Making her screen debut on the cult 1960’s serial drama Dixon of Dock Green, television and theatre actress Vicki Michelle has been entertaining the nation for over half a century becoming one of Britain’s most recognisable TV faces. In 1972 Vicki enjoyed her first brush with the sitcom playing Terry Collier’s (James Bolam) latest brazen girlfriend Madelyn in Clement and Le Frenais’ sitcom revival Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads in an episode entitled The Ant and the Grasshopper which demanded Vicki to perfect her northern eastern accent. The role was a success and Clement and Le Frenais invited her back for the feature length TV movie in 1976.
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By 1978 Vicki was ready to take on her first major television role and auditioned for a part in Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft’s new sci-fi sitcom Goodbye Mrs Noah alongside her sister Ann. Luckily they were both able to secure parts and this gave Vicki her first encounter with the legendary David Croft who would go on to have a dominant influence in her later career. This forward thinking, space themed show was definitely ahead of its time and starred Mollie Sugden as Mrs Gertrude Noah, a 20l50 housewife who wins a cookery competition to have a Britannia Seven, the UK’s new Space Exploration Vehicle. Vicki played the auto self seeking French sounding robot who aids Mrs Noah through her journey. For this she perfected her French accent which would prove vital for an upcoming role just a few years later. Come Back Mrs Noah survived for just one series but Vicki remains extremely proud of the way the show helped to move the sitcom on and has very fond memories of working on such an original show.
Her next sitcom came just four years later when Vicki auditioned for another Croft and Lloyd production. David Croft had already enjoyed huge success with two sitcoms based on his experiences in the Second World War with Dad’s Army and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum but now with Jeremy Lloyd whom he had collaborated with in creating Are You Being Served, he was now ready to take on the French resistance. Knowing firsthand David Croft’s genius as a writer, Vicki felt compelled to audition. Originally going for the part of Michelle of the resistance (who was eventually played by Kirsten Cook), Vicki also accepted the opportunity to read for the character of lustful waitress Yvette Carte-Blanch and the rest is history!
From the outset, both cast and crew of Allo Allo worked to a simple shorthand that the French were randy, the Germans were kinky and the English were stupid.
Therefore Croft, Lloyd nor the cast could ever be accused of xenophobia because they were laughing at everyone and the general misunderstandings between the nations. This, combined with unexplained universal sexual interest in cafe owner Renê Artois added to the farcical aspect of the show and spawned Vicki’s best known catchphrase “ooh, Renè!”. As with most catchphrases, once it became recognised as one, Croft and Lloyd were forced to use it sparingly to prevent it from becoming a cliche. This spawned the seductive throatal sound “ooh” which was enough to give any scene the preferred feeling of sexual desire. The late Gordon Kaye was the perfect linchpin for the sitcom and in his reliable hands Allo Allo became one of Britain’s most successful sitcom exports and nearly forty years later it’s still a staple of TV making Allo Allo one of Vicki’s greatest achievements.
After Allo Allo, Vicki popped up on BBC1’s Saturday night extravaganza Noel’s House Party playing the part of his sexually frustrated neighbour who was deeply in love with Noel whilst everyone else around him thought he was a jumped up lord Of the manor. Such a bizarre concept required an experienced actress to understand the parameters of the fictional world of Crinkley Bottom when everyone else was portraying themselves. It was here that Vicki learned Noel’s incredible flare for comedic ad-lib and was in awe of how he effortlessly kept the live show together with constant mayhem surrounding him. Being a regular didn’t make Vicki exempt from the dreaded Gotcha where she was invited to a restaurant in disguise to determine if celebrities received better treatment than the general public. This resulted in her supposed arrest, where, following her transportation to the local police station under escort, she failed to recognise her arresting officer as an actor from The Bill before finally being presented with her Gotcha by Noel also in disguise as a policeman. She always said that Edmonds would never get her but even a regular like Vicki was able to fall for the convoluted situation dreamed up by Noel. Despite this Noel’s House Party was an absolute dream to be involved with and was a great Saturday night treat right up until the dawn of the new millennium.
As a performer, Vicki has always felt a huge responsibility to use her fame to help to highlight and support good causes. As patron of three national charities; Haven House Children’s Hospice, Essex Women’s Advisory Group and AA Dog Rescue, Vicki has witnessed firsthand the incredible selfless service of remarkable people all over Britain. Her great passion for looking after former servicemen and women has been the driving force behind her involvement in the Bomber Command Appeal who acknowledges former members of the armed forces. To honour these great men and women who fought for our freedom is a great honour and Vicki was immensely proud when the charity was recognised by the Queen. In doing this she was able to befriend a lot of the surviving Bomber Boys and hear their remarkable stories of survival and bravery.
Returning to television in 2007, Vicki fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition to star in a serial drama when she secured the role of matriarch Patricia Foster in ITV’s Emmerdale. Doting mother of Jonny, Patricia arrives to give her blessing to his engagement to Paul. Making a surprise return on Jonny and Paul’s wedding day, she is shocked to discover that the pair have already eloped but decided to properly marry again out of guilt. Unfortunately actors Richard Greive and Matthew Bose announced their departure from the show meaning that Vicki’s portrayal of Patricia would be short lived. Yet Emmerdale was something that Vicki loved and satisfied her long time desire to star in a soap.
Never abandoning her love for the stage, in 2019 Vicki is now on a nationwide tour of the new comedy play Hormonal Housewives and delights in playing a new venue each and every night. Slowly becoming an elder sister of entertainment, she shows no signs of slowing down and has already signed up for a major panto this year. It was a fantastic pleasure to meet and interview the great Vicki Michelle and wish her all the very best of luck with the rest of her remarkable career.