Liz Crowther as Sonia discovers a vital
piece of evidence in "WHERE WAS I?"
Liz Crowther's biography from the Ludlow Festival production of 'Twelfth Night' from
1988, courtesy of STEPHEN GRIFFITHS

Friendly, efficient, fond of odd, oversized early 1980s spectacles and quick off the mark
with sandwiches and cups of tea to comfort those about to leap off the roof of Radio
West, Sonia, the station's secretary epitomised the human face of Don Satchley's
organisation, the first port of call for any visitor. Appearing in every episode of
Shoestring, Sonia's role varied from desk-bound scenes to larger parts, as in
"Mocking Bird" and "Listen to Me" (those sandwiches and tea again). Even in short
appearances within an episode, Sonia shone: on screen for a few seconds, Liz
Crowther would add depth to a potentially unremarkable scene by including quirky
character incidents - as subtle as a wry face pulled in the background at a typing error.
During a recent run at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, Liz Crowther took some time to
remember memories of her early career and the time spent on Shoestring...
Dene and Nick: Were you surprised in any way by seeing yourself in "Shoestring",
when the series was repeated in January 2002 - and what was your reaction to the
style of the show itself?
Liz Crowther: "I was staggered how high and posh my voice sounded, apart from the
fact that I was so young. I can't really be objective enough to know if it stood up
dramatically - I think it did."
DK/ NS: How did you come to be cast in the role of Sonia - was it through an
audition or were you spotted by a member of the production team?
LC: "I was doing the first Vaclav Havel play (yes, by the president of the Czech
republic - or is he ex-president now?) in Britain at the Orange Tree Theatre,
Richmond when I was chosen to play Sonia. I played a secretary in 'The
Memorandum' and had to learn to touch type a passage perfectly as the theatre
was in the round and people could see over your shoulder. I think that's what got me
the part - that and my rather striking hair."
DK/NS: Do any memories of the production of the series spring to mind?
LC: "I filmed nearly all my bits at the old BBC Ealing Film Studios (where they filmed
"The Cruel Sea" and I think "Passport to Pimlico") and only occasionally went on
location to Bristol so I did feel reasonably detached from the rest of the cast, though
Doran Godwin and I were always great pals. I've seen Trevor and Michael since and
probably spoken to them a lot more than in 1979. I was terribly shy then. I often meet
up with old crew members on different jobs."
DK/NS: What effect did working on "Shoestring" have on you, as an actress.
LC: "'Shoestring' did make a difference to my career and I'm sure I set a trend for the
plump receptionist (see Bergerac, Casualty, etc). I learnt a lot as it was on film and
so much slower and more carefully done than the slapdash routine of these days.
One also had more input artistically. I'm doing loads of theatre but still remember it
with love."
DK/NS: Ms. Crowther, thanks for sharing your thoughts on your career, and the
role of Sonia.