I know my face will get older and sag­gier... that’s just life

CARO­LINE QUENTIN IS ONE OF THE COUN­TRY’S BEST LOVED TV STARS, WITH AP­PEAR­ANCES IN A STRING OF HIT SHOWS. SHE TALKS TO GABRIELLE FA­GAN ABOUT HER HEALTH AND FAM­ILY

Coventry Telegraph - - CELEBRITY WELLBEING - Caro­line Quentin is pa­tron of Coeliac UK and is help­ing to launch the char­ity’s ‘Gluten Freevo­lu­tion’ to ex­pand the op­tions for safe gluten-free food when eat­ing out. Visit coeliac.org.uk for more de­tails.

CARO­LINE QUENTIN has rarely been off our screens since she found fame in Nineties BBC com­edy Men Be­hav­ing Badly, along­side roles in dra­mas from Jonathan Creek to crime se­ries Blue Mur­der, and pre­sent­ing roles on se­ries such as Restora­tion Home.

She’s mar­ried to Sam Farmer and the cou­ple have two chil­dren, Emily, 17, and Will, 14, and live in Devon.

As she cel­e­brates 40 years in show­busi­ness, we caught up with the ac­tress to talk about her coeliac dis­ease, her mar­riage and how she feels about facelifts.

What’s been your most em­bar­rass­ing mo­ment?

“I HAVE so many em­bar­rass­ing mo­ments be­cause I have coeliac dis­ease. It’s a re­ac­tion to gluten, a pro­tein found in wheat, bar­ley and rye, and I was fi­nally di­ag­nosed two years ago.

“Symp­toms can in­clude vom­it­ing and di­ar­rhoea, nau­sea and bloat­ing, but worst of all the ur­gency of need­ing a toi­let.

“Most re­cently on stage in a play, The Hyp­ocrite, I re­alised, ‘Oh my God, I have to get to the loo right now!’ and I lit­er­ally raced through my lines, shot off stage, try­ing to rip off my pe­riod cos­tume as I went, and hurled my­self into the toi­let.

“It was ter­ri­fy­ing to think I might have an em­bar­rass­ing ac­ci­dent in front of an au­di­ence at the Royal Shake­speare Com­pany!

“There have been count­less times in my ca­reer that it’s in­ter­rupted work – I’ve been film­ing scenes and had to run off – not to men­tion the reg­u­lar oc­ca­sions in my ev­ery­day life when the only op­tion has been to use supermarket car parks, lay-bys, or mo­tor­way verges.

“It feels hu­mil­i­at­ing, and you get used to feel­ing vaguely pan­ic­stricken a lot of the time.

“Even a minute trace of gluten can make me very ill – it’s poi­son to me – which makes eat­ing out a night­mare. Food’s eas­ily cross-con­tam­i­nated if the same uten­sils are used to pre­pare nor­mal food and a gluten-free dish. I’ve had so many meals in fabulous posh restau­rants and then had to rush out and be sick after­wards.”

Would you ever have a facelift?

“I DON’T like the idea of any­thing like that, al­though I know my face is go­ing to get older and sag­gier. That’s just life and, luck­ily, I’m not some­one who’s made a liv­ing out of be­ing glam­orous. “I love chang­ing my hair colour though and I’ve gone from a red­head to a blonde be­cause I couldn’t face go­ing grey. I’m not into my ap­pear­ance par­tic­u­larly and rarely look in a mir­ror when I’m home on our farm in Devon.”

What are you most dread­ing?

“MY chil­dren leav­ing home – Sam and I can’t bear the thought of it.

“We’re such a great unit of four and get on so well – the kids are al­ways tak­ing the p**s out of us!

“We joke we may be forced to lock the kids in their rooms un­til they’re 30 or per­haps stalk them wher­ever they go.

“Emily wants a ca­reer in show busi­ness – prob­a­bly mu­si­cal theatre – and it will be so weird when she’s away at col­lege and there are no hits from the mu­si­cals blast­ing out.

“Luck­ily, friends tell us these days chil­dren are like boomerangs – they keep com­ing back. Moth­er­hood’s def­i­nitely the best role I’ve ever had.”

What gets you through the tough times?

“I’VE been pretty lucky, but had tough times, like ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing a cou­ple of mis­car­riages and los­ing my el­dest sis­ter and my mother. I can have quite ex­treme swings of mood – my mother was bipo­lar – and I think there’s el­e­ments of that in me.

“If I get low, I go walk­ing or busy my­self gar­den­ing as I’m a firm be­liever in the heal­ing power of open spa­ces and recog­nis­ing the enor­mity and beauty of na­ture. A sense of hu­mour’s vi­tal – I al­ways try to see the funny side of life.”

How im­por­tant is your mar­riage?

“IT means ev­ery­thing. It was love at first sight when we met on the set of Men Be­hav­ing Badly and we’ve been to­gether 18 years.

“I’m 56 and he’s 44, but the age gap has never both­ered us – we take it in turns to be grown-ups!

“We swapped roles when we had the kids, quite unusual then, and Sam stayed at home and brought them up, while I was free to go on lo­ca­tion or tour.

“I don’t know how he coped on his own with a tiny baby and a tod­dler in those early years.

“Sam’s re­trained as a cos­metic sci­en­tist and cre­ated his own uni­sex hair and skin­care range for teens, SAMFARMER, and I’ve vowed that if he ever wanted to ex­pand his work­load, I’d turn down a part to free him up more.

“It would be a sac­ri­fice, but he’s made plenty for me in the past and now it’s his turn.”

Even a minute trace of gluten can make me very ill – it’s poi­son to me... Coeliac suf­ferer Caro­line Quentin

Ac­tress Caro­line Quentin

Caro­line with Men Be­hav­ing Badly co-stars Neil Mor­ris­sey, Martin Clunes and Les­lie Ash

Caro­line with Alan Davies on lo­ca­tion for Jonathan Creek

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