Anglia’s dancing ‘Senorita’ 

8 February 2018

From the TVTimes Anglia for 10-16 December 1966

The girl drew herself to her full 5ft. 3in. height, put on the highest heels she could get — and went along to an audition for London Palladium chorus girls.

Joan Shenton, now 23, did not get the job. Which is probably just as well or About Anglia might have been deprived of its newest interviewer.

Telling the story of the failed audition, Joan said: “Eight of us had to do a routine — with me on the end of the line trying to look twice as tall as I am. We all failed, so we went across the road, filled ourselves with rich cakes and sobbed into our coffee.

“Anyway, even if my dancing career finished before it started, I still keep my dancing up to keep in trim.”

Joan has the deep brown eyes of her Chilean mother, the fair complexion and hair of her English father, a Suffolk man. Up to now her life has been interwoven with South America.

“My father is in oil,” she said. “I was born in the Atacama desert of Chile, one of the most barren places on earth — but there is an oil depot there.”

At seven, she went to school in Santiago and vaguely remembers the house trembling during a mild earthquake.

There is an unflappability about Joan that would take more than an earthquake to upset. Her attitude is one of unruffled calm and the steady look of those brown eyes is a boost to any nervous person appearing in front of the TV cameras.

Oil men travel, and Joan’s family moved with father. By the time she was nine, she was at school in Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Next stop was Guatemala and an American co-educational school. “It was a hoot,” she said. “I was a member of the ‘traffic squad’ and wore a yellow armband. If the kids didn’t behave in the corridors I gave them a traffic ticket and they were punished by the squad.

“I also confiscated bubble gum and comics from school buses. I didn’t learn much, but I had a wonderful time.”

Finally, aged 14, she came to Britain to complete her education at a school near Guildford, Surrey. For Joan, it was the nearest thing to permanence.

Joan is flat hunting for ‘just room for me and my guitar’

She stayed six years and then went to St. Anne’s, Oxford, to read modern languages.

While at Oxford she took a vacation job as governess to Princess Daphne, then 12, and Princess Esmeralda, then six, daughters of ex-King Leopold of Belgium.

Joan travelled with the family to their golfing chateau in the Ardennes and the hunting lodge in Austria.

After Oxford, she took a job as a waitress just to fit in her ballet lessons. “It lasted a fortnight,” she said.

“I danced half the day and walked round tables half the night. If I had kept it up I would have finished with splayed feet.”

Then she went into radio and a job as an assistant on a Latin American news programme. She moved to the Central Office of Information doing a weekly TV film of Latin American news. She introduced it under the name of Alicia de Londres – Alice of London.

“Nobody knew me in Britain,” she said. “But, when I visited Buenos Aires and Santiago, everyone knew me as Alicia.”

Now she has joined About Anglia, Joan is flat hunting. “Latin American decor not necessary,” she said. “Just room for me and my guitar.”

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