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Julie Samuel, Saint Etienne, Bond, Kubrick, witches and Foyles Bookshop

Tags: julie singer

Julie was the female lead in Ferry Cross The Mersey in 1965…

Yesterday’s blog was a chat with actress/producer/manager Julie Samuel who has just published her autobiography What Are We Going To Do About Julie?

It continues below…

Derek Cracknell: from Kubrick to Bond…

JOHN: You married a movie person.

JULIE: Derek Cracknell. He was a First Assistant Director in films. He worked on films like Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Aliens, three James Bond films. Lots. He was really, really good at his job.

We met on a blockbuster-type film called The Long Ships (1964). It was made in Yugoslavia and I was sent over there to play any speaking part.

They sent three of us over, girls, in case there was any English dialogue needed. So I ended up playing three parts: a Viking wench, a Harem girl and I doubled for the leading lady strapped to a horse with my hands strapped behind my back.

JOHN: You wore a different wig each time?

JULIE: Yes! The first was a kind of blonde wig and a rough sackcloth frock and they made all our bodies look tanned and a bit dirty. For the second one, the Harem girl, I had a turban, a long black wig and a beautiful floating costume with Haremy-type pants designed by Paco Rabanne. We were there for three months. I met Derek there and fell madly in love with him.

But, very sadly, he died quite young. He died at 55 from pancreatic cancer. Something you never expect at that age, do you?

JOHN: Now your daughter (Sarah Cracknell) is a performer too.

JULIE: Yes, she’s still singing. Saint Etienne. They started in the early 1990s. They played Glastonbury last year; they’ve played it about eight times; been on Top of the Pops several times. They grew up together as university students.

JOHN: So your father was a Singer and she’s a singer, so you must be a singer as well.

JULIE: I can sing a bit, yes, and my 18-year-old grandson’s a singer. He’s got a band together – The Parallels – and they’re playing gigs and he’s good: writing all his own songs. 

JOHN: You moved from on-stage and front-of-camera to the production side around the turn of the century..

JULIE: Around 1999, the music business was being very tough. CDs were not being bought and people were downloading everything. 

Julie – Great Expectations and a Wild Thyme

My cousin, Joan Lane, who has her own company called Wild Thyme Productions, was doing a musical about Moses. She asked me if I would like to become involved and I thought: This is really quite nice. These are grown-ups I’m dealing with now. (LAUGHS) They turn up on time; they know their lines; they’re disciplined.

I did Moses and five or six Shakespeare plays with my cousin… and Great Expectations as a musical. 

JOHN: Where did all this happen?

JULIE: In London, in Germany; we used to go to the Shakespeare Festival every year. 

We also organised the Queen Mother’s 100th Birthday Parade. We did all sorts of things on the side.

Then we met this fellah called David Martin who was a singer turned very successful songwriter. He wrote Can’t Smile Without You for Barry Manilow (Manilow’s was a cover version of the David Martin original) and quite a few other hits. He had written all these songs for Great Expectations. A bit like Oliver! – pop songs within this classic story.

We tried desperately to get it off the ground; we did a showcase; we had some people putting money in but not enough; not enough to get it off the ground.

Joan went off doing other things and I asked David: “What other songs have you got that have never been released? Why don’t we but on a revue? A little sketch, then a song; another sketch, another song.”

A Bowl of Cherries starred Clare Buckfield and Gary Wilmot

We decided to make it about birth-to-death. Children at school… song… teenagers… song… middle age… song… and so on. It really gelled very well together and we found a writer, Carolyn Pertwee, to write the stories in between.

The Charing Cross Theatre said they would like to put it on – A Bowl of Cherries. It was there for a month and we had some really good reviews and got nominated for an award. I thought it would be a nice UK tour and desperately tried to get money to move it on. We got pledges – £20 grand here, £20 grand there – but, to put a musical tour on, you need hundreds of thousands of pounds. So it was a little masterpiece, but it never went any further.

JOHN: Where did you get your organisational skills from? Performers are notoriously often all-over-the-place.

JULIE: I don’t know. As a kid I used to love things like pamphlets. And filing! (LAUGHS) Filing! I like filing! My daughter and I also have a property company now. I do the admin side – the tax and stuff like that – and I quite enjoy it.

JOHN: You’ve been very successful in all sorts of different areas.

JULIE: I think you make your own luck. As I say in my book, “Say Yes, I’ll give it a go, not No, I won’t even try”. You’re going to make mistakes. Everybody does. But you learn from your mistakes. You’ve got to grab life while you can, otherwise what’s the point?

JOHN: Something in the family genes?

JULIE: Many years ago, when my mother died, my friend Dee, who writes, wrote a story called The Bookseller’s Daughters and it’s basically about how my grandfather’s ancestors came to the East End of London from Russia during the pogroms. My grandfather’s mother was Jewish; his father was not..

William & Christina Foyle (Picture source:

So my grandfather – my mother’s father William Foyle – was half Jewish. My grandmother, who married William Foyle, was strict Presbyterian Scottish.

So we were all brought up very strictly. Religious backgrounds.

When we went to research her ancestors in the Shetland Islands, we found out our ancestors were witches.

Barbara Tulloch and her daughter Ellen King – the last witches to be burned in Shetland, around 1680/1700. Their ashes are in the museum in Shetland.

So my friend wrote this story. All the first bit’s fictitious, because we have no idea where his parents came from.

Foyles Bookshop in London (Photo by Tarquin Binary)

But then it starts and this guy has a barrow and he’s selling books and finally he gets a basement to sell books, then he’s got this whole area in Charing Cross Road and he has these three children – my mother, my aunt Christina Foyle and my uncle Richard Foyle.

My aunt Christina was quite a wicked lady but then she did have something that happened to her as a child. She was put into a sanatorium for tuberculosis and was allegedly abused by a soldier from the First World War. She manipulated my grandfather into getting everything. She got everything. My uncle died, so it was just left with my mum and my aunt Christina. 

At the moment, I’m editing that book: putting it into the right time frame.

I’d never written prose before my autobiography: just a few scripts and sketches.

JOHN: You seem to be able to do anything…

JULIE: I can’t really do nothing…

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Julie Samuel, Saint Etienne, Bond, Kubrick, witches and Foyles Bookshop


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