Glynis Barber talks about her new role as Roxy and Ronnie’s mum Glenda in EastEnders.

What was it like getting the part after Jill Gascoine pulled out at the last minute?
“It was all very last minute. I got the part on Wednesday, the script on Thursday and I started filming at 7am on the Friday with 38 pages of dialogue to learn! It was the maddest week of my life and I lost about half a stone in three days. But the girls – Sam, Rita and Barbara Windsor – were brilliant, so supportive. We formed close relationships very quickly.”

How do you keep so young looking?
“There is a lot of pressure on you to look good as an actress, but I don’t think I’d ever go as far as plastic surgery. I hate that ‘pulled’ looked and I think I’d rather look ‘old’ than ‘odd’. I am also a complete and utter coward. I am terrified of surgery and having a general anesthetic. Perhaps I’ll be the only wrinkly actress around in the future, so I’ll get all the work when they need an old lady!”

What are your secrets then?
“I do take a lot of vitamins. Some people have suggested that I take so many they could kill me. I read an article which says, ‘If you take such and such, you’ll look younger’ and I think, ‘I’ll try that’. It’s got to the point where I take a handful with breakfast, lunch and dinner! I also do a lot of exercise. I like to do yoga every Saturday and I go to the gym. It releases tension and makes me feel better.”

So you are pretty active?
“Yes but I am also a terrible couch potato. My husband (actor Michael Brandon) has been very worried about me since I got a Sky+ box as I am capable of watching TV for hours. I watched all of Strictly and The X Factor. I’m currently really enjoying In Treatment (an American series about psychotherapy).”

Do people still recognise you and Michael from Dempsey and Makepeace?
“People always recognize Michael and comment that he hasn’t changed at all but when I say ‘I am Makepeace’, they’re like ‘Really?’ The show is mentioned a lot and I find that really flattering – although I hate to watch it. I am very critical and will be thinking ‘What was I wearing?’ or ‘Why did I deliver that line like that?’”

You have jusy celebrated your 20th wedding anniversary. What is the secret of your successful marriage?
“The secret is we’ve argued our way through the last 20 years! Our lives are crazy, but we took time out to celebrate our anniversary. We had a lovely day together. Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday when we met and others it seems like a lifetime ago.”

Do you think you will stay in EastEnders for a while?
“I don’t know how long I am going to be with them. I am doing some filming which will go out in the spring and if they ask me to do more I’d be delighted. I’m more career orientated then I used to be. I lacked ambition when I did Dempsey and Makepeace. I had a lot of opportunities back then which I didn’t maximize. I appreciate my work much more now. My son is 17 and at a weekly boarding school so that gives me time to focus on work during the week and have family time at the weekends.”

And you also do a lot of charity work?
“I support a charity called Protimos that helps local lawyers to fight injustice. I am also involved with The Aspergers Syndrome Foundation and The Autism Trust. Autism is epidemic, a lot of sufferers are reaching adulthood and society is unprepared. My life is terribly busy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’ve just done a documentary for Protimos in Africa and I’d love to have a real-life adventure out there.”

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