Singer Elaine Paige says playing a pot-smoking marriage wrecker in new BBC drama Life is easy… because she was one!
- The star plays a dope smoking woman who had an affair with a married man
- Ms Paige had a well-publicised 11-year affair with married lyricist Sir Tim Rice
- The role reminded her of when she was in the cast of Hair and smoking joints
She is the revered first lady of musical theatre and a family favourite on Radio 2.
So it might come as a surprise not only to learn that, at 72, Elaine Paige has a new TV role as a drug-taking mistress – but also that she has first-hand experience which she can draw upon.
The star has been cast as Helen in the hit BBC1 drama Life – a woman who had an affair with a married man and who will be seen smoking dope in a forthcoming episode.
Ms Paige said she was definitely able to call upon her real-life experience for her character Helen in the dope smoking scene
Ms Paige had a well-publicised 11-year affair with married lyricist Sir Tim Rice, but now she has told The Mail on Sunday how the scene in which she lights a marijuana joint in the new series also brought back memories of her time making her West End debut with hippy musical Hair in 1968.
‘It reminded me of my time when I was in the cast of Hair and smoking joints on the roof of the Shaftesbury Theatre,’ she said.
‘You could say I was definitely able to call upon my real-life experience for this character.’
In the dope-smoking scene, which will air later this month, Helen asks her former lover Henry, played by former Dr Who star Peter Davison, to join her in what she calls ‘breakfast’, adding: ‘If anyone asks, it’s medicinal.’
Elaine has a laugh with married lover Tim Rice in 1978 whom she had a well-publicised 11-year affair with
Ms Paige said the scene ‘made me laugh so much’ because of the happy memories it brought back – but admitted her recollections of being ‘the other woman’ were less happy.
‘I know what it is to be in that situation and it is a difficult one,’ she said. ‘I am sure there are plenty of people out there who can identify with that.’
In 1990, Sir Tim separated from his wife Jane because of his affair with Ms Paige, although the divorce was never formally finalised.
‘He was extremely married at the time,’ Ms Paige later recalled.
Ms Paige said the scene in which she lights a marijuana joint in the new series also brought back memories of her time making her West End debut with hippy musical Hair (pictured: original musical cast) in 1968
The actress became a star in Evita in 1978, which Sir Tim wrote with Andrew Lloyd Webber, and her other West End credits include Cats, Chess and Sunset Boulevard.
With a career that spans more than 50 years, Ms Paige now reflects: ‘Ageing is not something that I particularly relish exactly, but on the other hand if I am in good health, which I am, I have to admit I don’t really think about it too much.
‘I have had Botox and I openly admit it. If I look good and feel good about the way I look, then I am a happier person.
Hippy days are here again: Actress Ms Paige rolls, then smokes, a marijuana joint in the BBC drama Life – and says it brought back happy memories of her time in the 1960s
‘Better to be around someone who is happy and joyful than a misery guts looking 104. I think each person to their own. It’s what floats your boat, really. If it makes you feel better and you want to have something done, then go for it.’
Set in Manchester, Life follows a group of characters who live in a large house that has been divided into four flats. Other cast members include Gavin & Stacey actress Alison Steadman and The Crown’s Victoria Hamilton.
The six-part series was written by Mike Bartlett, creator of the award-winning Doctor Foster.