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Tons of Money, King's Theatre, Leven Street

SWELTERING in the blistering heat, actress Lysette Anthony watched as the shoreline of Loch Ness receded into the distance.

Loch Ness maybe, but not the Loch Ness we know, rather Castiac Lake in California, doubling as the home of the legendary monster in the 2001 straight to video release The Evil Beneath Loch Ness, starring Patrick Bergin.

The movie was not exactly Anthony's finest hour and, ahead of her return to Scotland next week, the down to earth 45-year-old can barely control her laughter as she pleads, "Don't even say the title."

Too late.

"Oh no! That is so fantastically bad. The Scottish accents are just hilarious," she says apologetically.

Still laughing she admits, "I had a lot of fun on it but that film was the biggest pile of poo I have ever done. It was shot in about 10 days and you can tell.

"They came over to Scotland to shoot the exteriors but it was hilarious because the lake they used was in California and it was about 200 degrees. We were all passing out with the heat."

And then there were the 'Scottish' accents. "Even Patrick Bergen, who of course is Irish (but that doesn't mean anything to the Americans) found it impossibly difficult.

"My own favourite however was the policeman who had an Australian/American/Scottish accent. It was just brilliant, but they paid me a lot of money... so hurrah."

Anthony returns to Edinburgh next week as the flitatious Jean in Bill Kenwright's all-star production of Alan Ayckbourn's reworking of the 1922 Will Evans and Valentine's Aldwych farce, Tons of Money.

In it, inventor Aubrey Allington has inherited a fortune which, on his death reverts to his cousin George Maitland. As cousin George is thought to have died abroad, Aubrey has the brilliant idea of 'dying' so that he can resurrect himself as his cousin and thus avoid payment off his own enormous debts. But, in the best tradition of farce, complications arise in the form of George's wife, another Maitland impostor (the butler's brother) and finally the real George himself.

"It wasn't a piece I wasn't familiar with as it hasn't been done for a long time," says Anthony, adding, "It's a souffle of a play, a lot more complicated than it seems, but is a lot of fun. Audineces just sit and choke on their laughter, which I suppose is what we need just now."

Joining Anthony on the stage of The King's will be Caroline Langrishe of Judge John Deed fame and All Creatures Great and Small star Christopher Timothy, as well as ex-Blue Peter presenter Mark Curry and Janet Henfrey, best known for her role as the schoolteacher in the Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective.

Completing the cast are Eric Richard alias The Bill's Sergeant Bob Cryer, a role he played for 20 years, Keith Clifford who is best known as Billy in Last Of The Summer Wine and Finty Williams, daughter of Dame Judi Dench and Michael Williams.

"It's great fun because I've never worked with any of these people before and we're all working hard to put on a good show."

Born Lysette Chodzo in Fulham, London, the 45-year-old was the only daughter of actors Michael Anthony and Bernadette Milnes. Her first taste of public recognition came at the age of 16, when photgrapher David Bailey hailed her as the Face of the Eighties, a decade in which she would also feature in numerous music videos including Bryan Adams' Summer of 69 and Rainbow's Street of Dreams.

Although Bailey launched Anthony on a highly successful career as a model, it wasn't long before she followed in the family business, but then acting had always been her dream. Long before she became the face of a generation she had made her first stage appearance at the Cambridge Theatre. She was just 10 at the time.

"That was in my parents' play," she recalls, "but I got packed off to boarding school after that."

Nevertheless, four years later she could be found peforming with the prestigious National Youth Theatre and by 20 was a household name as an actress, partly thanks to being cast as Princess Lyssa in the fantasy blockbuster, Krull.

Today, the mother of one (she has a four-year-old son Jimi, who has juvenile arthritis, a cause Anthony now raises funds to research) is best known for her TV roles, most notably Three Up, Two Down.

"That was about a hundred years ago," she smiles. "What surpises me though, is that it is never in that Top 100 Favourite Sitcoms show, because almost daily people come up and mention it. So I know how popular it is, and that's really lovely."

Tons of Money, King's Theatre, Leven Street, Monday-Saturday, 7.30pm (Wednesday/Saturday matinees 2.30pm), 12.50-25, 0131-529 6000

 
 
 

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