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Sue's role: as easy as falling off a horse

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1979-08-31 Telegraph.jpg

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WHEN a girl gallops bareback across our TV screen in an advertisement, or an actress gets thrown downstairs in a thriller, or some strange intergalactic monster disintegrates before your eyes in "Dr Who," it's quite likely you will have, seen the same person in all three roles.

Sue Crosland, 31, is one of the top three in a small elite of British stunt women and is in great demand. Her last notable appearances were flying in "Superman" and some side-saddle riding for Francesca Annis in the television series "Lillie."

Right now she is feeling somewhat cross with the Spanish television authorities. who have banned a jeans advertisement in which she leaps from a galloping horse on to a moving train, because they feel youngsters might copy such a dangerous act.

Not that all stunts are particularly dangerous. There is, says Sue, a great deal of preparation for each one and. of course, there are a few tricks of the trade: "If you are falling from a height you land on 'boxes'—ordinary folded cardboard boxes on top of thick matresses, and if the fall is from a horse you know exactly where it will happen and the ground is well prepared.

"If you are in a car which blows up, you wear asbestos cloth padding. and if you are supposed to be on fire. generally that is done with gas-jets through your clothes."

Stunt artists usually wear padding but this. says Sue, is where women are at a disadvantage. "Men generally wear normal clothes, but I always seem to have to wear the most stupid clothes for stunts, like a bikini or a flimsy skirt." Occasionally the danger results in an accident. Once she had to fall from a horse wearing a delicate Twenties-style dress and shoes. and her heel caught in the stirrup so she missed the prepared ground and landed on gravel.

Like other stunt artists, Sue has specialities—in her case stunt riding and driving. "Lately I've been much in demand for stair falls."

Sue is not the big strong woman one might expect a stunt girl to be—she is 5ft 5in tall and very slim-but extremely fit. "There is no point in having bulging muscles," she says. " You need to be actress-shaped, so you can do doubles."

She began doing stunt-work because, she says, " I was honestly bored with doing client relations for an employment agency. I had a friend who was a stunt man and who got me my first job, wearing a nasty Latex monster mask on 'Dr Who'."

Since then, she has never been bored. "Each stunt is different and therefore a challenge." But she has been scared, " especially when fighting at the edge of a 250ft cliff on icy grass — heights aren't my speciality." All stunts do involve a risk. but it can be minimised by good preparation which is, she says, where the professionals wore. She also checks all safety precautions herself.

As a calm contrast to this action-parked life, Sue's home is the picture of serenity. She shares a farm cottage in the Sussex Weald with her mushroom-marketer husband, and her main Interests are breeding ducks and showing her English setter dogs,

Sue has joined the local Women's Institute and has just started a carpet-cleaning business in the area. " Being realistic, I can't hope to go on stunting much after 40 and it will be useful to have something to fall back on then."


ABOVE Sue Crosland keeping fit at her farm cottage in Sussex

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  • APA 6th ed.: Groom, Avril (1979-08-31). Sue's role: as easy as falling off a horse. The Daily Telegraph p. 13.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Groom, Avril. "Sue's role: as easy as falling off a horse." The Daily Telegraph [add city] 1979-08-31, 13. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Groom, Avril. "Sue's role: as easy as falling off a horse." The Daily Telegraph, edition, sec., 1979-08-31
  • Turabian: Groom, Avril. "Sue's role: as easy as falling off a horse." The Daily Telegraph, 1979-08-31, section, 13 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Sue's role: as easy as falling off a horse | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Sue%27s_role:_as_easy_as_falling_off_a_horse | work=The Daily Telegraph | pages=13 | date=1979-08-31 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=28 September 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Sue's role: as easy as falling off a horse | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Sue%27s_role:_as_easy_as_falling_off_a_horse | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=28 September 2023}}</ref>