Portrait: Lipman's test

Her mother's idea of good taste was to wear a green dress with eyeshadow to match. But today Maureen Lipman wears clothes with elegant ease (even if she can't resist the odd chicken costume)

In my early years I sensed disappointment. My mother, Zelma, had a nice blond boy whose hair she religiously twinkied, then she got a rather sallow, narrow-eyed, beige-haired girl, and she was mystified. She is the only woman I have ever met who is totally satisfied with the way she looks, and, to me, her bemusement conveyed the message: "You don't look like me, and I'm perfectly happy with myself. You look like your father." To this day, if someone gives me a compliment, I say, "Well, yes, I do scrub up nicely," because I have this belief that nothing about me is naturally good-looking, and I have to work at it.

To be a comedienne, you're supposed to have had a tough background, but the only thing I can really complain about is that my mother made me over- aware of matching accessories, to the point where I would just assume that if you had a green dress, you would get your shoes painted green, with eyeshadow the same shade. On my first day at drama school I was completely coordinated in green. Someone told me afterwards I'd looked like a blade of grass.

Zelma always had me "bandbox" neat. Every Yom Kippur I would have a nice new suit, but at the expense of several Saturdays in C&A or Hammond's of Hull, tearing each other apart. The suit I remember most clearly was navy - because navy's always best, isn't it? Navy and white you can't beat. It had a box jacket and pleated skirt, and I wore it with what we called my "dog's dinner" hat and patent shoes. But, like most of the clothes then - and often now, when I make mistakes - it wore me.

In the teenage years there was a lot of struggling in cubicles, and saying to assistants in bra shops: "She needs plenty of support," and me wanting to die. Then the Sixties bit, and I was on my own. I bought everything from Granny Takes a Trip, or Biba. My mother would come to meet me at Hull station, and she used to dread me getting off the train. But I was getting it together by now, because, bless her, she had given me a strong sense of fashion. On the whole, I do wear clothes well, and gradually, in my twenties, I developed my own style.

It's not just fashion; I love fancy dress. I'm incredibly happy in a chicken costume, I'm unable to resist something that makes me laugh. In America I bought a white cable-knit zip-front cardigan with fake-fur collar and cuffs, and pockets made like mittens. I thought, "Who will buy this if I don't?"

I've still got stuff from the Sixties that I can't bear to part with. I wore my wedding dress for my silver wedding anniversary. It was Gina Fratini, petrol blue, with a low neck and leg-of-mutton sleeves.

People used to try to persuade me to change my nose, but I wouldn't. I don't know if that was a bad decision. I should probably have had a different career if I had done. I've never been particularly happy with anything about myself: I had sticking-out-teeth, I'm short sighted, with not the best of noses. But I can put it all together into something interesting.

I have trouble with anything that takes any time. I hate sitting in the hairdressers, I never have a manicure, I stick to the grungy bits of make- up I've had in my bag for years. And I pay pounds 60 a month not to go to a health club.

In my forties I went through a good patch. I got that sort of glow you're supposed to get when you're pregnant (whereas, when I was pregnant I just looked like a distended emu).

For Aunt Eller in Oklahoma, I sponged the lines around my eyes so they looked sun-bleached, and I had broken veins and wonderful, grey hair. I loved playing the matriarch, but in real life I probably dress a bit younger than I should, and I may be about to become very neurotic. I shall start looking in the mirror a lot more, putting a lot more things on my face, and doing a lot more splashing of the breasts.

All the pictures of me as a child are tourist pictures. I'm astride a lion in Trafalgar Square, in Capri pants. Or at a birthday party, in a smock dress, blowing out the candles - ptthhhh! So I don't have an image of myself just being me. But occasionally, when I feel bad about myself, I try to think about the little girl in all the photographs, and to feel very warm towards her, because if you can do that, you're likely to feel better about yourself.

Maureen Lipman will be starring in a new stage- to-screen adaptation of `Oklahoma!', to be shown on Sky Premier, at 8pm on 24 September.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

    £65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

    PSHE Teacher - Chester

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Teachers with a passion for PSHE neede...

    Humanities Teacher

    £85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

    PSHE Teachers needed for exciting project

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Teachers with a passion for PSHE neede...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits