Una Stubbs: I’m not sure Benedict Cumberbatch knows how Sherlock comes back

The actress who plays Mrs Hudson says the cast are kept in the dark about plot details as she reveals she’s quite the Big Brother fan

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Actress Una Stubbs takes a break from Sherlock to talk, er, Sherlock…

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Sherlock is phenomenally popular. Does your character, Mrs Hudson, get any fan mail?

Yes! A lot of Chinese fan mail. I save the stamps and send bundles of fantastic Chinese stamps off to my grandchildren.

She is very maternal.

When I was young we used to stay in digs with landladies, and I really enjoyed the places where the landladies were motherly. And because I’ve got three sons I’m used to being with boys, so I thought I could use that.

There’s been a lot of speculation about the cliffhanger at the end of series two – do you know how Sherlock will come back to life?

I really don’t. Because you might tell the person you love and they’re not sworn to secrecy as you are, and they might tell somebody else and so on and so on. I’m not sure that Benedict Cumberbatch knows…

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Big Brother. It’s terrible because you just look to see who’s going to be in the house, then you’re caught up, and have to watch it. It’s chaos at the moment, which is fun.

What show do you never miss?

Strictly Come Dancing. It’s lovely watching people learn the craft, and because lots of friends are watching, you can discuss your favourites.

Is it true you trained as a dancer but never as an actor?

Yes, I was sent to dancing school when I was 14 because I was so hopeless academically. It was a wise move on my parents’ part, although they could ill afford it. My first TV job was as a chorus girl.

Have you slipped into your dancing shoes recently?

I danced in Starlings and when I was in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National last year. People think when you get to a certain age that you can’t do things [she is 76]. They say, ‘Do you still dance?’ And you think, ‘Well yes, and I walk and I swim.’

What makes you blush?

Oh, I’m pretty broad-minded. I only really blush if it’s bad.

What makes you well up?

Long Lost Family. That made me blub a lot. I’d never seen it before and it caught me unawares.

If you were boss of the BBC…

I’d like to see more programmes about art. When I’m at a loose end I paint watercolours, but most of all I love sketching.

What would you ban?

Those cooking programmes when they bully the people in the kitchen, as if that’s acceptable. I don’t think children should see that.

Are you technologically savvy?

My agent made me get a computer but I hate it. I could throw it out of the window.

Who’d be your ideal dinner guest?

Michael Palin because he’s gorgeous and it would be so interesting to hear about his travels – and he paints watercolours, too.

Who’s left you starstruck?

Gene Kelly. I had a cup of tea and I dropped it – all over me, thank goodness, but I looked a fool. I don’t remember anything he said; I remember just looking at him.

You’re in the forthcoming series of Who Do You Think You Are? What was that like?

It was a real privilege and strange at first being with people who knew more about me than I did. There was a shock – a pleasant, moving shock.


QUICKFIRE Q&A

Eastenders of Coronation Street? Coronation Street

Antiques Roadshow or University Challenge? Antiques Roadshow

The White Queen or The Returned? I didn’t catch either


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Sherlock reruns are at 8.30pm Fri BBC1; Una is in future episodes of Starlings (Tuesdays Sky1) and Coming Up (Mondays C4)