'A Play about Men, Mood Swings and the Menopause? There's No Acting Required for Me!' She's the Former Punk Singer Turned Soap Actress Whose Life Has Been a Series of Highs and Lows. but as Margi Clarke Tells Abbie Wightwick, All These Experiences Make Her the Perfect Fit for Her New Stage Role

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), February 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

'A Play about Men, Mood Swings and the Menopause? There's No Acting Required for Me!' She's the Former Punk Singer Turned Soap Actress Whose Life Has Been a Series of Highs and Lows. but as Margi Clarke Tells Abbie Wightwick, All These Experiences Make Her the Perfect Fit for Her New Stage Role


Byline: Margi Clarke

* T'S hard to know where to start with Margi - "pronounced 'marg-ie'. I'm not like the margarine" - Clarke.

Her CV reads like a who's who of the 1980s music, film and television scene.

The Liverpool-born actress has done everything from presenting cult music show The Tube to starring in much-loved film Letter to Brezhnev, the 1985 vehicle which launched her career and the work of which she's most proud.

She's appeared in Brookside and Casualty and presented The Good Sex Guide on TV.

That's quite apart from her life as a punk singer who once supported Adam and the Ants, featured in a Pet Shop Boys video and rubbed shoulders with '80s glitterati such as Paula Yates.

At the peak of her career in the 1990s, Margi had a BMW, designer clothes, a nice home in Liverpool and was appearing regularly in Coronation Street.

But while her professional life rode on the crest of a wave her personal life started to unravel.

When her mother Frances, a former mayor of Kirby, died from lung cancer in 1996, Margi turned to alcohol to cope.

By 1998 she was so erratic she was downing two bottles of wine a day.

As the 58-year-old bleakly recalls: "My mum was a great mainstay and when she died I just fell into a void. I got sick.

"I was very like my mum and, although I'm one of 10 children, we were close. She'd always be there to tell me if she thought I needed to nip my behaviour in the bud. I always knew she was watching over me.

"When she died nothing prepared me for it. Suddenly I didn't have anyone to tell me that I maybe had a potentially dangerous side to my personality; in my case it was an addiction to alcohol.

"I'd written off showbusiness," she says candidly. "I'd had my chance and I blew it back in 1998 when I left Coronation Street."

While she was appearing in the iconic soap as jailbird Jackie Dobbs she admits temptation was never far away.

"There was plenty of opportunity to party and it quickly got to the point where I was drinking a couple of bottles of wine a day," she recalls.

"It was like alcohol had opened a gate to a dangerous lifestyle that I knew was wrong but at the same time it made me feel like superwoman."

When Coronation Street executives didn't renew her contract she was devastated and for a while her life spun into free fall. As her career crumbled she also walked out on famed punk artist Jamie Reid, her partner of 17 years, the father of daughter Rowan and the man she'd described as 'the love of my life'. "It was all part of the same self-destructive madness I was going through. I'd lost all parameters," she's since said.

"I don't know what I thought I was doing; maybe I thought I could leave and he'd be there waiting, I don't know.

"He's married again now and I'm very happy for him. …

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'A Play about Men, Mood Swings and the Menopause? There's No Acting Required for Me!' She's the Former Punk Singer Turned Soap Actress Whose Life Has Been a Series of Highs and Lows. but as Margi Clarke Tells Abbie Wightwick, All These Experiences Make Her the Perfect Fit for Her New Stage Role
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