Philip Glenister has hit out at TV bosses for pandering to younger viewers and for casting older women in ‘dowdy’ roles.

In comments that would never have come from the mouth of his politically incorrect Ashes To Ashes alter-ego Gene Hunt, Philip, 48, criticised the way older women are portrayed on the small screen.

The star, who played tough-talking DCI Hunt in Life On Mars and its spin-off Ashes To Ashes, told the Radio Times that it was “much harder for actresses of a certain age”.

Asked whether he would swap roles with his wife, the 41-year-old X-Men: First Class actress Beth Goddard, Philip said: “She is (gorgeous), I know. But too often if a woman is over a certain age, drama says you have to be dowdy, which is ludicrous.

“One of the refreshing things watching David Hare’s (BBC spy drama) Page Eight was that pretty much every actress was of a certain age – brilliant actresses, with wit and wisdom.”

He added: “I would’ve thought the majority of people who watch TV drama are late 30s and over-40s, because we’re the ones who don’t go out and don’t have a life any more.

“I don’t understand why people are desperate to get kids to watch TV – don’t forget them, obviously, but don’t pander to them either. Don’t forget your core audience.”

Philip, who is starring as a down-on-his-luck solicitor in new BBC One conspiracy thriller Hidden, said it had “been nice to see grown-up dramas” such as BBC One psychological thriller Exile and BBC Two conspiracy theory drama The Shadow Line.

The actor also told the magazine that he took his sex symbol status “with a very large dash of salt”.

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