'Use it or lose it' says Joanna Lumley, 75, as she vows to 'keep going'

·4 min read
Joanna Lumley poses for a picture as she attends an event held by Richard Moore, director of Children in Crossfire, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Joanna is happy to embrace ageing. (REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne)

Few people have genuinely earned the status of 'national treasure', but Joanna Lumley is surely up there. From her days as the icily glamorous sci fi agent in Sapphire and Steel to her unforgettable Ab Fab years as the iconic Patsy, and her campaign to allow the Gurkhas to settle in Britain, she's remained in the headlines and seemingly never ages.

She is now a venerable 75, an age where most are hanging up their dancing shoes and settling by the fire. But Lumley is not ready for retirement. She has opened up about her views on age in the December issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine, saying, "I'd just got used to writing my age as 69 and I thought my goodness, that has gone fast. 

Watch: Joanna Lumley vows never to retire

"The truth is, in your head, you haven't really changed at all. Of course, everything about you is changing - your arms are getting older, your hair is getting whiter and you have slightly less stamina. 

"But I'm a big believer that you either use it or lose it, so I really just try to keep going."

She also notes that 'grandmothers' are not what they were - and can be just as glamorous as they always were. Her own teenaged grandchildren live in the North of Scotland, but she says, she loves to go to museums and take them on walks when they do meet up.

The much loved actor and TV presenter is married to Steven, a conductor, and they have just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. It's clear that ageing is not a problem she dwells on - in fact, she says she embraces it.

Actress Joanna Lumley at Nepalese restaurant Panas Gurkha in Lewisham, south London, which has been providing free meals during the coronavirus pandemic. The restaurant is set to deliver the 100,000th free meal since the start of the outbreak to the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich . Picture date: Thursday March 11, 2021.
Joanna takes sensible precautions. (Getty Images)

" I have always loved getting older, so being 70 is fabulous," she said five years ago. "I have always just felt like me, the numbers are incidental. You never lose the little you who is within you. 

"We are like trees, we grow more and more circles, more layers as we grow older but inside us is always the person you were when you were tiny. To be 70 and still working, I have been very lucky. Mind you, I have also worked jolly hard."

Read more: Joanna Lumley says some Ab Fab jokes would never make it to screen now

On the secret of her youthful outlook, she added, "(on my 12th birthday) I remember thinking, I will remember being 12 because this is the best birthday ever. And I feel like I am 12 every day. It is quite wonderful."

Although Lumley is vaccinated and takes sensible COVID precautions, she recently said: “By the pandemic, I’m classified as technically vulnerable, but I’m not a worrying kind of person. I’m a little bit kismet – either it will come and get you, sadly, or it won’t. Although I’m 112 years old, I’m quite fit and youthful, so I haven’t worried about it."

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Joanna Lumley celebrates The Elephant Family's CoExistence campaign at a special exhibition featuring elephant sculptures crossing The Mall on May 15, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Joanna Lumley celebrates The Elephant Family's CoExistence campaign 2021 (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

She told another magazine last year, "I always loved getting older. I want to be 30 when I’m 18, I want to be 50 when I’m 30, I want to be 70 when I’m 50, and now I’m 74. Waiting for 90 years old! “

Her reason for enjoying the process, she explained, is the lack of fear age brings.

“Older people are no longer afraid. (Younger people), they are worried that they may look wrong, sound wrong, do not do it right, he may drop you, she may not like you....

“Only experience can teach that no one in the world is looking at you.

Read more: Joanna Lumley suggests wartime-like rationing to tackle climate change

“Like the fear of dying, all other kinds of things begin to disappear. I’m not afraid of it, and the closer I get to it, the more I’m more interested in making a good death."

She's happy to keep working, she said, adding she'd love to star in another Ab Fab film.

“When you’re acting, acting will retire you. So when you haven’t been asked to do anything for five years, I think you can assume you are retired, but I’m still working away.”

Watch: Joanna Lumley urges government to meet 'brave and loyal' Gurkhas veterans

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