Girl behind the news
Meet the woman who sells dresses by day and reads the local ATV news by night in 1956
PATRICIA COX has two jobs. By day she is a model and salesgirl. In the evening she is ATV’s Midlands newscaster.
And her one regret is that her double shift makes it impossible for her to see Shakespeare at the Stratford Memorial Theatre. For five evenings a week she reads the news from 5.55 to 6 o’clock.
“It’s almost 6.30 by the time my make-up is removed,” she says. “The Memorial Theatre performance begins at 7.30 and I just can’t make it by bus.”
I don’t think it will be long before she has a car — and then she’ll be able to go again.
Last year she went to the Memorial Theatre nearly 50 times and saw each play six times. In 1951 she saw each play in the historic cycle seven times.
Her ambitions are to do more TV work and to act at the Memorial Theatre.
Patricia, who is 25, was auditioned, with scores of other girls for Midlands newscaster at the beginning of May. Producer Ned Sherrin liked her immediately. So did ATV’s Midlands controller Philip Dorte. A private transmission was piped to Val Parnell, in London. Patricia was called for a further test and given a contract.
Apart from a two-week holiday she has been seen every week-day since.
It’s a long day for Patricia. She arrives at the gown-shop in a suburb of Birmingham at 9 o’clock each morning. She models and sells gowns till after 4, when she leaves by taxi for the television theatre at Aston. She reaches the theatre at 4.40, is made up, and runs through the news with Sherrin and Raymond Roden, the man who scripts it for TV. She uses the intervening time before 5.55 to memorise as much as possible of the script.
Her calm, sympathetic approach to the news has won her many admirers. She receives a lot of fan mail and people recognise her in the street.
“I try to be as personal as possible when reading human interest stories,” she says. “I find the best way of putting anything over is to forget the camera and technicians and imagine I am talking to mother at home.”
Though newscasting was Patricia’s first experience of television, she has broadcast in several plays. She set out to be an actress while at Wolverhampton Art School and studied for 18 months with an elocutionist. She won the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art’s gold medal for elocution.
Then she took a drama course at Birmingham Theatre School and appeared in many plays. No wonder the theatre — and music — are her hobbies.
She likes to spend her weekends in the country. Usually this means a trip to the Cotswolds — more often than not to Stratford-on-Avon. Just to look at the Memorial Theatre.