Coming Up for the Third Time is a lively theatre memoir, which also contains a vivid
account of post-war social history, including women’s lives in the 1960s before feminism
had arrived, and the bizarre events sparked off by the author’s tangled love life.
It is written in the third person.
The tale of Sandra Billington’s turbulent life begins as a child, escaping from a
repressed 1950s suburban family by performing in BBC radio dramas: then as a young
woman discovering the reality of a 1960s theatre career in a profession surrounded
by predatory men.
She turns this around through a RADA scholarship, where she studies with Linda Thorson,
Angela Scoular, and Peter Sproule. And during these years comes the beginning of
an extraordinary love affair. Her life looks to be completely fulfilled, beyond her
imaginings both professionally and personally, when death and other disasters intervene.
She is abruptly wrenched off her path into tangled, uncharted forest, where, to earn
a living, she has no choice but to hack her way through. Health becomes a problem
but she succeeds as an academic and her published books result in her being made
a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Before leaving London to study at Cambridge University, she works with Mike Leigh
in his first film: the much-acclaimed Bleak Moments, with Anne Raitt and Mike Bradwell.
She also works at the Royal Court with Jane Howell and Nicholas Wright. At Cambridge
her acting life flourishes, with lead roles, working with Richard Cottrell, Griff
Rhys Jones, Stephen Pimlott, Nicholas Hytner, Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod, and
Yevgeni Yevtushenko. But, try as she might, the return to a professional theatre
career remains blocked.
“Fascinating, outrageous, nostalgic, lovely and deeply moving.” Mike Leigh