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British actress Amanda Redman, 53, star of At Home With The Braithwaites and currently playing the role of Sandra Pullman in BBC's series New Tricks, tells us about surviving as a struggling student on just £1 a day…
Can you tell us about a time in your life when you had to survive on a really small budget? Where did you live? What was your job? What did you do for entertainment? What/where did you eat?
When I was at Bristol Old Vic drama school, my father was out of work through illness so I sent my living grant back to my mother and brother to survive. It left me with £1 per day for food. I was sharing digs in Bristol and did very little in the way of entertainment as I worked every night, front of house, at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre. I suppose, being drama students, we made our own entertainment.
At the weekend I worked in various bars and with the little extra money I earned, I would treat myself to a bottle of really cheap white wine.
I mostly ate what was available from the drama school cafeteria, with people taking pity on poor students. Nothing ever went to waste and even today I still love cold curry from the night before.
What kind of tricks did you pull for making your money go further?
Not much you can do when you have so little to start with. We mostly relied on the generosity of our fellow students as we were all in the same situation. Mainly you learn how to cook cheap meals at home as eating out was out of the question. It's amazing how you can make dishes with potatoes and pasta that go a long way.
Have any of those experiences stayed with you today?
It's the sort of experience that stays with you forever. Most actors have long periods out of work and learn how to be frugal. I would say that it taught me not to be wasteful and I'm still very good at budgeting to this day.
Friday, 7th January 2011