Where stars of ITV sitcom Watching are now – from quitting acting to sad deaths – Liverpool Echo


One of the actors was the original Baldrick in the classic TV comedy Blackadder while others disappeared from the limelight altogether
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Merseyside sitcom Watching was such a hit it ran for six years and regularly attracted 13 million viewers.
The show made by Granada Television which aired on ITV, followed the complicated and unlikely romance between smart mouthed Brenda from Liverpool and Malcolm, who hailed from Meols, the "posh" part of Merseyside. The title refers both the habit of 'people watching' enjoyed by Brenda (played by Emma Wray) and her sister Pamela (played by Lisa Tarbuck) as well as Malcolm's (Paul Brown) love of bird watching.
The show became a huge hit and helped launch the acting careers of many of the cast, some of whom went on to star in soaps such as EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Some of the other actors were veterans of the screen and stage who are sadly no longer with us.
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There was also an off-screen romance between two of the co-stars and one actress from the show achieved Hollywood fame, while another turned their back on showbiz. The series ran for 56 30-minute episodes over 7 series, including the two 60-minute special extended episodes.
Brenda and Malcolm finally married each other in the final episode, "Knotting", which was broadcast on April 4, 1993. In honour of this classic bit of 1980s/1990s TV, we took a look at where the stars of the show are now – and what they’ve achieved in their acting careers since.
The Staffordshire-born actor got his big break as the lead role as birdwatcher Malcolm. Paul, now 64, has gone on to have a successful TV career and appeared in popular shows including Coronation Street, Casualty, Holby City, Endeavour and Father Brown.
In Corrie he starred as Roy Cropper’s brother and has appeared in a number of dramas including A Confession, alongside Martin Freeman, and also in Bancroft. A fun fact is that Paul starred alongside Rowan Atkinson as the original Baldrick in the pilot episode of Blackadder and also had a cameo in the hit film The Damned United, starring Hollywood actor Michael Sheen.
Birkenhead-born Emma was a perfect hit for the Merseyside-based show, for which she sang the memorable theme tune “What Does He See in Me?”. Recognisable as the loud character Brenda, she was forced to ride in Malcolm’s sidecar of his Norton motorbike on his comical birdwatching trips.
And it was her way of rubbing up Malcolm’s domineering mother, Marjorie, played by Patsy Byrne. Emma also played a major role in Yorkshire Television’s Stay Lucky, but perhaps surprisingly packed up acting in 1999 after her last role as Donna in the TV series My Wonderful Life, and is now reportedly a nanny.
Emma, 57, dated Watching co-star – and future EastEnders stalwart – Perry Fenwick and enjoyed success with roles in well-known shows Boon and Minder during her 12-year acting career.
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Famously known as the daughter of Liverpool comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, Liza trained at the National Youth Theatre and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Her big break came in Watching when she played Brenda’s sister, before going on to star as the character Angie in the 1998 Falklands War drama Tumbledown alongside Hollywood A-lister Colin Firth.
Later the actress played the title role in BBC One comedy-drama Linda Green and guest starred in Ricky Gervais’ hit comedy series Extras. The 57-year-old has a string of acting credits to her names, which includes roles in shows French and Saunders, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Saxondale, Bleak House, Bonkers and Doctor Who.
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Liza presented the fashion programme She’s Gotta Have It and Sky One’s Blockbusters, as well as having been a guest presenter on the BBC show Have I Got News for You, and The Big Breakfast with Johnny Vaughan, Sara Cox and Richard Bacon, but she famously quit the hit Channel 4 show after just a year in the job.
As well as a long list of TV jobs, Liza has also found success with her Saturday evening show on BBC Radio 2 and has narrated the Channel 4 dieting show Supersize vs Superskinny since 2008.
London-born Perry also made his TV breakthrough in the show, before going to land the role as iconic role of Billy Mitchell in BBC hit soap EastEnders. The 59-year-old has played the character in Albert Square ever since 1998 having originally having only been meant to be a guest character.
Perry also appeared in TV shows Inspector Morse, comedy The Brittas Empire, Minder, On The Up, The Thin Blue Line and legendary detective show Bergerac, starring John Nettles. He dated Watching co-star Emma Wray and was famously married to former Coronation Street star Angela Lonsdale.
The couple split in 2010 after five years of marriage. Perry has numerous film credits to his name, including Empire State, The Winslow Boy and Mona Lisa.
But it is his role as Billy Mitchell, which has now played for over two decades, which most TV fans will know him for.
Many TV fans will know Patsy for her role as Nursie in the hit comedy Blackadder. But it was as Malcolm’s domineering mother Mrs Stoneway where Patsy really came into her own.
Trained at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Patsy sadly died aged 80 in 2014. She had a decorated TV and film career which included roles in Inspector Morse, 2point4 and Children, Les Miserables, David Copperfield and Stealing Heaven to list a few.
She also starred in hit ITV series Heartbeat and in an impressive acting career which spanned over three decades.
The actor came within a whisker of starring in hit comedy Blackadder, but the pilot wasn’t broadcast and fellow actor Tony Robinson famously landed the role of iconic dogsbody Baldrick. But no matter, Philip has since gone to enjoy a successful TV, film and radio career.
His appearances include Waking The Dead, People Like Us, Maxwell, Don’t Tell Father, Midsummer Murders, Foyle’s War and comedy shows including I’m Alan Partridge. He is well-known for his radio work with BBC Radio 4, which includes shows The Art of Deception, The Razor’s Edge, The Yellow Dog and Inspector Cadaver.
A fun fact is made a cameo in the Superman IV film and also landed a credit in the movie Maurice, starring Hollywood big gun Hugh Grant.
John studied acting in Glasgow before landing his break on Watching, appearing in the series during his early career as a budding actor. And now, aged 69, John has enjoyed a distinguished career.
The experienced actor has the unusual feather in his cap of having appeared all three of the big soaps, EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. But he’ll arguably be most remembered for his role as PC Roger Valentine in 229 episodes of the hit ITV police drama The Bill.
He’s also starred in well-known TV shows Casualty, Law and Order UK, WPC 56, Holby City, DCI Banks, Doctor Who, Father Brown and, since 2019, Emmerdale as the character DI Goldberg. John made a cameo in Corrie in 2002 and then a year later plated the character Dougie Slade in six episodes, before a clean sweep of the soaps with his recent appearances in ITV’s Emmerdale.
Ten years after her acting debut in 1968, Elizabeth won a coveted Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for her star performance in Love Letters on Blue Paper. She also received a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1995 film Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman.
The popular actress also starred in box office smash in the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, as her career grew and grew to Hollywood fame. Elizabeth, who died aged 78 in 2008, landed coveted roles in Richard’s Things, Impromptu and Paradise Road, and celebrated a fine TV career which spanned a staggering 50 years.
She appeared in a whole host of well-known shows including Casualty, Heartbeat, Doctor Who, The Royal, Midsomer Murders, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Swiss Toni. Her star-studded funeral was attended by a string to top actor including Peter Vaughan, Jeremy Irons and Robert Hardy.

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