Sue Johnston Bio
Sue Johnston whose birth name is Susan Johnston, OBE is an English actress known for playing Sheila Grant in the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside (1982–1990). She was born on 7 December 1943.
She also played Barbara Royle in the BBC comedy The Royle Family (1998–2012), Grace Foley in the BBC drama Waking the Dead (2000–2011), Gloria Price in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street (2012–2014) and Miss Denker in the ITV drama Downton Abbey (2014–2015). She won the 2000 British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Actress and was nominated for the 2000 BAFTA TV Award for Best Comedy Performance for The Royle Family.
Sue Johnston Age
She is 75 years old as of 2019, having been born on 7 December 1943.
Sue Johnston Weight and Height
She stands tall at a height of 5 feet 6 inches and an estimated body weight of 54 kg.
Sue Johnston Education
She was educated at Whiston Infants School, Eccleston Park Junior School and Prescot and Huyton Grammar School for Girls which she left aged 17 after one year of her A-level course, having decided to become an actress.
Sue Johnston Family
She is the daughter of Fred and Margaret Jane Wright.
Sue Johnston Husband
Sue Johnston was previously married to David Pammenter (1976 – 1980) and Neil Johnston (i) (1967 – 1968).
Sue Johnston Children
She has one son Joel from her second marriage to David Pammenter. She has one grandchild.
Sue Johnston Net Worth
Online estimates of Sue Johnston’s net worth vary. While it’s relatively simple to predict her income, it’s harder to know how much Sue has spent over the years.
Sue Johnston Career
Johnston made her television debut, aged 38, with a minor recurring role on Coronation Street in the summer of 1982. She played the role of Mrs. Chadwick, the wife of a bookmaker.
From 1982 to 1990, she appeared as Sheila Grant in the soap opera Brookside. She appeared in the show’s first ever episode on 2 November 1982 – aired on the day that Channel 4 went on air – and her last episode was aired in September 1990, when the character was written out of the series following her divorce from Bobby Grant (Ricky Tomlinson) and remarriage to Billy Corkhill (John McArdle).
Since then she has appeared in many drama series and films, including Inspector Morse, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, Brassed Off and My Uncle Silas. In 1992, Johnston appeared in the three-part award-winning drama Goodbye Cruel World, in which she portrayed a woman coming to terms with a muscle-wasting illness.
Johnston may be best known as Barbara Royle in the BBC comedy series The Royle Family, appearing with her former on-screen husband in Brookside, Ricky Tomlinson, from the show’s inception in September 1998 until it ended at Christmas 2000. She also appeared in a one-off special which aired in October 2006. From 2000 to 2011, she starred in the television series Waking the Dead, in which she played the role of psychological profiler Grace Foley, alongside Trevor Eve.
In 2004, she appeared in one episode of the series, Who Do You Think You Are?, in which she traced her family tree.
She starred in Jennifer Saunders’s comedy drama Jam & Jerusalem on BBC One, alongside Joanna Lumley, Maggie Steed and David Mitchell. The first series aired in 2006, the second series began on New Year’s Day 2008 and the third in August 2009. Also in 2008, she played Affery Flintwinch in the BBC adaptation of Little Dorrit. In May 2008 it was confirmed Johnston would return as Barbara Royle for another episode of The Royle Family, which aired on Christmas Day 2008 on BBC One. The show returned for further Christmas specials in 2009, 2010 and 2012. She shared a role with Billie Piper in the television adaptation of A Passionate Woman which aired on BBC One on 11 April 2010.
On 2 April 2012, Coronation Street series producer Phil Collinson announced Johnston had joined the soap opera as Gloria, the mother of Stella Price (played by Michelle Collins). She made her first screen appearance on 5 September 2012. It was announced in June 2013 that Johnston would leave the soap opera in 2014 to pursue other acting roles. She departed on 21 February 2014.
In December 2011, she played Eileen Lewis in the BBC one-off drama Lapland, a role which she reprised in 2013 for a series, Being Eileen.
In May 2014 it was announced that Johnston would guest star in the fifth series of the period drama Downton Abbey. She played Denker, a lady’s maid to the Dowager Countess, played by Dame Maggie Smith.
In 2018 Johnston played Ivy-Rae in the BBC drama series, Age Before Beauty.
