The absolute greatness that is Penelope Keith


LONDON, July 17, 2010 – Yesterday was one of the highlights of the trip this time. As you read in yesterday’s post, we started the day off by interviewing Roger Lloyd Pack from The Vicar of Dibley and The Old Guys. What a genuinely nice individual.

Penelope Keith at the Brooklands

After that, we ventured to the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey, the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation. What a cool place with everything from a Sopwith Camel (Tommy Sopwith actually learned to fly here) to a British Airways Concorde (more of the Concorde was built at Brooklands than any other site). Set in the hills surrounded by what’s left of the racetrack built in 1907, Brooklands was also the primary site for the building of the Wellington bomber aircraft in the early 1940’s.

Penelope recalls Good Neighbors and To the Manor Born

Why Brooklands, you may ask? Well, we interviewed Penelope, whom you have known for a lifetime as both Margo Ledbetter in The Good Neighbors and Audrey fforbes-Hamilton from To the Manor Born, here as she is a trustee and board member at Brooklands. She truly is one of the greats of British comedy. For the better part of an hour, Penelope shared her thoughts on what makes a good comedy script and insights on both the Margo and Audrey characters.

Penelope also discussed in great length the back and forth that took place between the actors and writers of both series. In particular, she mentioned several “subtle” changes that were made in the four leads from The Good Neighbors (Good Life in the UK) solely due to the incredible talents of the writing team of Bob Larbey and John Esmonde. Both would listen and observe very intently to rehearsals and read-through’s and incorporate what they observed about what the actors were bringing to the table with respect to their characters in future episodes.

Up next in our continuing interviews for the upcoming PBS special on the writers of British comedy — Dawn French.