‘YOU HAVE TO GRAB LIFE AND JUST GO FOR IT’
After a tough time when she lost two of her dearest loved ones, actress Amanda Redman gave herself a confidence reboot. The trick, she says, is learning how to make the most of every day
Amanda Redman’s hands-on approach to life
She’s one of the most instantly recognisable faces on television – and when actress Amanda Redman arrives for the Good Housekeeping cover shoot, she lights up the room. Best known for her roles in New Tricks and At Home With The Braithwaites, she beams with confidence, and it’s difficult to believe that she will turn 60 this year. Amanda is back on our screens now in a new ITV1 drama, The Good Karma Hospital, which was filmed in Sri Lanka. Travelling there was a great solace, as it helped her come to terms with the loss of her mum, Joan, and her close friend, Lynda Bellingham, around the same time. Now looking forward to the future, she shares what she learnt from that difficult time...
It’s hard to believe that you turn 60 this Summer. How does that feel?
I don’t think about it. I’ve got it in the neck so many times for saying I don’t like getting older. But I really defy anyone who says they do – they’re not telling the truth. They can’t be! I’m more tired than I used to be and going to the gym is harder. Who likes that? But I adore life. There is so much more I want to do and see. When I turned 40, my mother very wisely said it’s better than turning 50! And so it goes on. So I have to keep reminding myself. It’s better than turning 70, 80… Because it becomes closer to waving goodbye – and I don’t want to wave goodbye.
Will you celebrate?
I will do just an informal celebration, but not a big thing. It would be an extraordinary thing
[continued from previous spread] to celebrate my 80th birthday – just for the mere fact that I had reached it!
How do you stay in shape.
I stick pretty rigidly to the 5:2 diet, and the other days I tend to eat a lot of Slimming World-types of foods. I go to the gym at least five times a week. I have a trainer and I do cardio and weights. It’s the cardio that keeps the weight off, there’s no doubt about it. I’m fairly fit for my age. All of that has really helped me to stay in shape.
You have said in the past that you had given up Botox and fillers, but may start again or have a facelift. Do you still feel that way?
Never say never about anything!
But as an actress, you need to be able to move your features! Exactly. I never did anything that would endanger doing that. That would just be stupid. People who do that are mask-like, they’re not helping themselves, really. But I would never stand in judgement on anybody doing anything that makes them feel better about themselves. It’s up to them. It’s not something I feel I can say I’d never do, because I don’t know whether I would. There’s no doubt this industry has always been about looking the best you can. But there comes a time when you can’t do that – I don’t think – because you start to look like a mask. You have to allow the age process to do its thing.
Is that difficult when you’re in the public eye?
I think it’s hard for every woman to grow older. Biologically, all the things that happen to us are tough to deal with. If you’re doing it in the public eye, it doesn’t help. But it is what it is. We all knew it when we signed up. Men don’t have quite the same pressures as us. To be fair to people in my industry, it isn’t pure vanity. It’s a hell of a lot about being able to get work. That’s where many of the decisions people make come from. It’s because they think if they look younger, then they’re going to get more work. I think there is a certain pressure.
You play a doctor in India in your new ITV drama, The Good Karma Hospital. Can you tell us about it?
It was a joy! It’s set in Southern India, but we filmed it in Sri Lanka. It’s a show that has warmth but a gritty edge, and it doesn’t shy away from the truth. It’s got humour and hope. My character thinks she is head of the hospital, but she’s not. She behaves as if she is, though! She’s passionate and strong – she is such fun and I loved playing her! I was on holiday in Sri Lanka in 2014 when I got the call to say my mum had been rushed into hospital. When I got out there again for filming, I felt maybe it was the end of the cycle of horror.
You lost your mum and your close friend, Lynda Bellingham, around the same time. That must have been very difficult. Lynda died the day before my mother in 2014. I couldn’t believe it. It just seemed to me to be utterly extraordinary. It really did occur to me then that you have to grab life with both hands and just go for it. You can’t let things get you down. In the great scheme of things, don’t sweat the small stuff, because it really doesn’t matter.
You’ve been with your husband, Damian, for 19 years and been married for seven. Are you romantic?
Yes. Very. He’s the most romantic man I’ve ever met. When I came back from filming in Sri Lanka, he had filled every room in the house with flowers. He will take me on surprise holidays and breaks to the most beautiful places. When I was living in Spain, he brought out Tupperware with food from my favourite Indian takeaway! He put it all in his suitcase for me.
What have you learnt about love?
When you’re young, it’s hard to recognise. I think one mistakes love for something that isn’t love, and sometimes one thinks this isn’t worth it when, actually, it is. You think the grass is always greener, but the truth is that sometimes you’ve got what you really need right in front of your nose.
Are there more TV roles for older women these days?
No. When I was young, I remember an actress of 39 telling me to make the most of it because when you get to my age, you won’t have the roles. That barrier has been pushed – so now I’d say from 55 onwards is tricky. Probably up until the time you’re in your late 60s, when different types of roles come along. But during that period, there is a lost decade.
That age group is the biggest TV viewing audience, though! Yes! It’s always struck me as weird that there’s not more for women of my age, simply because the audience would quite like to be able to say, ‘Oh yes, that happened to me.’ And the many problems and also the joyous stuff that happens when you reach my age. It’s something that would be nice to see.
Your daughter Emily (from your first marriage to actor Robert Glenister) worked with you on New Tricks. Do you have plans to act together again?
No, she decided she didn’t want to do it any more. She said she watched how passionate I am about acting, but she didn’t feel that. She has always wanted to go into publishing, and that’s what she now does. It was very brave of her.
What has motherhood taught you?
Emily has steadily taught me that it’s not my life she is living – it’s her own. I have to learn to let go. She’s my only child and she was hard to get in the first place. I’m sad that I didn’t have more children because I love kids. So now she just has to hurry up and give me grandchildren!
Good karma: Amanda Redman with her co-star, Amrita Acharia