Alison Steadman – reality shows are rubbish

In an exclusive interview the legendary actress reveals she has turned down Strictly... but would have said yes if she were 30 years younger

Reality show producers – knock Alison Steadman off your list.

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The actress who shot to fame playing the ghastly Beverley in Mike Leigh’s cult 1977 television play Abigail’s Party may not watch much TV –  “I am not glued to television, I like it. Maybe when I am in my 80’s I will watch some more” – but there is one genre she really detests.

“I don’t like reality shows. I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of the Jungle. I don’t like that,” she tells RadioTimes.com.

“Big Brother took over people’s lives. It was a waste of time – for the people on it and for the people watching it.

“I am not a snob but I actually prefer things where people use their talents, like Great British Bake Off or MasterChef, where people actually make things. It is exciting and interesting watching people being creative and doing things.”

Steadman has been approached for Strictly, a show she puts in the category of requiring talent to succeed, and says she would do it if she were 30 years younger.

“We need some fun in our lives and I thought it was great that Ann Widdecombe did it – but it’s not for me, not now. She has that kind of personality where she could do it.

“To be honest I couldn’t bear it if I were out in the first round.”

They are surprisingly downbeat words for an actress regarded as one of the nicest – and most talented in the profession – but the griping does not end there.

She is also pretty annoyed about the axing of her ITV comedy series Love and Marriage, but is consoling herself with her new project – a BBC comedy about an elderly friendship group living in Norfolk.

The star is due to film a pilot of the comedy, called Grey Mates, for the independent producers Hat Trick and written by Richard Pinto, the co-creator of the hit Asian sketch show Goodness Gracious Me.

Filming in September, the comedy is nominally set in Hunstanton but many of the scenes will be filmed in an indoor studio. Russ Abbott and Stephanie Beacham are slated to co-star in the project which casts Steadman as the friendship group’s “chief organizer”.

“After that they will take the pilot episode to the BBC,” said Steadman, who admitted that she was “disappointed” that ITV decided not to commission a second series of the comedy Love and Marriage in which she plays a family Matriarch hoping for a better life on her retirement.

“Who knows who makes these decisions,” said Steadman, who is also known for her more recent appearance in the BBC comedy Gavin & Stacey.

“There are lots of people involved and we just get a Dear John letter. It’s very hard. We loved the series and we really felt like a family. We were sort of banking on it going again. It’s so lovely and we had such a great time and we were terribly sorry not to do another series. All the cast were very sad.

“It was very hard considering how I get recognised a lot for this – people meeting me in the street and saying how much they loved it as well as Gavin & Stacey.”

Steadman said she thought a reprise of the much loved comedy by James Corden and Ruth Jones was unlikely, despite repeated rumours that the award winning show may return after the last episode aired on New Year’s Day 2010.

As for Abigail’s Party, the classic drama remains a “big part of my life,” she says.

“I love it, I am very proud of it. In fact we still have charity nights.”

Is that the kind of thing Beverley would be doing? In fact, what would she be doing? Stil dancing to Demis Roussos and eating cheese on coctail sticks?

“I should think she is probably on her third husband, dressing up to the nines cruising it, flirting with guys.”

Steadman was speaking to promote a selection of videos explaining on demand TV service YouView which have just been released. For more information go to facebook.com/youview


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