around to realise it is breathtaking.” Celia was born and brought up in Guildford, but is fiercely proud of her Scottish connections. Her father David came from Glasgow. She is renowned for her silky-smooth voice, flirtatious smile – off camera as well as on it – and her ability to slot into any role as if it was tailor-made for her. But in fact becoming an actor never really entered her head as a youngster 'I fell in love with the Island a long while ago when I visited my best friend's mother in Bonchurch' 34 was the first time I had ever bought, a little workman’s cottage, I was terribly proud of it. I am not a great DIY person, but I slept on the bare floor boards while I took the old fireplace out, did all the wallpapering, painted the garden, and bought items at the wonderfully tempting Island Auction Rooms at Shanklin to furnish it.” Since then Celia has moved to another house in Cowes, and revealed: “I fell in love with the Island a