How has TV changed since your first role in 1963?
It has changed hugely. I started in black and white! When I started, TV was regarded as something that wasn’t as great as film, or theatre, or radio, but it has proved to have far greater powers than those. It’s a very powerful medium now, and should be celebrated as such, because we have the greatest television in the world.
What’s been the highlight of your career?
Getting my first job as a walk-on at Stratford. I got to see the most amazing actors: Charles Laughton, Lawrence Olivier, Dame Edith Evans. Getting The Avengers put me on a different level. Life changed overnight, more or less.
What do you watch now?
I absolutely adore re-runs of Dad’s Army. I can’t get enough of it, it’s heaven. I also love the one-off dramas that have been on recently, like The Go-Between and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. They remind me of the plays we used to get on the radio that gave me the appetite for acting.
Do you prefer the radio or TV?
I am a great Radio 4 listener during the day, and I switch to television in the evening.
Who on TV makes you angry?
Politicians. Particularly the current Labour leader, who drives me mad. He’s one of those well-intentioned men who creates chaos around him. I think politicians misjudge our intelligence. We can, and do, see through them. But I quite enjoy watching political programmes, because they get the heart going.
What makes you cry at the TV?
I cry all the time. Remembrance Day in particular. In fact, anything to do with veterans make me sob. Anybody who can’t pay their respects, like the Labour leader, needs his bottom spanking.
In You, Me and the Apocalypse you’re living through the last 34 days on Earth. If you had 34 days left until the world ended, what would you do?
I’d go to the countryside, because I wouldn’t want to be surrounded by people getting hysterical. I’d find a nice quiet field with lots of cows to talk to, nobody else. I’d love to take my daughter Rachy [actress Rachael Stirling], but I expect she’ll have plans.
As a former Mrs Bond yourself, would you like to see a black or female Bond take over from Daniel Craig?
A black Bond would be lovely. I wouldn’t like to see a female Bond, because we wouldn’t want to lose the Bond girls. But we could have a lesbian Bond, why not?