Penelope Keith: families need to watch TV together

Sitcom star argues that tensions between young and old happen because we don't mix

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Best known for starring in The Good Life and To the Manor Born, Penelope Keith tells Radio Times that she’s now “a gardener who acts” – but she has strong opinions about modern comedy and how it’s part of a society that keeps families apart.

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“When I did Good Life and Manor Born, producers didn’t have to fill in forms saying which audience they were targeting, it was commissioned just because it was good,” she says in the latest issue of Radio Times magazine. “But life today is terribly compartmentalised. Children and adults eat in separate rooms or watch television in separate rooms.

“I’m sure that is a reason why young people occasionally bash up old people – because the ages don’t mix any more.”

Her latest project on screen is The Manor Reborn, a new factual series following the work being done to transform the National Trust’s Avebury Manor, near Swindon. It’s being renovated but with a twist: craftspeople are re-creating four different historical periods at the manor: Tudor, Georgian, Victorian and the 1930s.

“We want to bring alive five centuries of history,” says Keith, “but in a new way, creating a stately home without rules. Somewhere you can sit on the chairs.”

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The Manor Reborn begins on Thursday 24 November on BBC1 (Sunday 27 November BBC1 Scotland and Wales) and you can read more about Keith’s work on it and her famous roles in the new issue of Radio Times.