Mr Flibble Talks To... Railway Child
When Kryten faced the onslaught of the Psirens, there was only one woman who could hold power over him: his creator, Professor Mamet. Mr Flibble hunts down the woman who forced her mechanoid into a crushing machine.
9 February, 2001
Jenny Agutter
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

How did you begin acting at a young age?

I was at a ballet school, I went there at the age of 8, 9, and Walt Disney was making a film about the Royal Danish Ballet [Ballerina] - at this time I was 11, I'd been at the ballet school for a couple of years. He needed a young girl who could dance, and five of auditioned from the school - I screen-tested and got the role.

And whilst I was screen-testing - such is the nature of my career that it's gone backwards and forwards and done all sorts of weird things - whilst I was screen-testing for the part of a Danish girl, I was seen by an agent who knew two producers looking for a young girl who could play an Arab girl in a film that had Anthony Quayle in. That was called East of Sudan, shot entirely at Shepperton Studios and it was a sort of B-feature - when they had B-features - to go with First Men on the Moon.

All they did in terms of auditioning me was pick me up! Feel that my weight was about right, because the little girl had to be carried around a great deal, I looked much younger than I was - I was 11, I looked about 8 because I was quite small at that time. They stuck me in a dark wig - I had a frightful English accent and there I was being an Arab girl. (Laughs) Cast as a lightweight, basically!

But then I got the part in the Disney film, which was slightly more serious, and I had my dancing to do in that. Then, when I was 14, I auditioned for, and got, the role of Roberta in the television mini-series version of The Railway Children - with Julia Smith directing. That was about three years before Lionel Jeffries' film.

Film is the thing that traps you more than anything else. So having done Walkabout and The Railway Children, I was out of school, 17 - I finished school early - and realised I needed to know something about my business. But instead of going to drama school I then went straight into theatre, I did television and theatre.

I went to the National, at the age of 20. I felt somewhat out of my league, because most of the other people there were actually coming out of drama school. Most of my peers had all come out of RADA and Central and all of that. That brought about in me a change. It took me completely out of film. There wasn't very much at that time in film anyway. I got into theatre, which is much more immediate. In some people's eyes you seem to not be around - but in terms of work I was actually doing a lot.