Published: 21 September 2013
Actress Lynda Bellingham:
‘I want my coffin to go out to a blast of There’s No Business Like Showbusiness and for people to simply remember as a good woman.’
We ask a celebrity a set of devilishly probing questions – and only accept THE definitive answer. This week it’s Loose Women’s Lynda Bellingham.
The prized possession you value above all others...My home in North London, which is a big apartment in a converted 19th century hospital.Michael [her third husband, property developer Michael Pattemore] and I bought it seven years ago and I love it for its space and huge vaulted ceilings. As an actor, you live much of your life like a gypsy, so my home represents security and it is my sanctuary.
The unqualified regret you wish you could amend...That I didn’t go to university. I went to drama school right after my A-levels when I was 18 and I have always felt insecure intellectually. I’m 65 and even now I think of doing a History of Art degree, but I don’t know how I would find the time.
The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours, with no travel restrictions...I would have croissants and a big bowl of cafe au lait for breakfast in Montmartre, Paris, with Michael. We’d spend the morning walking around the city then fly to Positano, Italy, for lunch with my two sons, Michael (30) and Robert (25) and my stepson Brad (24). I’d have seafood linguine and some Neopolitan potato croquettes – potato with mozzarella and a basil leaf inside. They are amazing! I hardly drink these days, but I’d have a glass of Amarone red wine, then have a nice doze on the beach. I have never been to Japan, so I’d go to Tokyo in the afternoon for a tea ceremony with my sister Jean (60). In the evening I’d see a new play on Broadway, then have an Arnold Bennett omelette with chips for dinner back in London at The Delaunay. Michael and I would end the day in the bridal suite at the Athenaeum hotel on Piccadilly, which is where we spent our wedding night in 2008.
The temptation you wish you could resist...Clotted cream is paradise, but it is so bad for you on every level. I was obsessed with cream and meringue as a girl and this is a throwback to that. Cream is the taste of childhood because I was brought up on a farm.
The book that holds an everlasting resonance...The Wind in the Willows. I first read it when I was eight after my granny gave me the book and I still have that copy. I read it to my boys, so it has a nice constant thread in our family. It is a fabulous story with such wonderful characters, especially Mole because he loves his home so much – just like me!
The priority activity if you were the Invisible Woman for a day...I would stop men hitting the women they love. I would do something to distract them and make them think. I suffered domestic violence in my second marriage, so I know the damage it does. It is so important that it is stopped.
The pet-hate that makes your hackles rise...People who do not show respect for others. There’s an ignorance in the world at the moment, which leads to a total lack of consideration. I see it a lot in young people, but it is as if they don’t know any different, which makes me sad and angry.
The film you can watch time and time again...Lawrence of Arabia. I saw it at the cinema in 1962 and I was mesmerised. I must have seen it 20 times since and it never fails to move me. I had a crush on Peter O’Toole when I was younger. Those piercing blue eyes did it for me!
The person who has influenced you most...My father Donald. He was a bomber pilot in the Second World War. He had such humility and huge integrity. He was a very fair man who taught me the importance of the truth.
The figure from history for whom you’d most like to buy a pie and a pint...Joan of Arc. I would love to understand how she found the strength of belief in her faith. The challenges she faced were immense, yet she never faltered.
The piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child...Don’t ever let anyone frighten you. No one has the right to do that.
The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity...Serial killers! I have been utterly fascinated by them since I was a teenager and have read loads of books about them. I think my life has been so happy and full of love, that I am intrigued by the darkness of evil people. Killers like Dennis Nilsen are endlessly fascinating because he appeared so normal, yet he did unspeakable things.
The treasured item you lost and wish you could have again...My singing voice. At drama school I was tipped to perform in musicals but early in my career I was forced to hit ‘top Cs’ in productions that over-stretched my voice. It was completely wrecked and never recovered, which is sad.
The unending quest that drives you on...To see my three children own lovely houses. I am horrified at property prices and vow to do all I can to help them have the security of their own home – but I will probably have to win the Lottery!
The poem that touches your soul...Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. It is about the meaning of love and what makes it last. This is something I have grown to appreciate as I have got older. And when you understand it, you learn that love is a great energy giver that feeds your soul.
The misapprehension about yourself you wish you could erase...That I am calm and have everything sorted. This is what I have always presented to the world, but it takes a lot of stress and organising to appear the way I do! In reality I am like a duck going calmly going across the water, while underneath it is paddling like mad!
The event that altered the course of your life and character...Getting cancer. I was diagnosed on 2nd July 2013 and it was a shock that came totally out of left field. The biggest change for me is that I no longer feel in control and, as a consequence, I don’t take anything for granted.
The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it...I would free all those poor girls trapped in sex trafficking, then round up all those evil, cowardly men who run that business and make their lives utterly miserable and eating pig poo until the end of time.
The song that means most to you...Yesterday by The Beatles. This is Paul McCartney at his cherubic best. Above all, I love its melancholy and depth.
The happiest moment you will cherish forever...Knowing that I am not going to die any time soon. On the same day of my diagnosis, I was told that the prognosis is totally positive. There has been so much progress in medicine in recent years that getting cancer is no longer an automatic death sentence. I might have to take medication for the rest of my life, but so do people with diabetes.
The saddest time that shook your world...My parents dying within three weeks of each other in early 2005. My father died from a heart attack in his sleep when he was 86, and my mother Ruth was 84 when she died from a stroke after years of suffering from Alzheimer’s. They were wonderful, kind people who adopted me when I was four months old. When they both died I felt like an orphan again. It was only meeting Michael around that time that helped me get through it.
The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you...To win an Oscar for Best Actress when I am 75. Maybe I can get one for being best newcomer!
The philosophy that underpins your life...Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The order of service at your funeral...It will be at St Stephen Walbrook church in the City of London where I got married. I would come in to a piece from Elgar’s Enigma Variations and go out to All You Need Is Love by The Beatles. But just as I reach the door there will be a blast of There’s No Business Like Showbusiness to wake everyone up! I already know I am going to be buried in the cemetery at Crewkerne in Somerset – because two years ago Michael bought us a plot side-by-side there! He sent me a picture message to tell me. Very romantic!
The way you want to be remembered...Simply as a good woman.
The Plug...My debut novel Tell Me Tomorrow is out now, published by Simon & Schuster, priced £12.99. For details visit www.lyndabellingham.com.
Lynda Bellignham died in her husband’s arms at a London hospital on 19th October 2014 from colon cancer. She was 66.
Copyright: Rob McGibbon/Accessinterviews.com 2011 (2014). All rights reserved