We chat about feminism, and the paradox of why Matt LeBlanc, her co-star in Episodes, looks distinguished with grey hair but “women become more and more invisible.”
Greig, who is married to fellow actor Richard Leaf and has three young children, has evidently thought about it. Perhaps the fact that Episodes a British/American co-production, has done so well in the States and has been commissioned for a third series, might have something to do with it. Becoming a high-profile star in the US will mean that Greig has to grapple with the way female leads, even comic ones, are expected to do physical “maintenance”. Greig doesn’t do maintenance. She tells me she hardly ever exercises, bar the odd run in London’s Richmond Park, and when I mention Botox, she nearly falls over.
“Maybe this whole obsession about colouring our hair is about our inability to grow up. To let go of the fact we aren’t children any more, and the whole thing about changing our faces and looking young, and 60 being the new 40, is maybe we don’t want to let go of our childhood. Maybe that is where our angst is, that we are not allowed to be older and still have worth.”
We discuss the crazy fact that as role models, older women can be like Hillary Clinton or Hilary Devey - that is, running a country or running a giant industry - but if they are not like the two Hilarys, then they are completely invisible.
And yet with age Greig has become ever more visible. She remains a popular character, Debbie Aldridge, in The Archers on Radio 4, won an Olivier Award in 2007 for her role as Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing in Stratford, and has had glowing reviews for her current play, not to mention success in two primetime sitcoms.
All that career success can’t have left much time to be a domestic goddess.
“What is wrong with being someone who stays at home and creates an amazing home?” asks Greig. She hopes that Friday Night Dinner will help to redress the balance, since she plays a middle-aged woman who delights in home and family. “She works, but she also welcomes her family home, back to a place where people want to come and have dinner on a Friday night, even though it’s chaotic. The Jewish culture holds that out as something to be praised, that has worth.”