In a glittering career spanning five decades, renowned star of stage and screen Judy Buxton has built an unrivalled reputation as one of Britain’s most versatile and enduring supporting actors. Making her theatrical debut in repertory theatre, touring the country offered the young actress a grounding within her industry which she has continued to hone throughout her career. Yet on television, Judy made her first appearance in the seminal serial drama Dixon Of Dock Green alongside the legendary Jack Warner in 1972 as Anne, the daughter of Paddy O’Connell (not that one) who took her under his wing. O’Connell’s encouragement of young actors was something he built a reputation for and Judy benefited from despite his unconventional techniques involving a large brandy prior to a performance. It would be totally unthinkable for Judy to consume even a drop of alcohol before entering a stage now, but under such guidance, it worked and the rest is history.
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Judy’s next role came in ITV’s medical drama General Hospital which ran for four series between 1972 and 1979. This was her first reoccurring character role on television portraying the part of student nurse Katy Shaw for the first year of its run. A generation before Casualty and Holby City, this was one of the first medical dramas to adhere to the serial drama model of having three or four consecutive storylines going at once. It’s worth noting that during the 1970’s serial drama was still a relatively novel concept and audiences were fascinated by the lure of the dramatic storylines that ensued. Despite being merely in General Hospital for just over a year, it gave Judy a vital taste of domestic drama which she has honed throughout her career.
Beyond her vast television cv, the highlight of Judy’s career came when she enrolled in the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1981 with her first role as Iphigenia in The Greeks at the Aldwych Theatre before securing the prestigious role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and then The Merchant of Venice at the Jessica Theatre. The variety of roles, the quick turnaround of plays and being able to work alongside future acting royalty were all aspects which appealed to Judy as this was where she really cut her teeth as a performer. The language of Shakespeare may sound a little antiquated in today’s cultural landscape but the messages and stories which he conveyed within his work are timeless. Learning a play every three weeks proved absolutely vital to Judy’s career hereafter and she remains extremely grateful for everything that the RSC gave her.
Perhaps the modern form of storytelling is television drama and throughout the seventies and eighties such a genre was surpassed by the popularity of the situation comedy. In 1990 Judy secured arguably another of her career defining roles as the straight talking Ruth Carpenter in Bob Larbey’s social climbing sitcom On The Up alongside the legendary Joan Simms, Dennis Waterman and Sam Kelly. For Judy, it felt refreshing to embody somewhat of a controversial, outspoken and passionate character in Ruth Carpenter as opposed to some of her previous subordinate roles. Ruth was someone who knew exactly what she wanted and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to call her a bitch. However, playing these feisty roles is always fun for an actor as you get to be strong, assertive and creative about the character you’re portraying. This, together with a stellar cast and brilliant scripts made On The Up a joy to work on for Judy.
Still in demand as an accomplished stage actor, Judy Buxton shows no signs of slowing down and her new play After All These Years alongside her real life husband; sitcom legend Jeffrey Holland. Forever proud of her extensive TV heritage, she is also the perfect booking for any TV festival and her anecdotes and insights from a lifetime on the box never fails to lighten any room. So whether it’s captivating a theatre audience with her powerful portrayal of strong women, playing the fool in a situation comedy or pontificating about the glory years of Light Entertainment, it’s reassuring to appreciate that there’s always something natural about her work. It was an absolute pleasure to welcome the great Judy Buxton to Beyond The Title and I await the next chapter of her remarkable career.