Pure East End Gold

FORMER EastEnders and The Bill actress Roberta Taylor returns to her east London roots on Monday as a best-selling author. She ll be at Stratford Circus to launch her new book, The Reinvention of Ivy Brown, which hits the shops on Thursday, March 12. It s

FORMER EastEnders and The Bill actress Roberta Taylor returns to her east London roots on Monday as a best-selling author.

She'll be at Stratford Circus to launch her new book, The Reinvention of Ivy Brown, which hits the shops on Thursday, March 12.

It's the follow-up to her 250,000-plus selling debut, Too Many Mothers, her account of growing up in east London and the fascinating women in her family who raised her.

Born in Plaistow, Roberta lived on the Isle of Dogs from the age of six, and has many links to the Newham area.


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Her grandmother features heavily in Too Many Mothers, and Roberta reflects: "Nanny Roberts was always running from landlords over unpaid rent, and consequently my mother lived with her in various houses in Poplar, West Ham, Plaistow and Forest Gate.''

And then there's the intriguing case of her great, great uncle Ernest Bauckham, who also lived in Forest Gate. In September 1935 he murdered his girlfriend by drowning her in the bath, later handing himself into the police.

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Roberta explains: "He died in prison awaiting trial. I'm told it was either war wounds or throat cancer. It's talked about in Too Many Mothers, but I didn't have the time to research it properly because I was still acting full-time in The Bill.''

This time around, Roberta is able to enjoy the whole process of being an author and promoting the book more because she has put that acting career on hold.

She's just returned from Australia, where she launched the book in five cities, as part of the Australian government's Big Book Club.

"With Too Many Mothers I still had this very heavy schedule on The Bill, filming three episodes a week. Now I've left, and my character Gina Gold has retired, it's been much more enjoyable. I was so tired juggling it all last time, I'd turn up for things with my face looking like a duvet.''

While Too Many Mothers was a memoir, The Reinvention of Ivy Brown allows her to tackle fiction. However, there are similarities to her life.

Born in Stepney in the late '40s, one of Roberta's first jobs was as a telephonist in the City. Ivy, meanwhile, is a young typist in an office in Holborn in 1963.

Roberta, who now lives in Vauxhall, points out: "There's a different look to the '60s, a time just before the the so-called swinging sixties, before the sex and fashion explosion that we hear so much about.''

And just like Too Many Mothers, the plaudits are coming in thick and fast. Actress Imelda Staunton says: "The early sixties period is wonderfully evoked while the atmosphere of foreboding makes it a gripping page turner."

Roberta will be talking about The Reinvention of Ivy Brown at Stratford Circus, Theatre Square, Stratford, on Monday at 7pm.Tickets are �5 from 020 7279 1015.

- MATT TROLLOPE

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