Sue Johnston Movies
Preaching to the Perverted
New Year’s Day
Imagine Me & You
500 Miles North
Walk Like a Panther
Sue Johnston TV Shows
|Waking the Dead||2000–11|
Dr. Grace Foley
Hazel De Vere Q.C.
|The Royle Family||1998–2000|
|The Good Karma Hospital||2018|
|Sex, Chips & Rock n’ Roll||1999|
|My Uncle Silas||2001–03|
|Jam & Jerusalem||2006–09|
|Into the Fire||1996|
|In Suspicious Circumstances||1992|
|Hetty Wainthropp Investigates||1996|
|Goodbye Cruel World||1982|
|Age Before Beauty||2018|
|A Touch of Frost||1992|
|A Passionate Woman||2010|
Sue Johnston TV Film
The Things You Do for Love: Against the Odds
The Turn of the Screw
Sue Johnston Plastic Surgery
Speaking on a Q&A panel for her new show, Age Before Beauty, the 74-year-old discussed the dangers of being image-conscious and urged young people to love themselves in their natural form:
“We all live in selfie land and have fear for our kids that they’re growing up to be totally self-obsessed and looks-obsessed and the dangers that surround all that. You see girls in their twenties everywhere with their lips pumped up, it actually hurts me.”
“I think, ‘What will they do when they get to my age? Will they get there?’ This strange way they must be looking at their faces, it’s desperate and it’s so upsetting.”
‘It’s desperate and upsetting’, she continued, ‘and if this can make them take a step back and look… from the sixties onwards, it all started then.
“To be thin, to be what you look like, and this weight thing, and then that led to eating disorders which haven’t improved, it’s just got worse.”
Sue also went on to say: “You’ve got to be strong. ‘Don’t think that just because you have your lips pumped up or your tits pumped up, that you’re going to be accepted and life’s going to be good. It ain’t. Life’s hard and you’ve got to learn to be strong really.”
Sue plays free spirit Ivy-Rae in Age Before Beauty, written by Poldark’s Debbie Horsfield and set in a Manchester beauty salon run by a dysfunctional bunch of sisters. She hopes that her new BBC show – which follows a dysfunctional family of sisters running a salon in Manchester – will encourage people to feel more confident in themselves and see beauty in their natural appearances.
Co-star Robson Green, 53, scheming husband Teddy in the series, also urged youngsters to avoid having plastic surgery for their looks:
Sue Johnston Waking dead Interview
What memories do you have of working on Waking The Dead?
Sue Johnston:“When we filmed the pilot for Waking The Dead, we filmed outside The National theatre on the South Bank and the scene involved a lot of running. I was wearing heeled boots and ran and skidded and pulled my hamstring! The pain was awful I thought I had broken my leg. I was off for a few days but when I went back I had to be carried by paramedics up and down the set because I wasn’t allowed to walk on it, so it was very eventful.
“Oh and the first ever scene we filmed was in a land fill, the smell was awful. The cast and crew had protective clothing but then we’d go for a take and have to take all the protective clothing off. And so we were breathing this terrible smell.”
What have your favourite scenes from across the nine series been?
Sue Johnston:“Oh gosh, there have been so many. I really loved working with Holly (Aird) and Claire (Goose) from the original cast, it was fantastic.
“We’ve always had wonderful guest artists as well, Dame Eileen Atkins guest starred. The fact that all these incredible actors and actresses wanted to work on the show made me very proud. I very much enjoyed working with Paul Freeman, one of Grace’s old lovers, Grace has had so many old lovers! He tried to kill me in the end, luckily Boyd saved me.
“Another love story of Grace’s revolved around her first job when she’d just left university and graduated as a psychologist. Tom Ellis played Grace’s boyfriend and the young lady playing me was fantastic. I really enjoyed watching that episode.
“Some of my absolute favourite scenes were with Trevor; they’d just be simple conversations where we’d talk about life. As Boyd got angrier and angrier we stopped doing that. Trevor is such a great actor and I’ll always cherish the scenes we did together – when we would wing it – so to speak.
“We’d often shout at each other and over lap and I loved that the sound technician made it possible for us to do that. It is so weird to go to another job and not be able to do that. It does set you free in a way, you can just go for a scene.
“I also remember the Ruth Gemmell episodes, which I think are my absolute favourite episodes of all. Resulting in the episode where her character, Linda Cummings, was going to pump me full of drugs – in Series 8 – and again Boyd saved me. There I was dying of cancer but still not a dull moment.”
You were reunited in this series with John McArdle, who you co-starred with inBrookside. What was that like?
Sue Johnston:“Yes and again another old lover of Grace’s. To be reunited was wonderful. And I had to do a stunt which was great; I do all my own stunts. John appears in an episode called‘Solidarity’. The stunt comes about because Boyd has set me up to try and get the truth from him. It puts Grace in a very dangerous position and she has this accident and she thinks she is ok and suddenly she’s down.
