Written by Christine Smith
After becoming a grandmother eight months ago, Pauline Quirke reveals how the ‘joyful arrival’ of a baby girl has made her re-evaluate her life.
Readily admitting she is a hard grafter, the Birds of a Feather star says she is now planning to take some time off to recharge her batteries and spend quality time with her new granddaughter, Grace.
It is, she announces, very much time to put work on the back burner.Smiling happily and eyes glowing whenever she refers to Grace, she stresses, however, it’s not just the arrival of her daughter’s baby that has prompted the desire to take a break.
Indeed, the actress has had a gruelling schedule recently, filming the big US drama for Sky One, You, Me and the Apocalypse, with Hollywood actor Rob Lowe, after a second series of Broadchurch and then moving on to shoot another series of Birds of a Feather, with her close friends and co-stars, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph.
“I am definitely taking a back seat this year,” says Pauline (56). “My husband is as well. Not just because of our granddaughter, but because of lots of reasons. I want to start to enjoy more of what we are working for. Yes, it is about balance.”
Still grinning from ear to ear as she talks about becoming a granny for the first time in public after her daughter, Emily, gave birth last year, she adds: “Grace is absolutely gorgeous. Charlie is her middle name. Emily and her brother Charlie are really close, so she named her Grace Charlie.
“She is a beautiful little thing and we’ve actually just been video chatting with my daughter and Grace. I keep telling Emily to go to the cinema so we can have her! I do get babysitting duties but not as many as I’d like. But she is still only tiny. It does bring joy to your life, yes. “She has been on set and everyone has been taking pictures with her.”
Having a granddaughter brings joy to your life
As she chats animatedly about the new addition to the Quirke family, Pauline sounds happy, relaxed and very content.
Money, she says, can’t buy the friendship a woman enjoys with close friends who have been through everything together. And it’s Pauline’s friends on Birds of a Feather that she turns to every step of the way. Birth, death, marriage and now grandchildren; you name it, Pauline, Linda and Lesley have always been there for each other.
“We know as women what amazing friendships we can have,” remarks Pauline. “Me and Linda have known each other all our lives and we’ve known Lesley for 26 years.”
We are chatting on the set of Birds of a Feather over lunch, alongside Lesley (69) and Linda (57) who interject the conversation with plenty of banter and laughter. The three friends are halfway through filming the new series, which will open with a bang when Tracey, played by Linda, finds out Darryl, her ex-husband and the father of her two sons, has died. Yet Birds being Birds, there is also plenty of humour with Dorien, played by Lesley, getting into a lather over one of the funeral guests, Vince, who is played by former EastEnders star Martin Kemp.
“It’s a cracking first episode,” says Pauline, whose son, Charlie, plays Travis, in the comedy drama. “You can’t beat a death to kick it all off! Tracey’s husband does die and she is upset because he was the first love of her life. “We have had so much fun though and we do get told off (because we are laughing together so much) that we have to do retakes!”
Lesley is agreeing with everything Pauline is saying. “The great thing about Birds is we do tackle big issues with humour,” she says. “The show always has done. We like tackling the real-life issues with emotion, humour and warmth.
“Martin is very liked and so good in the show. As you can imagine, Dorien does get into a lather over him and it is a very funny sequence that has to be seen!”
With other big plotlines promised for the series, the ladies remain very proud of a show that has stood the test of time and attracted big-name fans including the Royals.
Indeed on a tour of the ITV studios last autumn, Camilla asked for the Birds of a Feather ladies to specifically be there. “It was such an honour,” says Linda. “We had to move filming by a day to incorporate the visit. We couldn’t believe it when they told us that Birds was top of her list of who she wanted to see.”
“She is such a lovely lady,” adds Pauline. The comedy, they say, will always be their baby.
“It was a hugely life-changing thing,” remarks Lesley. “Other than soaps, I can’t think of another programme like ours with individuals that has been going for so long.”
“Exactly,” adds Linda. “It doesn’t matter what the three of us do. It will always be Birds. You will never get anything like it.”
All three ladies are able to say no to projects now and are very choosey in what they take on. While Pauline plans to take some quality time out with her family this year, Linda is enjoying being back on the Loose Women panel and Lesley will be touring the country with a stage remake of Annie.
“The one thing Birds has done for us is we only do what we want to do,” explains Lesley.
“It is all really great right now for all of us,” agrees Pauline. “If it weren’t for the audience, we wouldn’t be here now. Life is really good and I am looking forward to putting my feet up…!”
- Birds of a Feather is on ITV1 now
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