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‘Talent never gets old’ (part 1)

by on January 20, 2016

Amid criticism about the lack of roles for older women on TV and in the theatre, it was interesting to see this piece by Alice Jones in The Independent last weekend. It notes that Joanna Lumley (69) and Tracey Ullman (56) have starred in recent new sketch shows on mainstream television. It praises their respective performances, in particular, offering the opinion that Joanna Lumley ‘stole every sketch she was in’ on Walliams and Friend.

The article goes on to consider the wider issues of gender and ageing in the entertainment industry, namechecking the stars who will always get work (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Frances de la Tour,  Anne Reid and Penelope Wilton). It highlights a number of ‘older’ women who are bucking the trend towards obscurity and asks whether it’s to do with them hitting their ‘comic stride’ in their 40s. Perhaps it’s worth underlining here that it’s not just ‘comic stride’ in performance terms – maybe some of them are in a better position due to their writing skills? Ruth Jones, for example, is co-author of Stella as well as playing the lead part; likewise Julia Davis both writes and stars in Hunderby.

Alice Jones concludes with the thought that ‘some things change, but talent never gets old.’ We’ll return to this idea later in the week.

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