'I am very happy to make this website, designed by Liz, official.'
ZoŽ Wanamaker CBE
My name's Liz, and I manage the website. For details of when and why it was created, please see the section about this website.
ZoŽ has an official Twitter account, @ZoeWanamaker, that she runs with her PA, Vanessa. I tweet at @LizLockhart1985.
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse:
You can donate to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, and find out more about this recreation of an indoor Jacobean theatre, on the Shakespeare's Globe website. ZoŽ, who is Honorary President of the Globe, talks about the history and significance of the project in a video by the theatre.
Guestbook - To sign the guestbook, please click the picture below. Your comments are much appreciated.
26 April 2017 20:08
If you've ever wondered what it's like to lead a major cultural institution, Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at the National Theatre by one of ZoŽ's directors, Nicholas Hytner, will be essential reading. As the Radio Times points out, there's a 'cast of vivid characters in the book: generations of actors (Simon Russell Beale, Rory Kinnear, ZoŽ Wanamaker) and writers whom Hytner has nurtured'.
During his hugely successful tenure as the National's Artistic Director (2003-2015), Hytner oversaw or was directly involved with a number of shows featuring ZoŽ. He was at the theatre's helm when the first Travelex £10 season, which included His Girl Friday (2003), was introduced, helping to make theatre accessible to wider audiences. He directed the celebrated 2007 revival of Much Ado About Nothing. He pioneered NT Live cinema screenings of plays including The Cherry Orchard (2011). His insights are bound to be fascinating.
Balancing Acts will be published on 27 April. You can also hear Hytner himself read from it on Radio 4's Book of the Week, from 1-5 May at 9:45am (repeated 12:30am).
24 April 2017 15:13
The BBC has just released the first trailer for Babs, its forthcoming biopic of bubbly actress and national treasure Barbara Windsor. The clips give us our first glimpse of ZoŽ as radical theatre director Joan Littlewood, one of Windsor's early mentors.
'If you're not careful, you'll end up playing this sexy little blonde for the rest of your life,' Littlewood warns the starlet (played by Jaime Winstone).
The trailer doesn't specify a broadcast date, but hopefully we won't have long to wait now for what promises to be a fascinating BBC One drama.
Updated 26 April: It looks as if the next issue of both the Radio Times and TV Times will feature Babs. That suggests we can expect to see the programme on our screens sometime between 6 and 12 May.
18 April 2017 23:06
Such Rotten Luck's welcome return
Thanks to BBC Radio 4 Extra, there's a rare chance to hear Ronald Hayman's witty comedy-drama Such Rotten Luck again. ZoŽ stars alongside Tim Pigott-Smith, who sadly died recently, in the series. It was first broadcast in 1989 and follows the struggles of a second-class writer and his long-suffering wife. The chemistry between ZoŽ and her co-star is brilliant, making every episode a real treat.
Such Rotten Luck's first episode, 'The Little Grey Man', airs on 20 April at 9:30am with further chances to listen at 4:30pm that afternoon and (for any real early birds!) 4:30am the following day.
Lovely photo with a canine chum
Over 20 years after Such Rotten Luck, ZoŽ and Tim Pigott-Smith featured as another married couple in Wodehouse in Exile (originally called An Innocent Abroad). In BBC Four's moving 2013 film about PG Wodehouse's wartime experiences, ZoŽ again plays the wife of a writer (although a rather more acclaimed one this time!).
Mary Tavy Dog Grooming recently shared this lovely photo of ZoŽ holding a cute Pekingese called Adam. ZoŽ believes it was taken during the making of the film. (You may remember that her character, Ethel, owns an adorable lapdog.)
Attending the National's Up Next gala
Last month, ZoŽ attended the National Theatre's biennial fundraising gala, Up Next, in London. She was photographed at the event in a chic, sparkly outfit. Other well-known special guests included Olivia Coleman, Lenny Henry and Penelope Wilton.
Up Next was a huge success, raising more than £1 million for the NT's Learning department. The money will help to improve young people's access to theatre and the other arts (a cause close to ZoŽ's heart).
Watching a record-breaking performance
Whatsonstage.com recently highlighted some of the greatest theatre-related world records, including the 'Bardathon', which ZoŽ visited during summer 1987. Actor Adrian Hilton recited Shakespeareís complete works over four days, close to where Shakespeareís Globe now stands in London, becoming the holder of the Guinness World Record for the longest solo theatrical performance!
