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Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the actress Brenda Blethyn. Brenda Blethyn is one of our most versatile and talented actresses with film credits that include Secrets and Lies, Little Voice, Saving Grace and, now, Pride and Prejudice and has won a host of awards for her film and stage work. But she fell into acting by default. Born Brenda Bottle, the youngest of nine children, she had no burning desire to take to the stage. She was working as a secretary for British Rail when a friend had to pull out of an amateur-dramatic production and Brenda stood in as a favour. She discovered she loved it and went on to become the first actress to rise through the ranks of the National Theatre to play leading roles.

She came to the nation's attention in 1996 playing the careworn Cynthia Purley in Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies. Brenda Blethyn won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a Best Actress award at Cannes for her portrayal of a neglected woman coming to terms with the fact that the daughter she