Priscilla John describes casting for All for Love with Frank Finlay

I did All for Love with Frank Finlay and a very young Rupert Graves. All for Love was under the PBS umbrella of several plays. I can’t remember the names of all of them. But All for Love, this one was directed by Rob Knights, who was fantastic. It was produced by Roy Roberts. And the lead, after Frank Finlay, the lead was a young 14-year-old girl. It was set after the First World War. And this young girl goes to the big house to look after this injured soldier, and it’s Frank Finley. And I found this girl, I was sent around the West Country to find the girl, which I did. I had a car, and I went around the West Country. And I rang them up from the middle of Bristol and said, “I’ve found her.” Roy said, “What do you mean? In the middle of Bristol?” 

And how did you find this girl then? 

Well, you see, this is it, isn’t it? It’s hard to find them. I’d gone around all these bloody schools, and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I did shortlist a few, went back and workshopped with some, but none of them had this sort of Edwardian, otherworldly look. And I was waiting in a comprehensive school’s headmistress’s office for an opportunity to go around a couple of classes, and I was staring out at the wall on break. And she was chattering away behind me, and I said, “Hang on a minute. Who’s that girl there with a long braided plait?” And she said, “Oh, yes. She’s very quiet.” So I said, “I definitely want to see her anyway.” I thought she was amazing. And she had the most beautiful soft accent. Well, of course, I think Roy was expecting it to be a hard Bristolian accent, and it wasn’t – it was enchanting. Anyway, she was wonderful. And her name was Deborah Stokes.  She was wonderful. And she and Frank Finlay had a really very special relationship. He was wonderful with her. It was a beautiful film. Rob Knights directed it beautifully. And Rupert Graves, very young, very young. And we’ve remained friends.

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