“In the 80s, when we started acting John and I were an item on television in Brookside. It was extraordinary that Grace’s back story should flash back to the 80s when we were together on screen.”
Eva Birthistle joins this series as Sarah Cavendish. What does she bring to the team?
Sue Johnston:“She’s such a good actress and the camera absolutely loves her. She slotted right in, she is such a warm person and so it felt as if she’d always been there. It is a great character Eva has produced with a very interesting back story.”
What have you enjoyed about playing Grace?
Sue Johnston:“The stillness of Grace, she listens but she is quite formidable. We watched a compilation DVD that Colin Wratten, the producer, had made to celebrate the end of the series where Grace was shouting at Boyd, it was quite brutal.”
Did you do any reading around the subject area?
Sue Johnston:“Well, I did talk right at the beginning to a psychologist. Right in the early days, and I based my research on those conversations – she came to my flat and we sat having a glass of wine, she was very sexy and open and warm, and I thought ‘oh you don’t have to be a certain way, you can be a human being,’ and I think that’s what we created, in the characters.
“Recognisable people, ordinary people, but with sort of extraordinary gifts, I suppose. I mean I used to feel so proud sitting in the office and looking at all the books and thinking ‘I’ve read all those’. I understand all those and I used to read a lot of those psychological books at first.
“And of course, I would go and look them up if we were doing particularly involved subject matters – and some of the words I had to say were so scary – and I remember David Thacker, one of our special advisors, used to direct us and say: ‘let it trip it off the tongue Sue, trip it off the tongue’. And sometimes they’d suddenly re-write the scripts, and there’d be this huge line of expletives, as far as I was concerned.
“David was absolutely right because though they use these words – like doctors in a medical series, when they’re rushing medical terms out, they would trip off the tongue, because they’re just words, they know what they’re talking about. I think that was the hardest thing.”
The dynamic between you all is one of the elements of the show viewers really love. How do you work together to create that?
Sue Johnston:“Well, I know it could drive people mad, when we take scenes apart and it sort of starts unravelling a bit – that’s been the way it’s been, for some reason with this show, from day one.
“I think it’s because it’s such a complex show to write, because there has to be police input, psychological input, and the forensics, and to find all those rooted through, and character – and often we’ve found with writers that they do great ideas and stories, but there’ll be less character, conversation and relationships.
“So I think that’s what we worked hard to develop, because actually all you can give the audience is what they’re seeing – because the characters don’t go home, you never see a life that people could relate to, they had to relate to us relating to the people we work with, and therefore it was very important to make those relationships work, and live and breathe as people that they would care about.
“That’s why people watch people TV, they want to share with you that bit of your life. If it was dull and we were just giving out facts it wouldn’t have worked as well, so a lot of that work has been trying to find different ways of making facts interesting and exciting, and I think it developed really well over the years.
“I think if the team care about the victims then the audience do, because we have very clever actors who bring the audience in. It can be difficult sometimes when the people that you need to care about are dead in the present day and so you need the squad to bring the audience in and make the audience care, and that’s something that happens very successfully on the show.”
Did you have much in-put into Grace’s wardrobe?
Sue Johnston:“When it started I wanted her to be very much how she probably would have dressed at university – slightly hippy, slightly off the wall, not clean cut suits… I like the layering – I think Grace actually brought layering in – and a bit floaty and slightly bohemian, like she would have been at uni, I can see her like that.
“It just developed on from there and the costume designer really picked up on it and we really hit ‘Grace’, you know, and we did get some really nice jackets, but she’d always wear long things underneath. This season I’ve got into skirts and boots, and I felt very odd, I don’t think I liked it very much, cause I’d sit down and I’d suddenly see my leg and I thought ‘You shouldn’t be seeing Grace’s knees’ It’s not right, somehow.”
What was filming the final episode, ‘Waterloo’, like?
Sue Johnston:“I will always remember it because even though we filmed it second, I had a sense of it being the end. The final scene under Waterloo bridge was fantastic. It is such a great episode and I love the shots of Boyd walking through London, walking to meet us. A great performance from Trevor, from everyone in fact.
“I shall miss working with them all, I shall miss Tara. I think Tara is fantastic and I loved doing scenes in the lab with her, I’d sit and look at how beautiful she was – she’d have died if she’d known, and such a beautiful person too.
“The crew were fantastic as well and they have been more of less the same crew since we started. I am really looking forward to it going out – to see how it is received.”
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