15 April 2017 03:23
On 9 April, ZoŽ and her husband, Gawn Grainger, joined other leading lights from the UK theatre industry at the Olivier Awards 2017 in London. For the second year running, ZoŽ was chosen to provide the voiceover for the prestigious ceremony, which took place at the Royal Albert Hall. She also appeared on stage twice during the course of the evening, wearing a show-stopping long black dress.
Backstage at the event, ZoŽ was photographed laughing, as well as in a more reflective mood.
When the nominations for the Virgin Atlantic Best New Play were announced, she was invited to speak briefly to the audience about the compelling nature of Nick Payne's Elegy, in which she starred last year at the Donmar Warehouse as a woman battling a neurological disorder. 'Elegy is set in the very near future, exploring a world where the brain is no longer a mystery to us. But Nick's play asks at what cost?' ZoŽ emphasised. 'As part of its original cast, [having] play[ed] one of its three fantastic characters alongside Barbara Flynn and Nina Sosanya, I'm delighted that Elegy has been nominated tonight. Nick has written a play for today.'
Unfortunately, Zoe's speech wasn't included in the Olivier Awards' TV coverage on ITV1 (the broadcast slot was shorter than the ceremony itself). However, a couple of great photos of her making the speech have been released. Elegy lost out to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (the winner of an unprecedented nine Oliviers) in the end; nevertheless, its nomination for such a major award pays tribute to the tremendous talents of the writer and cast.
Towards the end of the ceremony, ZoŽ and her husband were among more than 60 members of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company who gathered on stage to celebrate Branagh's Society of London Theatre Special Award. Having both appeared in the company's 2015-16 Plays at the Garrick season in the West End (ZoŽ in All On Her Own/Harlequinade, Gawn in The Entertainer), they looked delighted to be honouring their friend and colleague.
Thank you, Karoline, for your help and images of the souvenir brochure.
13 April 2017 00:25
ZoŽ joins Inside Number 9's star-studded cast
Excitingly, ZoŽ's fans now have not two but three brand new TV shows to look forward to over the coming months. That's because ZoŽ has been invited to play a special guest role in an episode from the fourth series of BBC2's Inside Number 9.
She's among a host of well-known faces set to appear in Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith's cult comedy-drama, which features darkly humorous stories with weird and wonderful twists. Joining ZoŽ in the next series will be Noel Clarke, Emilia Fox, Nicola Walker and many others. In the words of Inside Number 9's talented creators, 'it's a dream to work with the country's finest [actors]'.
In 2011, when the Guardian asked him to highlight the best performance he's ever seen on stage, Pemberton chose ZoŽ's portrayal of a long-suffering wife in Terry Johnson's Dead Funny (1994). 'Wanamaker could have you howling with laughter one minute and sobbing the next, because she has the kind of emotional insight that draws you in,' he explained. That quality will surely be ideal for Inside Number 9.
Filming is taking place at Pinewood Studios and on location, with the series expected to air in 2018. I'll bring you details of Zoe's episode as soon as they become available.
In the meantime, if you enjoy quirky stories with surprising endings (who doesn't?!), why not revisit ZoŽ's brilliant performance in Tales of the Unexpected (1987)?
ZoŽ and her husband at Don Juan in Soho's press night
Talking of brilliant performances, ZoŽ's husband, Gawn Grainger, is currently appearing alongside David Tennant in Patrick Marber's Don Juan in Soho. The exciting play, which focuses on 'a cruel seducer who lives only for pleasure' (as the show's official website remarks), had its opening night at Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End on 28 March. ZoŽ and her husband were pictured together enjoying the after-party, both dressed in smart, funky outfits.
Don Juan in Soho runs until 10 June; tickets are available.
New book features ZoŽ's insights into Much Ado About Nothing
ZoŽ's own stage work forms part of a new book by fellow actor Julian Curry, Shakespeare on Stage: Volume 2. Recently published by Nick Hern Books, the book includes an interview with Zoe about playing Beatrice in the National Theatre's acclaimed 2007 production of Much Ado About Nothing (there's a clip below to help refresh your memory).
In a lovely extract from the interview on the publisher's blog, ZoŽ emphasises that Beatrice is 'perfectly matched' with her old sparring partner, Benedick; they're soulmates. 'Of all the people she might have a relationship with, it could only be him [...] It's the warmth and the wit of these two people, and the fact that they are misfits who thankfully find each other, that make it such a joyous play.'
Thank you, Karoline, for bringing the book to my attention.
And just in case anyone was wondering, a write-up of the recent Olivier Awards will follow in a separate news article... :-)