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Lynda Bellingham

Friday, 30 April 2010

Lynda Bellingham, an integral part of daily show Loose Women, is probably most recognisable as the mother in the Oxo advertisements, which spanned 16 years. Lynda penned an autobiography entitled Lost and Found: My Story, which was released on March 4th this year, and is here today to tell us all about it!

What made you decide to write your autobiography?

I always like to stress the point that I wrote the book myself. I really don't know why you would employ a ghostwriter. I have a profile and I thought a publisher might be interested. A lot of things that happened in my life I thought would make a great book.
When I was starting to make notes and I realised how much it had affected my whole life. I looked at my marriages and how they did not work. About being adopted and how I was probably searching for love. Out of that I emerged as someone who tried very hard and someone who at times was misunderstood. So this provided me with a chance to tell my side of the story.

When did you realise you were adopted?

I was very very young but I think I was about 4 years old. I remember my Mom telling me I was chosen and I really loved that. The only time it was a negative thing was when I was a teenager and I was rebellious which was probably a hard time for my parents. When I had my first son that's when I wanted to meet my birth mother as I really couldn't understand how someone could give up their child.

How old were you when you decided you wanted to be an actress?

When I was about 12 I decided I wanted to be an actress. Before that I was mad about ponies and then I got hay fever and had to give that up so I decided to go for acting.

You talk about your marriages a lot in the book tell me about Greg, your first husband?

He was such a lovely guy and we became friends again in 1998. We divorced in 76. He has sadly passed away since.

I wasn't young when I married him - I was 27. I suppose I should have known better but I think that's a classic example of women who think they can change a man. I did kind of know I would be making a mistake but I was so involved in it that I had to do it and make it work. I sort of hoped that if there was a loyalty there that it could work. I was able to put up with his infidelity and hoped it would be different when we married.
Women were constantly calling me up and telling me they were having an affair with my husband. I am always championing women but the bad ones are probably truly bad.
His first wife was Cheryl Barrymore (Michael Barrymore's ex wife). He married again for the third time but never had any children.

What prompted you to have cosmetic surgery?

When I was growing up I would never have considered cosmetic surgery. When I was married to Greg I questioned everything about myself. When I went to speak to the plastic surgeon he said 'yes I can make your nose better, but it won't help your marriage'.

Did it help you get more roles?

I think it did get me more parts. I think if I stayed a complete character actress I may have cornered the market.

Your good friend Christopher Biggins encouraged you to ask out a handsome waiter called Nunzio..

He is a bit of a match maker. When you are single and in the acting profession, you have a lot of gay friends. They're also great at getting you lots of dates.

You left that marriage when you were fifty - tell me about that?

A lot of women don't have any money and nowhere to go. I was lucky I had money, I had my parents and I had a career. It really annoys me when people say 'Why don't they just leave'. Yes you can go to a refuge and they do such a good job there but it can be such a different life to what you might have had. The law is changing so they are talking about taking the abuser out of the house. I still have friends who are in that situation.
I went to my parents and went back and put the house on the market. I did this so quickly before he had time to think. I bought a flat and was starring in Facing the Future and I was working all the time. I don't know how I did it.

It was during this time you were also a household name because of the oxo adverts - was it hard playing a happy housewife on screen when you were in an unhealthy marriage?

It was just so hard as the press had labelled me as the perfect housemother and my contract said if you do anything to jeopardize this image your contract would be terminated. I didn't test it so I don't know what the outcome would have been. I was living my life in fear. It was so tiring and the pretence was so difficult as I am quite an open person.
I have done a new commercial for Oxo and I am playing myself and it's fun. I am hoping it might go somewhere. I think now might be a good time for me to be back on the scene in those adverts.

Your good friend Lynda La Plante also suggested you for the title role in Prime Suspect. Do you regret your decision now?

It was a big regret but not necessarily mine as I just wasn't available at the time. I would have loved to have played that part.

What has been your career highlight?

There has been different highlights in my career. With Calendar Girls it gives me a chance to show that there is life after 60. If those women who created that calendar could get up and do something like that it just shows you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it.

Did you ever think you would find love again?

No I was conditioned by society that tells you that your life ends at a certain age. That is so not true in this day and age. Lots of us are separated and sometimes you are single but in a way you need to stop thinking your life is over. Have fun. Certainly prepare yourself for death which sounds awful but it's just saying to plain what you want to do with your life. Be in control of your life.

Does Michael go on tour with you?

Michael sometimes goes on tour with me as it can be tough. Then it becomes a bit of a roadtrip. He still works in Spain 3- 4 days a week.

What are you up to at the moment?

I have just finished three months on Calendar Girls, then back on Loose Women and I hope to write a fiction novel. Then in October I am back in Calendar Girls and I hope to be performing it in Dublin.