Lynda reveals all

Lynda Bellingham - Calendar Girls
Lynda Bellingham - Calendar Girls
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Loose Women panellist, the face of Oxo commercials and instantly recognisable actress Lynda Bellingham, loves taking her clothes off in public.

Well, she loves doing it on stage at least - though promises to stay fully clothed today for a lightning visit to the resort to promote the week long run of smash hit show Calendar Girls at Blackpool Opera House.

A far cry from the days when she went topless for her roles in films such as Confessions of a Driving Instructor and Sweeney!, these days she’s in the buff for something far more worthy.

“The charm of Calendar Girl and one of the things that has made it a huge success is that it’s a true story of real women who did an extraordinary thing,” she says. “And a percentage of the proceeds is still going to the £3 million already raised by what just started out as an idea by members of a Women’s Institute branch.”

As for appearing nude, she doesn’t mind at all and, as she is quick to point out, it’s only for a small part of the overall show.

“I’ve never been in a play that has got such a response,” she says. “It’s a bit like own career - women of a certain age are now back in the forefront of things. The audience is very much over 50 and 90 per cent women. I find it all quite inspirational.”

Surprisingly Lynda is married to Michael Pattemore, the man (then “Mickey” ) who first opened Blackpool’s long defunct Palace Nightspot (now the home of Sands Venue). These days he runs an on-line stage agency and Spanish mortgage brokerage

Her third husband, they married in May 2008 on her 60th birthday.

“It’s because of Michael that I’ve been able to keep touring so much in Calendar Girls,” said Lynda. “He drives me everywhere and will be catching up with things when we come to Blackpool.”

She admits the success of the stage play surprised her.

“Looking back I can see why it is so popular but at the time I thought I would be in and out with one tour.

“As an actress it’s terrific because I’ve done five or six tours and each time the cast is different so it keeps things fresh though I do feel a bit like the head girl when I’m telling the others to be relaxed about taking their clothes off,” she said. “It did come a bit unstuck once though when my son was playing the photographer on the play. I felt he was perhaps learning a little too much about his mum.”

Performing to up to 10,000 women a week has been liberating she says though she admits: “I wouldn’t presume to put myself up as an icon or a role model but I like to think that I speak for people who haven’t got a voice. I feel quite responsible for that - to be considered trustworthy like that is quite an honour.”

Does she still plan ahead?

“I never really used to but now I sort of do,” she says. “I’m hoping Loose Ends continues. Then there’s pantomime in Birmingham and another Calendar Girls tour until next April.”

So after such a varied working life has she any ambitions left?

“I’d like to win an Oscar at the age of 75 – as the best newcomer!” she laughs.

n Calendar Girls is at Blackpool Opera House from Monday September 26 to Saturday October 1. Performances are at 7.30pm with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm.