81? I’m more like eight!’
amanda Barrie on her youthful outlook on life, running a dating agency for pensioners and why everyone still calls her Alma
Former Coronation Street star Amanda Barrie tells TV Times she had an absolute riot filming The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Growing Old, which begins on More4 this week.
‘We were like children!’ she says of the other 12 senior celebrities taking part. ‘Never mind 80, we were more like eight year olds!’
The four-part series sees famous over-65s, including Johnny Ball, 79, Esther Rantzen, 76, ex-eastender Laila Morse, 71, and comedian Roy Hudd, 81, explore different aspects of ageing, starting with a guide to love and romance.
As Johnny chaperones Esther to a dance class, Amanda joins cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, 77, in running a dating agency for elderly singletons. And the continuous innuendo had her in stitches!
‘I laughed so much with Henry, we really gelled,’ says Amanda, who starred as Alma Baldwin in Corrie from 1981 to 2001. ‘We had makeovers and Henry was put in shorts! We got very giggly.’
Here, Amanda, 81, who appeared in series two of BBC1’S similar golden-oldies hit The
Real Marigold Hotel, tells us more…
what’s the idea behind the series? It’s about seeing how we all cope as the idea of what old age is like has changed, whether it’s food, health or the way people live in general. I can remember feeling quite old in my thirties and thinking I shouldn’t do or wear certain things. I don’t take any notice of that now.
You and Henry Blofeld had a lot of fun…
Yes. I’d never met him before, but I knew who he was because my other half [crime novelist Hilary Bonner] is cricketpotty. We really hit it off and we’ve stayed in touch. I’ve been very lucky with the men I’ve met through work recently. On The Real Marigold Hotel there was Bill Oddie, who I adore, and Lionel Blair, who
I was reunited with after we first met when I was a dancer.
do you feel your age at 81?
I have a theory that if we never knew how old we were and we could scrap birthdays, we’d have a very different attitude to the way we behaved and we’d be a lot better off. I’ve often thought how I’d love to be hypnotised so I didn’t know how old I was.
Tell us your secret of staying so evergreen and sprightly...
The obvious things like not putting on too much weight, not smoking or drinking yourself into the floor, apply no matter what age you are. It really makes me laugh when older people say they’ve got aches and pains because I remember being at ballet school and the back of my legs being so stiff from dancing that I’d have to walk down the stairs backwards – that hasn’t changed all that much!
do you have any plans to retire? You don’t retire in our profession, the profession retires you. Somebody thought I’d retired a couple of years ago, but I hadn’t – I just took a gap year at 79 – like all those students do – because I wanted to know what it was like to do nothing.
do you still get lots of attention from Coronation street fans?
I got recognised in India, would you believe? The funniest one was when I was in Venice and some people were leaning over the famous Rialto Bridge yelling, ‘Alma!’ – I couldn’t believe it. I still get Alma-ed a lot, but I don’t mind. I’m delighted!
Amanda with the cast of The Real Marigold Hotel
With on-screen hubby Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street