I’m very good at reinventing myself and plan a year ahead. It doesn’t always work perfectly – there are things I’ve done purely for money, for instance. But I’m a survivor. I had a tough upbringing – my mother wasn’t an easy person but she had the most amazing drive, which she passed on to me.
In a notoriously fickle industry, I’m having one of the busiest times in my career – at 65! I’m doing two big shows – Are You Being Served? and Benidorm, and until recently Loose Women – it’s all down to the power of reinvention. Even at 65, I still have this massive energy and desire for new experiences. Life certainly doesn’t end at 40, and I hope I’m an inspiration to others.
There’s such an incredible fondness for Are You Being Served? the new special is written by Derren Litten, the man behind Benidorm, and I play Mrs Slocombe. We filmed the pilot in front of a live studio audience. When I said my first “pussy” line there was a huge round of applause!
I’m desperate to do a musical. I started out as a singer when I was six but ended up going to RADA, and in those days they didn’t teach singing. I had this fear until one of my friends, David O’Reilly, who’s in The Book Of Mormon, said I should contact his teacher – he said he’d be absolutely honest about my voice. He said I was singing flat because I was so nervous, but that he could make me good enough to get me on stage. So that’s my new challenge.
A cuddle from my grandchildren – five-year-old Molly and Olly, who’s ten – boosts my mental health. It makes me calm and happy. I absolutely love being a granny as it means I can regress – at the rate I’m going, by the time I’m 75 I’ll be about 15!
I’ve been single since 2001 and it suits me. You’re your own person, in control of your life. The problem is, I’ve now been single too long to accept anyone else. That’s a decision I’ve made, though. I have my daughter and my grandchildren, and my career is the best it’s ever been. I’m very grateful for what I have – and I love every second of my life.
At my age it’s either face or body. Of course I want both! To get the volume back to my face, I use a lot of fillers; I’m not ashamed to admit it. I had a half-facelift in 2000 in an attempt to save my marriage. Fillers seem to work – although Lord knows what they do to my body.