John Challis: Mum fostered my acting ambition

This weekend, many of you will be buying chocolates and flowers and finding ways to celebrate mums.

John Challis
John Challis

Mother’s Day is a unique occasion that gives us all the opportunity to reflect on the contribution that mums make to our lives.

In my case, Mother’s Day isn’t necessarily the greatest day of remembrance for my dear departed mother. I tend to think of her more often on her birthday.

She was a wonderful soul and was one of my main inspirations when I decided to become an actor. I think she might have become a professional herself, had her life panned out differently.

She started out in Bath, Somerset, and was part of a company at the Assembly Rooms there. But the war came and it all closed up. My father was in the admiralty, so they moved and she never went back to it. Then I came along and that was it.

She was always very proud of me. She’d come to see me in shows and she’d tune in when I was on the television.

She could be embarrassing, of course – aren’t all mothers, from time to time – but I loved her dearly.

Rather unpromisingly, my mum used to tell people that any talent I had I’d got from her. I never knew what to make of that. She saw me perform at the National Theatre and in the West End. I remember one play I was in, The Rivals, and one of the actors had previously played alongside her.

I introduced them at the end of the show and she’d remembered him telling people how he’d suffered for his art. He didn’t know where to put himself, poor chap.

I think she wanted to be part of it and as my career progressed I got her a bit of voice over work, which she loved. She was a wonderful woman and she helped to foster my ambition to act.

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