‘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

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Contents - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY NICKY JOHN­STON IN­TER­VIEW JES­SICA CAL­LAN

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

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