Maureen Lipman said older actresses get ‘thrown in the trash’ after a certain age, but added, ‘That’s fair enough, isn’t it? The same thing happens to a leaf on a tree.
In an interview with the Radio Times, the actor, who works on Coronation Street, admitted that there was “a certain invisibility” about his age.
“While Maggie Smith and Judi Dench have done well, there isn’t a lot of dramatic work for older actresses,” Lipman said. “And you have to understand that every older actress still thinks she’s 34. Look at Joan Collins. And just because you’re 74 doesn’t mean you believe it.
The actor added that there were other exceptions, like Sheila Hancock, who is 80 and still appears on BBC Radio 4’s Just a Minute, and adopted a measured tone when discussing her own aging.
“I don’t just sit there thinking about my absence from society because I’m too busy living,” Lipman said. “Yeah, maybe we get thrown in the trash after a certain age, but that’s fair enough, isn’t it?” The same thing happens to a leaf on a tree.
Lipman, who was born in Hull and became a stage actress with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Laurence Olivier’s National Theater Company, before embarking on a career on the big screen with roles in films like Educating Rita, said that ‘she planned to work as long as possible. .
“I’ve lost a lot of friends, and it really makes you realize that you should be doing the job while you can still get it,” she says. “When I was 71 I did panto in Richmond, flashing my legs without thinking about it. So I will continue to work as long as I am healthy.
Creative union Equity launched a campaign earlier this month to raise awareness of the plight of older actors and other creative workers, some of whom are struggling to find work during the Covid pandemic.
Equity’s petition particularly focused on those over 70, who are not covered by the government-backed insurance scheme for the film and television industries, introduced to put the industry back to work after the pandemic forced productions to close.
Tony Robinson, who supported the campaign, said being over 70 has often given performers “outcast status” because they are seen as risky by producers.
The petition calls on the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) to “sit down at the table and work with Equity on a solution that allows older creators to safely return to work”. DCMS said it would work with Equity “to understand the challenges facing the creative and cultural sectors”.
Lipman, who has always supported Labor but distanced himself from the party, first on Ed Miliband’s support for recognition of the Palestinian state in 2014 and again during the anti-Semitist dispute, said that in removing former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s whip, the party has “turned him from a worn out force to a martyr.”
She added that Corbyn’s successor Keir Starmer has “taken over and certainly said the right things. I think the bottom line is that Starmer is great in the House of Commons, and Corbyn never was.