HOLLYWOOD actress Alice Amter may not be a name on the tip of your lips - but she does play a character in a top-rated American television show that has already built up a sizeable following over here.
The Big Bang Theory - about geeky young scientists sharing a flat - recently transferred to a regular slot on Channel 4.
Last year the show was nominated for an Emmy award and on January 29 it’s up for the Screen Actors Guild prize for best comedy.
Back in the 1970s, Alice was known to quite a few people in Leamington. Only at that time her name was Alice Edwards, and she lived in a children’s home in Warwick New Road.
Her story is not exactly rags to riches. She was never in rags because her children’s home was well-run by Harold and “Perr” Gregg and was a place where her German, single-parent mum used to visit once a fortnight, often bringing in pretty clothes she’d bought at Marks and Spencer.
“And I’m still waiting for the riches,” smiles Alice, who like all professional performers prefers to remain rather vague about her actual age.
Last week she re-visited the area to check out old haunts and spend time with relations living in nearby Northamptonshire.
Alice, who speaks German, French, Spanish and Japanese and seems to be able to mimic just about any accent at the drop of a hat, moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s with the sole purpose of becoming an actress.
She said: “Waitress-work in LA always fits round auditions for parts because everyone wants to be in the films. I started in the theatre and did take a few classes before beginning to get work.”
In The Big Bang Theory she plays Mrs Koothrapali, the mother of Raj, one of the astrophysicists researching at the Calfornia Institute of Technology.
Before that she’d successfully adopted a Texan accent to appear in The Good Girl with Jennifer Aniston - who introduced her to her husband at the time Brad Pitt - as well as playing an assassin in A Man Apart with Vin Diesel.
Alice even caught the last two episodes of E.R. with George Clooney before he quit the series.
But even today, the former pupil of Milverton Junior and Infant School has not entirely forgotten the stigma of living in care up until the age of nine.
She said: “My late mother, Erna, was German by birth and came to this country when she married an Englishman. Years after the marriage broke down she met my father - although I’m not actually sure whether he ever knew of my existence.
“Because my mother had to go out to work I was first taken in to a children’s home in Birmingham and then came to Leamington at the age of four or five to live with Uncle Harold and Auntie Perr who also had their own daughter, Charlotte.
“I still remember being invited round to schoolfriends’ houses and the embarrassment of their parents asking what my father did for a living. I still still see one good friend mouthing the words: ‘she’s in the Home...’”
Despite her difficult start, Alice was eventual able to move back to live with her mother and her academic ability led to her doing a degree at Wolverhampton University, part of which involved spending a year in Berlin.
After graduating she most of the early 1990s in Japan working as an English teacher before taking the calculated risk of heading for California.
When she flies back to LA next week it will be in good time for the “pilot season” when auditions are held for all the prospective new television shows.
She said: “My instinct told me The Big Bang Theory was going to be good and that I had to get a part. But it’s only a small role and so I’m hoping there might be something bigger for me coming up in 2012.”