Tuesday, 30th January 2007
Mum's the word for Superstar Antony
Enid DunnWHEN Coronation Street's Antony Cotton was crowned this year's Soapstar Superstar it was his showmanship as much as his voice that won the nation's hearts.
Antony played it for laughs, but could be serious when needed. He was sometimes a bit bolshy with the judges, yet at the same time displayed a vulnerability that the viewers warmed to. We love him as knicker stitcher Sean Tully, but Soapstar revealed he is an all-round talent - a testament both to his hard work and to his parents, Enid and Paul, who have nurtured his talent from an early age and were at the studio every night cheering him on.
"It's as if all the hard work that Antony's put in and that we've put in came to fruition," smiles mum, actress, Enid Dunn - Bury-raised Antony took her maiden name, Cotton as his stage name because there was already an Antony Dunn in actors' union, Equity.
"All that time I spent sat in the car waiting for him to come out from one dancing or acting class to whizz him off to another has been worthwhile."
Antony joined Oldham Theatre workshop when he was 11 and that same year filmed his first TV commercial. Soon after he became a regular on Saturday morning children's TV show, Up 2 U with Anthea Turner and Jenny Powell and while still at school won roles at Manchester's Palace Theatre and Opera House in 15 Streets and The Hobbit as well as appearing in numerous productions at Oldham Coliseum.
"I saw in Antony from a young age what was never brought out in me," explains Enid, who developed her own acting talent much later in life. "I used to think how wonderful it was that he had such encouraging English and drama teachers. When I was a little girl the education system was, sit down and shut up - that's all I ever got. I must've been a very chatty child, but instead of bringing out the best in me school squashed it good and proper. I can remember reading a poem I'd learned off by heart and I hadn't finished when the teacher said, `Right, that's enough sit down'."
Fortunately, that didn't dampen Enid's spirit. The chatty and excitable girl hasn't left her and, at 62, she is still open to any new challenges.
"I firmly believe if you set your mind to do something and stick at it you can be anything," she says. "My mum had me when she was 47 - that's quite something. My brother was 21 and she had no children in between. I didn't have a name for two weeks because they'd thought I was a tumour until almost the last minute.
"People are always saying things about older parents, but my parents were marvellous and if my mum hadn't had me at 47 I wouldn't have had Antony and Andrew. You never know where things will lead.
"That's the way I brought my children up - if they'd wanted to be Prime Minister I would've said, `right let's go for it'. I've always encouraged them and they've never done anything by halves.
"Antony's never lost his focus and that's something I've learned from him. If I go for auditions and I'm rejected, I've learned from Antony that you don't give up, you keep going. When someone knocks you down you bounce up again otherwise you've got to leave it - it's not for you."
Enid is a haute couture seamstress by trade and still uses her skills to make almost all of her own clothes. However, aged 50 she decided to take a change of career and follow her dream to become an actor.
"I hit the big 50 and I thought, `It's my time now, what do I want to do?' I did always want to act and I thought I'm going to have a go."
Enid has now been acting professionally for seven years. Her roles include parts in Cutting It, Coronation Street and Mersey Beat, but she will be most recognised as Joyce behind the bar in the second series of Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights.
"Filming Phoenix Nights, working with the whole crew and obviously Peter Kay, was just like being paid to have a laugh," she remembers. "I couldn't believe I was being paid for such fun, it was a wonderful experience."
More recently Enid has filmed a small part in new Kay Mellor drama, The Chase, and if Antony's proposed chat show comes off he's promised her a slot as a roving reporter, providing a voice on the streets.
"I'm up for that," she laughs. "I think it's fab. I love talking to people. I'd just be interviewing ordinary people, of course, like a lady behind the cheese counter in Tesco or someone like that."
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