Sally Thomsett

Sally Thomsett
Sally Thomsett

Sally Thomsett was born in 1950 in Sussex.   She will be best remembered for her key role in “The Railway Children” in 1970.   She was also featured the following year in “Straw Dogs”.   Between 1973 and 1976 she starred in “Man About the House”.

Interview on the making of “The Railway Children” with Anne Tims:

I was 20 when I was cast as Phyllis, and the director called me back at least four times to be sure I looked young enough. My contract forbade me to reveal my age; I was not allowed to be seen with my boyfriend, to drink in public or drive the sports cars that were my passion. I’d always played girls, so acting 11 was no particular challenge; the Edwardian smocks usefully concealed any bust line.

Even the film crew didn’t know how old I was and treated me as a kid, which was frustrating. They’d ask Jenny how she thought a take had gone, even though she was three years younger than me, and they’d give me sweets. But actually Jenny was as motherly as the character she played and looked after me. I’ve always had a childish side. Bernard Cribbins liked to go fishing, and I’d creep up on him and say, “Boo!”

They put us all in a remote hotel near Haworth in north Yorkshire so we couldn’t stray into any nightclubs. One evening I got fed up and dragged a reluctant Jenny along for a night out in Leeds. We crept out of a back door and went to a club where a girl was dancing in a bird cage, and sitting on a mezzanine above us we saw Lionel Jeffries and the producerRobert Lynn dropping sixpences on her head.

The scariest scene to shoot was the landslide, which took a whole day to set up. There were explosives hidden in the trees, and I was petrified. After the film was released, Lionel rang to congratulate me on being nominated for a Bafta. I didn’t believe him because he was a joker. We thought it was a little film for kids: we had absolutely no premonition of the success it would have.

The above 2013 “Guardian” interview can also be accessed online here.

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