Actress Penelope Keith returns to the Everyman Theatre
Make a list of great British actresses, and it surely wouldn't be too long before you added Penelope Keith.
As the indomitable Margo in the smash '70s sitcom The Good Life and the equally strong-willed Audrey Fforbes-Hamilton in To The Manor Born, the much-loved star carved a name for herself as one of the best comic actresses ever to come from these shores.
These days, we're less likely to see her on prime time TV, but it doesn't mean she's showing any signs of slowing down.
Her latest role, as recently bereaved June Pepper in Keith Waterhouse's Good Grief, proves she still has all the comic prowess which made her one of the most bankable names in showbusiness.
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The show opens at Cheltenham's Everyman Theatre on Monday and runs until next Saturday, a welcome return for the actress who performed here as a young woman before her big television break in the 1970s.
She also spent time in the town in the mid '90s, filming the sitcom Next of Kin on location in Tivoli.
Penelope, now 72, said: "There isn't a lot of television work for us women who have been around for a long time – I know you hear that a lot.
"But most of my generation were trained for the stage so that is where we tend to work."
Penelope loves being on tour and likes to make the most of wherever she happens to be visiting.
"It's wonderful to see new places, especially places that you might not normally see," she said.
This tour will take her to seven towns and cities across the UK before ending with a West End run next month.
"It is just the right length and we finish on November 17 so I can then get all ready for Christmas," she said.
Despite being on stage for almost the entire show, Penelope hasn't found it too hard to learn all her lines.
"You have to be persistent," she says. "You have to put the work in but I firmly believe that you have a learning muscle that, if you use, keeps working well."
One thing that undoubtedly helps is Penelope's attitude to keeping in good shape.
She always makes sure she looks after herself while on tour, eating sensibly and resting often.
"'I do try to put my feet up for about an hour and a half in the afternoon," she said.
"And I like to eat well, to keep well – salads are a real favourite."
So far, the actress has no work lined up after Christmas – not that she's worried, adding: "That is the joy of it – you are never too sure."