While many actresses of a certain age start dyeing their hair out of fear that the role might dry out, Louise Jameson sees the exact opposite.
Since deciding to leave her locks natural, job offers have flooded in, including one to join Emmerdale.
The former EastEnders star, who just turned 70, will make her debut in Dales tonight, playing Mary, Rhona Goskirk’s domineering mother.
And she believes her embrace of gray helped seal the deal.
“It’s been phenomenal, but literally, ever since I stopped dyeing my hair, there’s been a lot of work to do,” says Louise. I had eight or nine offers.
“I thought it would be the opposite, but no, the work really extended for me. Some actors try to look younger and manage well, but I think if there’s an air of desperation about trying to hold onto your youth, that limits your casting.
“I am very happy to be 70 years old and have white hair and do not use Botox. I think that age has to be accepted naturally.”
Birmingham Post and Mail)
Louise, who plays Rosa di Marco in EastEnders, has always planned to work well before retirement age.
“My father was an insurance broker and he sold life insurance policies,” she recalls. I can remember him saying, ‘We really have to pay you pension’. And I said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll work right up until the day I die’.
“This is the way back when I was 20 years old. I never thought about retiring. I write now and direct too, so I have a lot of fingers in the cupcakes. “
For now, however, Louise is busy playing the outspoken mother Mary, who barges into Emmerdale unannounced just as her daughter Rhona is about to propose to boyfriend Marlon Dingle. With her keen intelligence, soon Mary will hit her.
The fact that Mary was cheerful and loyal, rather than a stereotypical older woman, was part of Louise’s appeal.
“Old people shouldn’t always show up in Zimmer tights and frames,” she said firmly.
“I was going to talk to Emmerdale about that when I joined the chat. But before I could catch my breath, they gave me an outline of where she was headed and it made it impossible for me to keep going. It’s better than anything I can think of.”
Louise, who grew up in Woodford Green, Essex, was even shocked by some of the quirks Mary did and said to her long-suffering on-screen daughter.
She said: “As a mother, I flinched at some of the things Mary said. There is a fine line between support and intervention. With two sons of my own [Harry and Tom] I really hope that I will be supportive, but I have no doubt if you talk to them they will say that I have interfered sometimes! ”
Louise has had a long and varied career, with roles ranging from Blanche Simmons in the popular ’80s Tenko series, to her five years at Bergerac as detective Susan Young’s girlfriend.
The role of Mary is actually not her first appearance in Emmerdale.
Fifty years ago, she made history playing the show’s first murder victim Sharon Crossthwaite, Annie Sugden’s cousin.
Continuing with the theme, she also ends up in a body bag in Bergerac, having a heart attack in EastEnders and dying of beriberi, or vitamin B1 deficiency, in Tenko.
“They keep killing me, are they trying to tell me something?”
she smiles. “When I was at Emmerdale in the early 1970s, it was one of my first jobs.
“So to be offered this part, it looks like I’ve gone full.”
Arguably the biggest regret of Louise’s career is not being able to continue playing EastEnders’ Rosa during her more than two-year stint with the soap.
“It was a great show with a great cast and I really enjoyed my time there,” she said.
“We spent two years laying out the bed and we were about to fly, but a new manufacturer came up with different ideas and [the di Marco family] are the casualties. “
But while that part is what she’s probably most widely recognized for, she’s still a favorite with Doctor Who fans for playing Leela, the glamor warrior who accompanied Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor from 1977 to 1978.
“I still get letters from people who wrote to me in the 1970s,” she laughs. “Unbelievable. I have done so many Dr. Wishes that I have nothing left to sign!
“I also write books about Doctor Who and I just wrote the script for them. It turned into my pension and it took me all over the world.”
Louise has dyslexia but luckily, Emmerdale leaned in behind to help her with her filming schedule.
“I have so many emails that I don’t know what to do on which days,” she explains.
“We sent all the information, so it was a case of deciphering which bits worked for me.
“I couldn’t see my way through the maze, but they helped me sort it out.”
Louise keeps in shape through regular yoga sessions and also reckons that working out four months before her first session will help improve her energy levels.
“I’m pretty glad I stopped when I did, because I think otherwise, I’d have spent the entire lock under the table!” she smiles.
“It’s not like I drank a lot, but I’ll have a drink or
“Now that I’m awake, I’m awake, it doesn’t take an hour to come. I feel so much better for it. “
As for the future, Louise wants to enjoy every minute of her stay at Emmerdale.
“I want to stay as long as they want me,” she laughs. “What a wonderful job to be in your 70s, I am so grateful.”
Emmerdale is the weekday on ITV.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/acting-legend-louise-jameson-details-26361985 Acting legend Louise Jameson details the dramatic hair change she made to take on the role of Emmerdale