We’ve seen you on Casualty before, Jean!
“It’s my fourth appearance in Casualty over many years – and I’ve played various strange ladies! This time I’m Doris, an elderly woman with dementia, who thinks her young gardener is her dead husband. She pursues him and ends up in hospital. It’s very moving and dramatic.”
Was Doris a tough role for you?
“You have to do the scenes three or four times and there was a lot of shouting and crying, which you have to be able to repeat at absolutely the same level. It’s great fun but very tiring. I was watching Call The Midwife and all those girls having babies and screaming. I felt sorry for them, having to work so hard!”
Was playing a dementia sufferer a challenge?
“As Ma Boswell in Bread I always had to go and visit people in old people’s homes and entertain them. I observed how people look who have Alzheimer’s and the vacancy in their eyes. It’s very sad to see them sitting around in a circle with no expectation of anything – and then suddenly they can change! The thing about an actor is not to act, you have to observe and become – acting is about reacting.”
Do you still get stopped in the street by fans of Bread?
“I always know when it’s showing on a digital channel, because the people in Marks and Spencer’s tell me! They were wonderful days. It was very hard work, but it was amazing and I’m realising now just how lucky we were to have it for all those years.”