Julie is an actress and former ABC contract artist. She was a great children’s favourite on both Play School (1964 – 1978) and Play Away (1971 – 1979) and is remembered for her zany appearances. She has always been a great supporter of the memory and history of Play School. 30 years after her departure from Children’s BBC, she attended the Here’s a House – A Celebration of Play School book launch at BAFTA in 2010 and the 50th anniversary reunion at Riverside Studios in May 2014.

Television credits include: Venus Smith in The Avengers (1962 – 1963); Z Cars (1963); storyteller in Bizzy Lizzy (1967); Rosemary Pilgrim in Girls about Town (1970 – 1971); Cabbages and Kings (BBC One, 1972 and 1974); The Dick Emery Show (1973); All Star Record Breakers (1974 – 1980); Star Turn (1976 – 1977); Holby City (BBC One, 2001).

Julie provided vocals for the BBC Schools programme Look and Read; and presented Not for Women Only and All Kinds of Everything (1982). She also made an appearance as Gloria, servant to Cleopatra in the film Carry on Cleo (1964).


Interview

Paul R. Jackson interviewed Julie for his two Play School books in January 2009, when she was on a visit back to the UK from her home in France.


Tell Us About the Early Days of Your Career

“I was born Julie Bullas and became a nurse at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and auditioned for and appeared in the ITV North region talent show from Manchester called Bid for Fame. I did singing and impressions, including one of former radio Goon and singer Harry Secombe. [Julie later worked for him for 12 years as PA/secretary and from 1989 as his personal manager]. I later changed my surname, and as I had an Uncle Stevenson, became Julie Stevens. Although I didn’t win the talent contest, I was given a seven-year contract with ABC Television. During this period I did everything bar newsreading – advertising magazines, a quiz show called For Love or Money with Des O’Connor, a programme about pets with Rolf Harris, and a teenage religious programme Sunday Break where I worked with pianist Bill Le Sage (later a pianist on Play School).

“I also did ABC dramas, announcing and inter-programme links, repertory theatre at the Library Theatre to learn about acting and a modelling course with Lucy Clayton to teach me poise – that failed! In 1962, following a seven-month Equity strike, I lost my contract. I had been earning £15-a-week and would had to have been paid £35-a-week whether I had worked or not – I was therefore deemed too expensive and bye, bye! That was on the Tuesday and on the Friday I auditioned and got six episodes starring as Venus Smith in The Avengers for ABC and was paid considerably more than if I had been under my original contract!”


How Did You Get the Job on Play School?

“I knew Rick Jones from the Library Theatre in Manchester and the Play School producers asked him if he knew anyone to work on the new programme and he told them that he had this ‘nutty friend’ so I was invited in for an audition. I sang, made something out of a box and read two made-up stories about Billy the Beacon and Zoe the Zebra Crossing. I was heavily pregnant with my first child, Daniel, who was born on the 12th April 1964 and so watched the very first programme whilst in the maternity ward of the Hammersmith Hospital. I was due to co-present the third week, but I was not well enough, so didn’t appear until the sixth week. I don’t recall much of that very first week with Rick, apart from the pain I was still encountering from the stitches and the fact that I had to sit on the edge of everything!”

Julie became the ninth presenter of the programme, in its sixth week on air. She made her debut appearance on the 25th May 1964 (edition 25). And so began a 14-year association with the programme.

Whilst interviewing Julie for the book, she told Paul that she was taking her grandson to visit America in March 2009 and would spend a few happy days renewing her friendship with Rick Jones, and would see him in concert. Julie lived in France for many years, and in 2017, she returned to the UK to live near her daughter, Rachel, and grandchildren in Birmingham. Rachel used to be a breakfast presenter for Heart Radio.

Julie was married to fellow Play School presenter John White (1962 – 1975). Her second marriage was to actor/theatre director Michael Hucks (1981 – 2001).

 

Personal Information

Date of Birth: 20th December 1936
Age: 82
Honours: Not Applicable


Online Presence

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Video Clips on the Internet

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Acknowledgements

FEATURE IMAGE:

PICTURED: Julie Stevens (2002). SUPPLIED BY: Paul R. Jackson. COPYRIGHT: Unknown.

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