Susan Penhaligon: Actress bemoans lack of TV roles for older actresses

TV has no time for older actresses, Susan Penhaligon, the former Bouquet Of Barbed Wire actress, said today.

Penhaligon, 61, was hailed the "face of the decade" in the Seventies and the British answer to Brigitte Bardot.

But the actress, whose 1976 drama Bouquet Of Barbed Wire is being remade by ITV, told the Radio Times: "Thankfully I love theatre, as TV really doesn't want older actresses."

She added: "Twenty well-known older actresses are chasing about four good parts a year, not counting Holby City and the soaps. Equity (the performers' and artists' trade union) ran a campaign about just this."

Penhaligon, who played the more glamorous sister of Judi Dench's character in Eighties sitcom A Fine Romance, said the role of teen temptress Prue in A Bouquet Of Barbed Wire, which was considered risque at the time, had trapped her in "Seventies aspic".

She said: "The problem with Bouquet is that the old photos of me in the series, usually in hot pants, are always printed.

"I understand why, but it doesn't help me as an actress now, in 2010, just as I am growing into the older, character parts, to be trapped in Seventies aspic. In fact, it's a hindrance."

The actress, who has recently appeared in TV soap Emmerdale, said she had not watched A Bouquet Of Barbed Wire for "years and years", adding: "I'm not that fond of watching myself. A kind of nostalgia sweeps over you.

"I'd rather live in the now. Some articles written about me ask 'What happened to...?' as if I've never done anything else."

But she added: "I don't want to sound like some poor middle-aged old fart that had this huge success in her 20s - I'm lucky to be still in there."

Penhaligon, whose 1970s credits included the comedy No Sex Please: We're British, recently revealed that she had tried Botox but said the injections left her looking like "a character from Planet Of The Apes".

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