It’s 27 years since acclaimed actress Glenda Jackson’s last TV role.
And she’s picked a fascinating project for her return.
In this one-off drama, based on a best-selling book by Emma Healey, she plays elderly Maud, who has dementia.
When her best friend Elizabeth (Maggie Steed) vanishes, Maud is convinced something terrible has happened.
Her hunt for the truth leads to an even darker mystery – the disappearance 70 years before of Maud’s sister Sukey (Sophie Rundle).
Can Maud discover their fate before dementia wipes out the clues, and the answers are lost for ever?
During her long career, Glenda – who was last on television in 1992’s The Secret Life of Arnold Bax – is one of very few people to hold the acting ‘triple crown’, having won an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony Award. You can add a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and a CBE to the list too.
Yet, now 83, she says she’s still grateful to get parts.
‘The minute I finish a job I’m convinced that’s the last time I’ll ever work, and that hasn’t changed over all the decades as far as I’m concerned,’ she says.
Glenda did walk away from acting for years, though.
She stood as a Labour candidate at the 1992 General Election, and served as an MP until 2015.
She says politics gave her an insight into this tale’s subject matter.
‘We are an ageing population, and although it’s nice to have more years, the years can be dotted with terrible things,’ she says.
‘When I was still a Member of Parliament, I would visit old people’s homes and see people who were suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, and their families were suffering too.
'I was also privileged to meet a doctor who specialises in dementia and she said the book was very accurate.
'She remarked, quite profoundly I thought, that it was presented as being so unsentimental. That was very useful.’
Her character Maud’s daughter Helen is played by Helen Behan, who used to work in nursing.
‘Being a nurse I handed over to someone else at the end of a shift,’ says Helen.
‘Being the person that’s there all the time, dealing with the emotion as well as the physical act of caring, is much more difficult.
‘I also spoke to friends who had cared for their parents and tried to get into their mindset and psyche.
‘Horrendous things are happening daily and Helen doesn’t have time to cry or be upset.
She falters, but she is a single mother who is trying to get everybody through each day.’
This moving tale is sure to strike a chord with viewers, whether they are thinking about ageing relatives or their own health.
And it certainly affected Glenda…
‘There were days when I thought I had contracted the illness,’ she admits. ‘But that went away.
‘Maud is sometimes in the here and now, more often in the past, and then sometimes very bleakly in the future.
'What she is, is a person.’
Viewers will no doubt relish Glenda’s small-screen return, but though she has no work lined up after Elizabeth Is Missing, the situation has not been a worry to her.
‘If something comes through the door, that would be nice,’ she says. ‘But offers always come as a surprise to me and they always have.’
Let’s hope there are more surprises in store…
– Elizabeth is Missing, Sunday 9pm BBC1
Source: Read Full Article