Memories give show special meaning

Press, 10 December 1984, Page 11

“Country G.P” has a special meaning for a regular cast member, Alice Fraser. The New Zealand drama is set in the period in which her grandfather, Peter Fraser, was Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Alice Fraser, who plays Norah-Alice Pratley in “Country G.P.,” lived with her grandfather when she was a child, because her father was a sailor. She says she adored him and it was he who passed his great love of theatre to her. “I did amateur theatre as a child, with much encouragement from him and my mother.” When she was 15 her mother took her to England and she spent 2 1/2 years at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. From there she got work in repertory theatre in Britain, and then continued working her way up the acting ladder.

Highlights of a successful 25 years as an actress in Britain include time spent working at Bristol Old Vic with the likes of Peter O’Toole, Paul Eddington and Felicity Kendall; work with

the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and playing the lead role of Molly in the twenty-first year of “The Mousetrap” in the West End. British television programmes she appeared in include “Z Cars,” “The Avengers,” ‘“Crossroads” and “Armchair Theatre.” She returned to New Zealand in 1977 and spent much of • the next three years playing the publican, Lorraine, in the long-running serial “Close to Home.” her other New Zealand television credits include “Mortimer’s Patch” and “Loose Enz” plays. In theatre, she has appeared in “Shotgun Wedding,” “Hunting” and “Gin Game” at Circa; “Wings” and "Noises Off’ at Downstage; and “Ghosts” at Centrepoint.

When “Country G.P.” ends next year, Alice Fraser has work lined up at Downstage Theatre in Wellington, as well as some radio drama to do.

In “Close to Home” Lorraine was a very glamorous character, but to play No-rah-Alice in “Country G.P.” Alice Fraser has to be “made down” somewhat. But she says she does not care how she has to be turned out for television. The costuming helps her get into the character she is playing. “In real-life, I’m probably somewhere between Lorraine and Norah-Alice — just an ordinary woman, neither glamorous nor plain.”

She says she is nothing at all like Norah-Alice but she likes her part and is enjoying her work on “Country G.P.” Her screen husband, Michael Haigh, who plays Bert Pratley, is marvellous — “we get on terribly well.”

“Norah-Alice is very happy to have found the correct niche in life. Her relationship with her husband — though it appears difficult to outsiders — is well-balanced for them. In real life, I think that’s important.”