What do tea, elephants and Kim Catrall have in common?
|Emma Brophy meets Chiswick's best known char lady |
Cradling a cup of perfectly brewed tea, Leslie Nichols tells me how she came to live in Chiswick. A resident for over a decade, Leslie, better known as Auntea from Tetley Tea fame, became so 'quite by accident'.
Following an interview at the BBC, Leslie decided to take her father for lunch in Chiswick and during an after lunch stroll began to look at properties. One local estate agent told the actress that she was wasting her time. With property to sell in South East London allowing her a modest budget, Leslie was informed that it was "unlikely she would find anything in Chiswick in her price range and that when people moved here, they rarely left" - no surprise then that the said estate agent is no longer in business!
No one to be easily disheartened, Leslie persistence paid off. She described the first time she walked into her flat as "a kind of chemical reaction, it was love at first sight". Situated on the now much improved Acton Lane, Leslie's two bedroomed flat is adorned by theatrical memorabilia and souvenirs. The property's substantial secluded garden is surprisingly peaceful and even has its own garden room tucked away in the corner.
Leslie says "I love Chiswick's strong sense of community. Coming here from SE London was like landing on a different planet! And it's wonderful for an actress to be able to come home after an evening's work."
Appearing for two years in West End hit show Mamma Mia, Leslie had auditioned for many TV adverts before being picked as the face of Tetley Tea. "I was in Aberdeen touring with The Virgina Monologues so I wasn't going to go for the audition as I never seemed to be chosen for adverts. However when I heard that Armando Iannuchi was going to be the director I couldn't refuse. Linda Robson, who I was also on tour with me, declared that we should light candles to ask for help, so we found the nearest Catholic church and did just that."
The commercials are now directed by Declan Lowney of Little Britain Fame. With the sixth advert of the series currently being broadcast and more in the pipeline, Leslie has become a firm favourite with tea lovers across the country. I asked her which was the most fun to make. "Definitely the one coming up with the Elephant" she said "Although they have all been fun in their own way especially working with Kim Cattrall. She is simply stunning. She arrived with all the Hollywood trappings but is really down to earth - her Liverpool roots are definitely still intact."
Time for one final question and I just couldn't resist asking her where did she consider the best cuppa in Chiswick could be found. "Definately the Copper Kettle on Bedford Corner," she replied "The ladies in there are lovely and friendly and they make a great cup of tea."
Leslie is currently playing the Fairy Godmother at the Playhouse in Oxford alongside Keira Knightly's father. She and her partner want to upsize their home and are currently looking for a house in the Strand on the Green area.
November 17, 2005