THE voice, low pitched and husky, was instantly familiar. But the greeting wasn't.

"Are you alright to talk to me while I'm in the bath? I'll try not to splash."

Then there are fits of giggles at either end of the phone as we both break up laughing. Well have you tried completing your interview before the water gets cold?

Meet Juliette Kaplan, alias Pearl the no-nonsense wife of downtrodden Howard in the much-loved, long running TV comedy, Last Of The Summer Wine, and a great comic, even on the phone.

I'd called to check out a tip I'd been given. Was it true that stern-faced Pearl, she of the beret, the granny specs and sensible shoes (matching haircut obviously not optional) was to reveal all - in a manner of speaking?

True indeed. Soon you'll have the chance to meet Juliette, offering Pearls of wisdom on why that woman treats that man like she does.

I can hear sympathetic wives (and their husbands) taking sides already. But wait until you've heard Pearl's side of the story.

So what prompted Juliette, who has been playing Pearl for more than 20 years, to try and give us a different take on the woman whose treatment of Howard, the heart-throb in a tatty cardi, has us all wincing weekly on Sundays.

The urge to come clean and reveal all about Pearl started on a cruise.

"Every so often I do cruises where I talk about Summer Wine and about Pearl. I call it `Confessions of a wino.'

Then she hastily confesses: "It's a phrase first coined by Michael Aldridge - and I pinched it.

"I talk about the show and I also demonstrate how I put on the make up. I turn myself into Pearl as well as talking about it."

Then came another idea. Wouldn't it be good to have a short piece of theatre to do to complete the show? And the man to write it - who else but Summer Wine's creator, Roy Clarke.

Can't believe it? It sounds like Juliette can't quite believe it either.

She's still reeling from the shock of having dared to ask Roy Clarke if he'd do it.

Now she takes a sanguine view. "How did I get him to do it? It's called bare-faced cheek. I thought the worst thing he could do was to say no.

So Juliette called him, asked, and waited. "There was a sharp intake of breath and he said yes. He very kindly wrote me a short piece."

But it seemed the Pearl-like tenacity was taking over. Juliette wasn't finished yet. "I thought, why confine it to the cruises. Why not tour it. I contacted him again and said, Excuse me. What do you think of this idea?"

Fortunately, Roy Clarke was happy to say yes which is why, at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in late March, you'll be able to see one of the stars of our most enduring comedy series, in her own, one-woman show.

Juliette is now itching to bring Just Pearl to the LBT.

John Hobbs, famed for Butterflies and It Ain't Half Hot Mum and many other hit shows, will direct.

"I'm a very lucky lady," says Juliette. "I think it's one of the best pieces I've ever read. It's the whole of humanity - taking this woman who is a battleaxe and showing another side to her.

"That gives me scope as an actress and rounds the character off. I'm delighted with it."

Juliette is keen to do the show here in Huddersfield, part of a region she feels very much at home in. "Well I spend about six months of the year here."

There's a rightness about it which pleases this skilled comedy actress. It continues a pattern set by what happened when she first played the character with which she is now so firmly associated.

Juliette, who these days lives in Westgate-on-Sea, first played the strait-laced character in a stage version of the TV comedy hit back in the Eighties.

"The character was called Pearl, which was my mother's name, and the show was in Bournemouth, which is my home town. Life is strange, but you just have to go with it sometimes."

And these days, it seems, Juliette has decided to follow that advice even more.

"I'm 60 now. I've grown up. I thought, what can anybody do to me now? It's so liberating."

As Mr Clarke well knows. It was that new mood of liberation that made Juliette pick up the phone and make the call which has given her her very own, one-woman show. And she couldn't be more excited.

* See another side of one of your TV comedy favourites in Just Pearl at the LBT's Cellar Theatre on March 27.