Alison Steadman: 'A gang of lads saw me and shouted "Pamela!" It really gave me a thrill'

 

I was proud to be involved in the first lesbian kiss on TV It was in 1974 in a BBC play called Girl, with Myra Frances, and it got a lot of reaction at the time. Then, when Brookside came on years later, people said "Ooh, Anna Friel did this kiss with another woman, and it was the first time on TV." And I'm like, no, actually it was me!

I thought I'd never top 'Abigail's Party' [the award-winning film, in which Steadman starred as a monstrous suburban housewife], particularly when even now, 35 years on, people say to me they're still watching it. But then Gavin & Stacey came along. I was in my car at the lights a few months ago and a gang of lads pulled up next to me, saw me, and all started shouting "Pamela!" and cheering. It really gave me a thrill.

Performing on stage is terrifying Each play I do, I worry that this is the one where the critics are going to say, "My god, this is awful, did she really think she could act?" Winning an Olivier for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice in 1993 did help to reduce that worry, but that confidence didn't last long.

Without empathy you can't fulfil life as a good human being My parents were lovely people and made me see things from others' perspectives. If you don't do that, that's how you can be cruel to others.

I try to live a plastic-free existence It's virtually impossible, though, as we are drowning in a sea of consumer plastic. I've stopped using shower gel and shampoo, as they come in plastic containers, and I just use soap. I email the supermarkets constantly to ask why they use all that packaging.

I was never one for going to concerts I went to one Rolling Stones concert and I was terrified as everyone was climbing over me to get closer to the front. In the 1960s everyone used to go mad at a gig – they go mad now, but not in the theatre-wrecking, climbing-up-the-balcony way they did back then.

It was exciting working with Tom Jones for my latest project. [King of the Teds] is a 30-minute drama and I'm starring in it with Brenda Blethyn and Tom. It was his first time acting so he was always looking to me, saying, "What do I do here? Do I get up and go over there now?" It's strange to be in position where you're guiding Tom Jones. He's quiet off stage, but after a day or so he started chatting about his amazing life, saying, "When I met Elvis..." which was brilliant.

I love insects particularly those harmless little silverfish, that come up your pipe into the bath. If only you knew what a marvel they are, you wouldn't stamp on them; did you know they have this amazing three-phase courtship? But the sad thing is, though they're harmless, when you Google them, the first thing that's comes up is how to kill them.

Alison Steadman, 65, is an English stage and screen actor. She appears in the half-hour drama 'King of the Teds', part of the Playhouse Presents series, on Sky Arts 1 on Thursday at 9pm (sky.com/arts)

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