Ever heard the term ‘scream queen’? Well you have now. Tricia Walsh-Smith is, to me, anyway, one of those definitive actors who propelled the imagery of the horror genre. She is an actress/playwright/lyricist/ singer. I had the privilege of sitting down with the lady, in time for Halloween. Looking back. Looking at now. And contemplating the future of film.
Q: Kenny Everett: will we ever see his like again?
Never. He was a one off, totally outrageous – a cheeky chappy who quite happily skipped his way across all boundaries. He also had an acute nose for talent and knew what would work. One example was Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Queen had been told the track was too long and would never get air play, so the band got a reel to Kenny who played it on his show, forcing Queen’s record company to release the single. Without Kenny the wonderful BR would never have become the monster hit it was. Aside from that, there was an air of profuse sadness about Kenny.
Q: Is David Walliams the new Dick Emery?
I’m not sure…. I don’t watch him.
Workshop of Tricia’s musical Change the Day
Trailer for Tricia’s upcoming new music video, Dance Through Time
Tricia performing Hip 2 B A Cougar for finale of the 2nd series of the renamed PDS
Q: What is the secret to excelling at Pineapple Dance Studio?
Marching to the beat of your own drum and not allowing the producers to dictate content. The first six episodes of PDS were the best because the production company didn’t interfere. It was supposedly a documentary series, and participants of docs generally don’t get paid. Nonetheless, once the show was in the can, PDS suddenly became a reality show.
The upside of their disingenuity was that apart from Louis Spence’s material, they didn’t meddle, and just followed us around. However, once Sky commissioned another six episodes, they then attempted to control the narrative. I didn’t allow it. I’ve been working in TV since the age of fifteen and I write my own material, all my skits came from me. Plus, along with composer Simon Kay, I direct my music videos. No way was I going to allow kids barely out of college to dictate. It was bad enough not being in control of the edit!
Also, a snippet of information not widely known — Debbie Moore, owner of Pineapple Dance Studios who also appeared on the show, and dancer, Louis Spence, were unaware of my participation in PDS, until the Pineapple trailers aired. Debbie went ballistic because she apparently felt I’d stolen her thunder. She then badmouthed me to the press, whilst her daughter quite viciously trashed me in a blog she wrote at the time.
That said — when the next series of PDS was commissioned, Debbie and Louie demanded I didn’t return. Sky buckled, but by episode four, Stuart Murphy, chief of entertainment, realized to his horror that the show was tanking and insisted I be brought back. Debbie Moore was livid and hit out by quitting the show and refusing permission for Sky to use the Pineapple Dance Studio moniker, hence the change of title to Louie Spence’s Showbusiness.
Nevertheless, getting me back wasn’t an easy task, as their pernicious behaviour had cut me to the quick, but a nice sized paycheck, and the promise of an episode devoted to a workshop of my musical, Change the Day, persuaded me to acquiesce. Unfortunately, my return in episode eight was too late to save the show. The viewers had left in droves.
Q: What’s harder: writing or performing?
Writing, There’s nothing as scary as starting a play, musical or novel with a blank page and a vague idea of where the plot’s going. It takes tremendous focus, although lyrics and skits come easily. Whereas, acting is like breathing – second nature. Easy, peasy, pudding and pie! I’m having fun at the moment voicing Bobby Rich (Deceased). He’s a four-year-old spirit who lives in Heaven but loves popping down to earth and involving himself in things he shouldn’t. He’s totally real to me and I love him to death. Pardon the pun!#
Tricia promoting ‘Terror’, 1979
Q: Is ‘Terror’ still a scary movie? Does it hold up?
I never thought ‘Terror‘ was scary because I was in it! But it’s an absolute cult classic. I remember a scene where “blood” drips through the bathroom ceiling while I put on my make up. I become hysterical and “Susie” enters asking what’s wrong. I scream, “It’s blood! It’s blood isn’t it?” Susie goes upstairs to investigate – I follow, but go downstairs… Duh! Well. I couldn’t stop giggling! It was so absurd! I finally go upstairs and breathlessly murmur, “Susie, where are you? Answer me!” Long pause – a knife appears out of thin air and I’m stabbed to death in both calves.
The reason I meet my demise this way is because back in the day I had a complex about my legs and thought my calves were big, so always wore white socks to cover them up. The producers were thrilled as the socks covered up the plastic limbs! So – back to your question – is Terror still scary? It was never scary but it’s an absolute cult classic. And lets not forget, it won a Rotten Tomato award! That’s an achievement in itself! #
Like I said: It was never scary (to me) but it’s an absolute cult classic.
Reunited with ‘Terror’ writer David McGillivray in 2017
Q: Born in Germany…do you ever go back? Did its cinema leave any impression on you?
My father’s buried in R.A.F. Rheindahlen military cemetery and sadly, I’ve only visited his grave once – a year after he passed. I have been back to other parts of Germany for work and romance, but R.A.F. Wildenrath, where we lived is no longer R.A.F. married quarters. We also lived in Tobruk, Libya.
I had a fab childhood. Regarding cinema – there was a movie house on the camp and my younger brother Kevin and I could always be found on Saturday afternoons munching on popcorn and watching the latest movie. I remember loving Elvis movies, but the stand-out memory has to be “She,” starring Ursula Andress. She played a woman who had the secret of eternal youth. I think the movie that made me and my family realize I was heading towards a career in showbiz was “Oliver.” I bought the cast album and pranced up and down the living room warbling, “Who will buy my sweet red roses, two blooms for a penny…” and “As long as he needs me…”
Q: Top five movies you re-watch?
The Sixth Sense;
A Christmas Carol – The Alastair Sim version is the best, but I watch them all every year and bawl my eyes out the moment Tiny Tim appears on screen!
It’s A Wonderful Life; Ghost ; A Star is Born – the Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson version.
POST SCRIPT, READERS: Tricia’s public account has been hacked and not controlled by her and private account deleted by Facebook because hackers said she was impersonating a celebrity – herself!! You couldn’t make it up! Which is why she’s now Tricia Mischeefo. Must say – I do like the name. 😉