Joanna Lumley: 'At a certain age, you’re thrown on to a kind of mental scrapheap'

26 September 2014, 14:34 | Updated: 7 December 2016, 14:40

The campaigning actress wants more to be done to involve senior citizens in UK society.

Speaking to Charlotte Green on this Sunday’s edition of Classic FM's Culture Club, Lumley says she thinks the “affluent West” is getting it wrong when it comes to respecting older members of the community.

"The Far East has a different attitude to old age entirely where the older you get, the more you’re respected and your opinions are sought." Lumley says.

"That doesn't happen in this country.” 

Lumley is supporting Silver Sunday, a day of activities celebrating older people, which this year will happen on Sunday 5 October. 

“This is a special day for older people to get involved in community events and activities to bring back some of the traditional community spirit,” she says.

“We want it to become a kind of national fixture like Mothering Sunday, so that every year when the first Sunday in October comes round, we remember it.”

However, the actress isn’t hopeful that there will be a growth in roles for older actors - particularly women.

Since the beginning of entertainment, it has always been "man-heavy", she says.


"There’s an appetite for vigour in films. The camera loves a bit of movement. Movement is usually attached to younger people and men, and that's just the way it is," says Lumley.

"I think that it's a bitter pill to swallow but it's a fact that there aren't going to be masses and masses of roles for older women because there isn't the audience for it."

"The maddening thing is as actors of either sex we get better as we get older and so when you are 65 you think 'I could play Juliet now. I understand it.'"

Now 68 herself, Lumley is showing no sign of slowing down. She regularly speaks out on human rights and animal welfare.

"Do things as fast as you can, if you want to do them," she tells Charlotte Green. "When people ask for help, I love to see if I can give it and do it."