Saturday 24 August 2019

A beginning full of drama

As Bosco Hogan first kissed Leslie Lalor, his stomach flipped -- and maybe not just with excitement, learns Andrea Smith

When we are smitten with someone, we usually do our best to make an impression on them, and although it happened many years ago in Paris, Leslie Lalor will certainly never forget the first time her husband Bosco Hogan kissed her.

Leslie, then 22, was part of a group of Abbey players who were in the French capital for a joint production of Borstal Boy and She Stoops to Conquer. Due to the large number of actors required, Bosco, then 20 and a former member of the company, had been seconded from the Radio Eireann Rep. The cast and crew were all on a night out together, where a lot of alcohol had been consumed, and Leslie was having an argument with someone else.

"I was getting fed up with this other person, so I turned around and started being terribly nice to Bosco," she recalls. "Then he leaned over and, for no apparent reason, kissed me, which I thought was awfully nice, until he turned away and threw up."

After this inauspicious start, Bosco apologised profusely to Leslie, who couldn't decide whether to accept his apology, or be insulted that he was apologising for kissing her. They started dating, but in the best dramatic tradition, the course of true love didn't run smoothly initially.

"We had rows, and we broke up and went out with other people, and then got back together again and all that kind of thing," says the witty Leslie. "And then we decided to get married, so I think our dramatic beginning put manners on us and we went a very quiet route there."

Leslie and Bosco would strike you as a no-nonsense type of couple, and neither can remember if there was an actual proposal. None the less they found themselves getting married in Leslie's hometown of Sandyford, and although Bosco had been promised the night off from Tom Murphy's The White House at the Abbey, he ended up having to go to work as they were unable to replace him.

"I went down afterwards and it was grand because [the cast] were all our friends and we had quite a nice party," says Leslie, who trained at the Abbey. "What has made our marriage work is that although we've had our ups and downs, Bosco is the person I always want to discuss things with. The bottom line is that he's my best friend."

Leslie and Bosco went to live in London for four years, as he had secured work with the BBC. Leslie was kept busy working too, but chose to park her acting career once their children Hugh, 29, Daragh, 26, and Niamh, 23, were born.

"When we made the decision to increase the population, I accepted that one of us would have to be there, otherwise there would be no point in having the little brats," she

jokes. "It wasn't a sacrifice, because I wanted to do it."

While Hugh is studying law, and Daragh is a musician, Niamh is following in her parents' acting footsteps. She studied drama and film studies at Trinity, and has had a few small parts to date.

On her return to Dublin, Leslie began a teaching career in the Gaiety School of Acting, and for the past 16 years has written and directed plays for children in schools in Dublin. At the moment, she is focused on writing a play that she hopes will go to Edinburgh.

She is also not a lady to be messed with, given that she holds a fourth-degree black belt in shotokan karate, and, indeed, Bosco is the odd man out, as all of the children also hold black belts.

"What I love about Leslie is her feistiness and her spirit, which is absolutely unquenchable," he says, in his gorgeously rich voice. "When we're having an argument, it's the worst thing in the world, but for life in general, it's absolutely fantastic. She'll never take no for an answer, and will fight for anyone who's being oppressed in any kind of way, minor or otherwise. And she's a fantastic mother, and got all of our children through potential bad times, and spotted trouble coming when I wouldn't have."

Leslie's interest in martial arts began when someone snatched her bag one dark night 18 years ago, and she decided to learn to defend herself. She taught self-defence to schoolgirls prior to the classes being axed, due to the recession, and also teaches it every Monday evening at 8pm in Christ Church Hall in Rathgar.

Bosco has appeared in many major theatre, film, radio and TV productions, with his film work including King Arthur, Evelyn and In the Name of the Father.

His TV work includes Ballykissangel and The Tudors, and he is working on the new series The Borgias, directed by Neil Jordan. He will shortly be playing the bishop in John B Keane's play The Field at the Olympia, and says that it is shaping up to be an extremely good production with a brilliant cast. Brian Dennehy is playing the iconic role of 'The Bull' McCabe, in a play inspired by the 1959 murder of bachelor farmer Moss Moore.

For his two seasons in The Tudors, Bosco played John Fisher, Archbishop of Rochester, who came to a predictably sticky end. He was beheaded and his head was put on a stake. For this purpose, a cast was made of Bosco's head, which he managed to persuade the studio to let him keep afterwards. Now that he is in possession of an exact replica of his head, he says he is often tempted to stick it on top of the bins to see how the refuse collectors would react.

"Or he was going to put it in the garden at Hallowe'en, and tell people that this was what happened to the last people who called," laughs Leslie.

John B. Keane's 'The Field' runs from Thursday to February 12 at Olympia Theatre, Dublin (bookings 0818 719 330) and the INEC, Killarney, from February 15 to 17 (bookings 064 667 1555).

To contact Leslie about her martial arts courses, email

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