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Acorn Antiques The Musical

And so her profile was maintained, her popularity gradually increased. On TV she'd mix it up, reuniting with Ken Campbell for Unfair Exchanges, play Adrian Mole's mother in Sue Townsend's hit show, and experiment with Pinter alongside Joan Plowright and Pinter himself in the Birthday Party. She'd also hook up with Victoria Wood for the series As Seen On TV, part of which was the ongoing
soap spoof Acorn Antiques (Walters would be BAFTA-nominated again for her efforts), and with Alan Bennett (with whom she'd earlier appeared in hospital drama Intensive Care) for Talking Heads, a much-lauded series of monologues that would see Walters as a small-time glamour girl finally given a big break.

On the Silver Screen she'd provide the voice of a Jim Henson-created dormouse in Dreamchild, which examined the life of Alice Hargreaves, inspiration for Lewis Carroll's most famous work. Then there'd be the comic Car Trouble, where she'd again star with Ian Charleson, Charleson this time being in mid-life crisis and buying a Jag while Walters, his wife, prefers the man who sold it to him. Next she'd put in a cameo as the mother of Gary Oldman's Joe Orton in Prick Up Your Ears, again written by Alan Bennett, and then would come Personal Services (writen by David Leland, who'd spotted and boosted her and Victoria Wood years before), the true-life story of Cynthia Payne, a waitress- turned-madam who provided kinky thrills for repressed middle-class Englishmen, a role that gave Walters yet another BAFTA nomination. In Buster, she'd be another doting but suffering wife, this time that of Phil Collins' Buster Edwards, a loveable crook on the run after the Great Train Robbery. And there'd be more black comedy with Killing Dad where she'd play the aging but glitzy girlfriend of a drunken Denholm Elliott, their relationship being complicated when Elliott's son, Richard E.Grant, turns up in their sleepy seaside town aiming to take his father's life. A higher-budget affair would be Mack The Knife, an ambitious take on The Threepenny pera where crime overlord Richard Harris took on Raul Julia's titular young turk, Walters playing Harris's wife and old mucker Bill Nighy the cop who must set Julia up.

The 1980s would also see more stage success. In 1985, she'd appear alongside Bernard Hill's Macbeth at Leicester's Haymarket and, at the end of the next year, she'd take the lead in When I Was A Girl I Used To Scream And Shout at the Whitehall Theatre. This was the first play by Sharman Macdonald, who'd been told by her actor husband that they couldn't afford to have another child unless she managed to sell a play. This was the one, and the child that came from it would be Koira Knightley. Walters' last stage appearance of the decade would be in 1989's Frankie And Johnny At The Clair De Lune, where she'd play a down-at-heel waitress in a sweet romance with Brian Cox's cook. The play would become a movie two years later, with Al Pacino and Michelle Pheipher taking the leads.


That same year, 1991, Walters would make her first and only stage appearance of the 1990s, starring in Peter Hall's production of The Rose Tattoo, first at Bath's Theatre Royal, then at London's Playhouse Theatre. Here she'd be Serafina, mourning her dead truck driver husband, then comically coming alive as another trucker, Ken Stott, comes onto the scene.


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