Passed/failed

JOSIE LAWRENCE
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The Independent Online
Josie (real name Wendy) Lawrence, 39, has played a leading role in the sitcom `Outside Edge' and many roles in the improvisation series `Whose Line is it Anyway?'. She stars in `Frozen', which opens at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre on May 1st. She won Best Actress awards for `Much Ado About Nothing' and `The Taming of the Shrew' and has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Plymouth. Films include `Enchanted April', directed by Mike Newell, and the forthcoming `Married to Malcolm'.

Whose House Is It Anyway? We had a Wendy House at Old Hill Primary and Junior School, in the West Midlands. My real name is Wendy and I couldn't understand the rota system to go in it. I kept being pulled out. "Why is Deborah in it? It's not called Deborah's House!"

She Who Plays the Piper? On Friday afternoons we were allowed to "play and create". The improvisation part of me came out in my version of the Pied Piper; the girls had lead parts and the boys were rats which came out from under the desks when I played my recorder. We only lived down the road and I would go home for dinner, except on Tuesdays when I would have lunch at the next door neighbour's, which I liked, or at school, which I didn't like, because I used to eat with my knife and fork in the wrong hand and they would tell me off. My favourite teacher was Mr Parsons. His report said: "We are very pleased with the way Wendy has entertained us but we wish she wouldn't worry so much."

Slap Unhappy? I was hopeless at Maths and used to mime my times table. I usually got a red line through my long division and eventually I slapped Mr Parsons round the face and ran out of school. They spoke to me very nicely about it and said I couldn't go on running away from school, otherwise my mummy and daddy would go to prison.

94th and Counting? I got my 11-plus and went to Rowley Regis Grammar School, which was on the top of a hill and you could see it from our street. The school motto was, "I Will Lift Up My Eyes". I was dreadful at Maths. I would always be 94th in the school exam - there were 94 in the school. I was terrible at Physics and Chemistry. My dad used to help me; he can remember me coming home, throwing my books on the sofa and saying, "You got them all bloody wrong!" Instead of O-level maths, I did "Computer Mode 3", which was for real `divs'. I spent most of my time colouring flow charts. I got seven O-levels.

Fangs Ain't What They Used To Be? By the time of my O-levels, it was clear that I was going to be an actress. My cousin took me to a drama festival and I did a speech from Chicken Soup With Barley by Arnold Wesker. I won the Adult section of the competition. In the school drama group, I was taller than most of the boys and in the Dracula Spectacular, I played Dracula.

Log rhythms? I did A-levels in English, Art and General Studies. OA Drama had just started and I got an A, which counted as an A-Level. I wanted to try for RADA but my teacher said it was best to have a degree behind you so that you could go on to teacher training if a career in acting didn't work out. Dartington College of Art had a four-year course. Academically I was very average and got a 2.2. Of the twenty students in our year, only four of us were straight out of school; the eldest was in his fifties. It might have helped if I hadn't gone straight from school. We had to keep a log-book of what we learnt, and this was assessed. I would usually write, "Today we did............".

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