'As long as my clothes fit I am happy… Obviously I will never be as thin as I was in my youth': Under the microscope with Sian Phillips
00:35 GMT, 25 September 2012
The actress, 79, on how she keeps trim, Elizabeth Taylor's hangover cure and what has made her sad recently
'I walk endlessly – for hours every day,' said Sian Phillips
WHEN DID YOU LAST WEIGH YOURSELF
Years and years ago. But as long as my clothes fit I am happy. I am size 12 now, which is fine for my height of 5ft 7in. Obviously I will never be as thin as I was in my youth, when I was a size 8. I used to constantly be on some sort of diet — the cabbage diet and so on. I decided years ago not to do that any more.
SO HOW DO YOU KEEP TRIM
I walk endlessly — for hours every day. I even walk to the West End from my home in Spitalfields, East London. And I do a very serious form of Pilates. My teacher is very tough.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR DIET
I just avoid certain things — wheat, sugar and dairy, apart from the skimmed milk in my cappuccino. I also hardly ever eat meat. I try to eat fish, but I don’t really like it, so I am mainly vegetarian.
Coffee. I love it! I try not to drink it after lunch, but usually fail. I can even drink it late at night and still sleep well.
POP ANY PILLS
Quite a lot, but I can’t tell you what they are. I know zinc comes into it and Vitamin C. Every two years I have a blood test, then a nutritionist figures out what supplements I need and sends me them.
ANY HEALTH PROBLEMS
I’m pretty healthy, although I have ongoing eczema, which I’ve had since I was six. It flares up at times of stress — it used to flash all over my body when I was a child. Because of this I had a really difficult childhood.
'I used to constantly be on some sort of diet,' said Sian
SO HOW DO YOU TREAT THE ECZEMA
Cortisone. I was 19 when it was invented, and I announced the news myself on BBC Radio Wales where I worked as a presenter. The minute I finished my shift I rushed to get some — it saved my life. You are not supposed to use it long-term, but I’ve used it ever since. I just use a smidge now, and if I don’t the eczema starts again.
My father died in his 60s — it was found he must have had TB when he was a boy. My mother lived to be 85 — she got lung cancer because she started smoking again, having stopped for many years. I myself was an Olympic smoker, but I gave it up in 1979 after going to a hypnotist. I turn down parts now if there is smoking involved — it would be like giving a drink to an alcoholic.
I have cranial osteopathy if I’m really exhausted or have too much work on.
I don’t drink, but in days gone by I swore by Elizabeth Taylor’s hangover cure, Fernet Branca, for all my friends. Then, one day, I looked at the bottle properly and found it was choc-a-bloc with alc-ohol! I lost confidence in it after that.
EVER BEEN DEPRESSED
I’m touching wood, but I don’t think so. I’ve been sad of, course. For instance when my close male friend died not so long ago I just couldn’t get over it. I still haven’t quite. Losing that happy, daily contact was very difficult.
LIKE TO LIVE FOR EVER
Yes. Life is exciting and there are so many things I don’t get round to.
Sian stars in Cabaret at the Savoy Theatre, London, from October 3. Tickets: atgtickets.com