There's a point in his conversation with Joan Collins when Ryan Tubridy makes a bit of a fashion faux pas. It’s the sort of thing any of us might have been guilty of, but Joan doesn’t let him off the hook. She wants to correct the record. What was this egregious slip, you ask? Well, Ryan credited Joan’s blockbuster soap Dynasty with the invention of shoulder pads. Joan was having none of it:
"People have been wearing shoulder pads since the 1930s, Ryan. Just look at movies made in the 1930s and 40s. They stopped in the 50s, but, you know, if you look at Joan Fontaine, Barbara Stanwyck, they all wore huge shoulder pads. And men have always had shoulder pads."
But when Ryan apologised for his faux pas, Joan was – again – not having any of it:
"Oh, it’s not a faux pas at all. It’s just that, you think that, yes, they definitely have come back. And as far as I’m concerned, they never left. I wouldn’t dream of wearing a suit without shoulder pads. Or a coat, or anything."
Joan’s new book, My Unapologetic Diaries, has just been published and the actress-turned-author is keen to stress that it’s full of unexpected details. As she tells Ryan, it’s not all cocktail parties, there’s a lot of detail about what it’s like to be an actor:
"What it’s like to go up for a role and then lose it. What it’s like to be at top of the heap and then come crumbling down and accept that and to know that that’s going to happen."
When she was on the cover of all the magazines at the height of her fame, someone asked Joan what she was going to do if it all stopped:
"And I said, 'It isn't a question of if, it’s a question of when. Because this degree of fame is never going to last and you’ve just got to accept that it’s not and I shall just go on and continue on being a jobbing actor.’"
As she was starting out in her career, Joan’s father – who was an agent and knew the business only too well – gave her some key advice for dealing with the unwanted attention of men in the industry:
"Daddy had this thing, ‘Well, knee them in the groin.’ I did have to do that a couple of times, but I didn’t always hit the right spot."
Of course, you don’t have to be a woman in the entertainment industry to suffer from the unwanted attention of men:
"It’s not just women in showbusiness, it’s women in general. It’s women in offices, in shops, in fashion, in anywhere."
Ryan wondered if other actresses' careers suffered because they weren’t as well prepared or looked after as Joan was. But she maintained that she also hadsetbacks because of her refusal to allow predatory men take advantage of her:
"I suffered. I lost roles because of not going onto the casting couch. Well, I wouldn’t do that because that went against my morals, which were quite strong at that time, in that particular way."
As a lifelong feminist, Joan played the relationship game her own way:
"I had no compunction about, you know, having relationships or affairs with men who I liked, who I fancied. And in that way, I felt that I was an emancipated woman who was living her life like a man, in a way, and would not be, you know, the shy young virgin."
Although she famously starred in a classic episode of the original Star Trek series, Joan has absolutely no intention of following her erstwhile co-star William Shatner into space:
"It’s not my cup of tea, it really isn’t. I mean, I don’t go on those fairground things that go around, so I’m not about to go into space."
She’s a star right here on Earth. And the good news for fans is that, having enjoyed a career spanning seven decades, Joan Collins has no plans to retire, so don’t put the shoulder pads into storage just yet.
You can hear Ryan’s full conversation with Joan Collins by going here. And My Unapologetic Diaries by Joan Collins is published by W&N.