LIZA GODDARD is very honest about why she took on the role of the sensible Miss Williams in Agatha Christie’s whodunnit Go Back For Murder.
“It’s work,” she says. “Every time a job finishes I think ‘That’s it, I’ll never work again’.”
But the actress, who has appeared on TV in everything from sitcoms like Yes Honestly to sci-fi classic Doctor Who and as a team captain on Give Us A Clue, very quickly adds: “Then I read the script and realised what a very good writer Agatha Christie was.
“I think she’s become a bit ill-considered nowadays, her books have gone a bit out of fashion, but she’s sold literally billions around the world and I see why now.
“Her construction and characterisation are incredible, and you never know who’s done it until the end.”
Liza, who started her acting career in Aussie TV series Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, has now taken to reading Christie novels for the first time and even visited her old house, Greenway, in Devon when Go Back For Murder visited Torquay.
“It’s an incredible place, you really get to feel the person,” she says. “She lived there and she collected things – there’s still loads of stuff she brought back from archaeological digs in Syria and Egypt, cupboards full of stuff.”
As for why Christie and her detective characters like Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple have endured for so long, she says: “It’s marvellous, it’s escapist – she sets up well, you get to know the people and get to care for them very quickly in a way you don’t with modern novels.
“She very quickly gets you to care for them and the stories are really very good. She’ll still be remembered in another 50 years.”
Go Back For Murder originally had Poirot as the central character but Christie didn’t think the fastidious Belgian worked well on stage so she re-wrote it.
“It’s a time travel piece,” explains Liza. “The daughter, Carla Crale, decides to try and find out if it’s true that her mother killed her father. She investigates and you meet all the suspects and then you go back in time to see what happened.
“Sophie Ward plays both mother and daughter with 20 years between and she’s fantastic, it’s a really great cast.”
Robert Duncan (jargon-spouting chief executive Gus Hedges in Channel 4’s Drop the Dead Donkey), Gary Mavers (ITV’s Peak Practice), Lysette Anthony (star of Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives) and Ben Nealon (Soldier, Soldier) complete the line-up.
Liza, 63, says of her role as Miss Williams: “There’s always a Miss Williams type of character in Agatha Christie’s books – quite a butch lady with short hair and sensible shoes who’s very sensible, and I’m really feeling the part!
“That’s another thing, Agatha Christie wrote some cracking roles for women. There are no roles for women my age on telly.”
So, is she looking forward to a new challenge when the current tour finishes in November?
“Well obviously I’ll be out of a job and never work again…”
Liza Goddard stars in Go Back For Murder at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday (September 30) until Saturday, October 5.