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Daily Mail: Weekend: Sat 3rd April 1999

With thanks to Jennifer Wilson and Brian Peck for sharing it with this website.

The Brothers,an everyday tale of road-haulage folk, attracted 11 million viewers a week during it’s run from 1972 until 1976. In the first of an occasional series on actors who became firm friends on set, Jean Anderson and Jennifer Wilson tells ISLA WHITCROFT how they bridged their 30-year age gap to become soul mates.


In a long television and film career, Jean Anderson has appeared in Tenko and The Railway Children. Now 91, and a widow, she lives alone in south London

“Jennifer and I were probably the first people to be cast in The Brothers and we stayed with it right until the end. The secret of the show was that it was so well written – that and the fact there was something in it to appeal to every age group and section of society. I still get taxi drivers chatting to me about the show.The first episode featured the reading of my dead husband’s will, when my family was told that Jennifer’s character was his mistress who had had an illegitimate daughter by him. Not only that, but he had also left her a share in the business.I think it was one of the best opening episodes in TV history and people were hooked from that moment on.The Brothers was shot in Birmingham and we were up there for two days every fortnight, rehearsing during the day and filming during the evening, staying overnight in a hotel. On the show Jennifer and I were sworn enemies,so everytime we went out for a drink after work,people would stare at us expecting us to start brawling. We enjoyed all the attention – it was a bit of a hoot.I didn’t know Jennifer before The Brothers,although I had worked with her husband Brian Peck in a play, but we hit it off immediately. We both loved acting and we had much the same sense of humour – we enjoyed a tipple and revelled in the family atmosphere of the show. It was such fun to do,to be with a young cast and crew.After being together for a while we started to act like a real family – Robin Chadwick, who played my youngest son in the show, would have moods in real life and I had to mother him out of them.When he got married in real life his mother was in New Zealand so I was his ‘mother’ at his wedding.And when Patrick O’Connell got bored with playing my eldest son and ran off to Amsterdam, where he wouldn’t talk to his wife or the TV people. I rang him and persuaded him to come back.

Jenny and I were drawn together by the amazing hysteria which surrounded the show.It was bad enough in the UK, but in places like Sweden and Israel, where it had been shown, we were treated like The Beatles and it all became rather unreal. We had to be escorted everywhere by bodyguards and often our cars would be rocked by crowds who just wanted to touch us. Once, when we were in Israel,Jennifer and I were desperate to see the Wailing Wall. Our security guard said that would be fine, if we dressed up in shawls and covered our faces. However, as we were walking towards the Wall, this old lady turned round, took one look at me and screamed:“Mother, mother”. Within seconds the crowds were crushing us. Luckily, security got us out,but we never did see the Wailing Wall. In Sweden, we performed on a double bill with Abba at another outdoor concert and we also made a record in Hollandwhich won a gold disc – I still have it in my lavatory.After the show ended, Jennifer and I could have gone our separate ways, but we had been through so much together that we simply had to stay in touch. One of the many things I admire about her is that she is such a giver – she is totally generous and she and Brian used to give fantastic parties. Jenny and Brian went to live in Francein 1989 and I visited her there twice.Now she is back in Britain, she comes up to my flat in Londonor we got a meal and chat – we natter all night.Even though Jenny is a few years younger than me, we have never had a mother/daughter relationship. We are equals – two people who have known each other for many years and who share a lot of happy memories."


Jennifer Wilson appeared in Dixon of Dock Green and Softly, Softly. Now aged 61, she lives in Bexhill-on-Sea with her actor husband Brian Peck.

“The thing which threw Jean and I together on the set was that we were both older than the rest of the cast and were more experienced actors. My mother and I didn’t see a lot of each other and although Jean didn’t step into that role, she did give me lots of good advice and would clalm me down if I got cross and upset about something. Even after 30 years, I am still rushing madly around and she is still saying “Wait, think.” Jean and I had some fantastic times filming The Brothers.After we finished at 10pm, we would go for a few drinks and review the scenes we had just done. We were great ones for a tipple – and still are. Jean likes whisky and I prefer vodka. We would sit and have a giggle and a chat. Jean and I went on holiday once to Gozo, but I had to break off in the middle to go to Gothenburg. When my husband Brian and I got back to Gozo, we discovered that Willy Brandt, the German Chancellor,was staying in a villa nearby and that he had invited us for a drink. We were sitting in a room in the villa and we all got a bit tight and I sat on his lap and flirted like mad. He’d just resigned over a spy scandal and I said: “You poor thing,that nasty spy,” and everyone fell about laughing. Willy suddenly said: “Come on,I’m putting you to bed.” We were all aghast at that, especially my husband,but once we’d left the room together I made sure I left Willy by the pool. The next morning, Jean had to go back to the UK early and she saw Willy at the airport inspecting some troops. He gave her a huge wink and that was that – we never saw him again.

The great thing about Jean is her very dry sense of humour. She is a tough old bird, too. Once, when we were in Sweden, her car was nearly tipped over by some fans, but she didn’t panic. They were amazing times. We visited Israelat the height of the PLO campaign and the police were terrified that they would take a pop at us. We had to have armed guards. One of my most enduring memories of Jean was when we were in a studio in Stockholmand we were so exhausted we put our coats down on a concrete floor and fell asleep with people walking over us. After all these years as friends we have a kind of telepathy – I might be thinking of her and she will call me that minute. We are both letter writers and when I was in France Jean was terribly good at keeping me up to date with all the industry gossip. When I came back to live here at Christmas and took up acting again, Jean encouraged and supported me all the way. I love her very much – she has been a part of my life for a long time.The Brothers was such an extraordinary experience that we didn’t want to let it go when it finished. Our relationship was like a marriage, we worked at it. I do worry about her.I worry that she is 91 now and she has made it clear that she wouldn’t want to spend her last years fighting an illness and that’s when it hit me – I have to face up to the fact that my dear friend won’t be here forever.”

Thanks go to the Potteries Prydonians - Steve Worman and Paul Wood - for their help, Ron Brunwin for supplying artwork and Garry Jones for being a regular stalwart of the news section.
Extra special thanks go to the mighty Colin Baker himself for casting his mind back and helping catalogue his career.

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