Graham and Suki…and the lycra!
THE JOHN HANNAM INTERVIEW
Actor Graham Pountney and his wife Suki Taylor, a dancer and choreographer, have been coming to the Island since 1976, and were married six years later in Seaview.
Since then Graham has starred in Howard’s Way, until his most spectacular screen exit as powerboat driver Mark Foster, and guested in shows like New Tricks, Hannay and EastEnders. Meanwhile, Suki appeared in Hello Dolly with Danny La Rue, worked with the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi and now plies her skills with local wheelchair dancers and dementia sufferers.
They met at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Graham was a third year student and Suki taught movement. So how did they get together in that hot summer of ’76?
“I think he just fell in love with my lycra all-in-one red leotard,” suggested Suki. On the other hand, Graham remembered it as pure lust. Whatever it was, they are still enjoying life together, both socially and in joint working projects. Suki vividly remembers just how good an actor Graham was while still at drama school. She first saw him in their production of A Mid Summer Night’s Dream. His love of Shakespeare has continued and this year, the 400th anniversary of the Bard, he has been doing his one-man Shakespeare show, as a celebration. He was also a founder of the Original Shakespeare Company, who produced their shows in the original format.
Graham’s appearance as Tim the Tramp in EastEnders and guest spots in Goodbye Mr Chips, Doctors and The Bill were nothing like Shakespeare. Suki danced in Europe and South Africa in her early days before being involved with the choreography for movies like Jedi, Absolute Beginners and Privates on Parade. She still fondly remembers working with Danny La Rue in the West End’s Hello Dolly. She said: “When Danny changed from his civvies into his frocks he did actually change his personality as well. It was quite extraordinary.” Her other theatre credits include The Boyfriend, No, No, Nanette and Mack and Mabel. Suki has her own CentreStage Dance and Drama School, based in Surrey, and Graham, who appeared in a West End production of Hobson’s Choice, is also heavily involved in writing scripts and occasionally teaching. This year they took a production to the Edinburgh Festival and Graham also presented his Shakespeare show. Currently Suki is involved with the Royal Academy of Dance project called Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing, with its theme of ‘live your life – forget your age’.
She is one of a handful of chosen coaches involved with this exciting venture. “I am keen to build it up on the Island. I currently have classes at The Orchards, Newport, and Silver Sands in Bembridge. These include wheelchair dancers and some members with dementia. Music and dance is so beneficial for dementia sufferers. They love it.” She can be contacted on 07940503971. Graham, who has recently appeared in a movie called Lines in the Sand, could be playing Winston Churchill in a forthcoming play involving former Islander Larry Holofcener, a sculptor, actor, poet and songwriter. His statue of Churchill and Roosevelt is world famous. The play is likely to be called The Big Sleepover at the White House, set in 1942. Suki and Graham are not your normal luvvies. No egos in sight and they are an admirable double act, on and off stage, and have come a long way from the Bristol Old Vic. To Seaview, in fact!