Alison Steadman: ‘As you get older, learning lines gets harder’

The actor on doing puzzles in bed, her Liverpool roots and watching wildlife


I am a good seven-hour person, although I find that now I am a bit older I need less. I like to do a simple crossword or puzzle or read a book for 20 minutes before I turn off the lights. We don’t have a TV in the bedroom, but I do use my mobile phone as an alarm clock, so it is at my bedside for that purpose only.


Once a fortnight, I will have a fry-up for breakfast – nice bacon, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs – but that is a treat. Jumbo oats porridge and a huge fresh fruit salad is my normal breakfast. At home, we sometimes don’t have breakfast till 10.30am or 11am; when I’m filming, I leave the house at 6am and have breakfast on set. The catering is often very good and provides wonderful salads for lunch, which I’ll have with some cheese. For dinner, I like cooking pasta with lots of fresh vegetables and tomato sauce.


As an actor, I have periods of intense work and then a break. As you get older, learning lines gets harder, since your brain is slower. I have a little office space at home where I often stare out the window at the bird feeders in the garden.


I keep in touch with my family via a WhatsApp group, so there are texts flying about most days. When I have a free weekend, I organise a get-together. I have a 10‑month-old grandson now, which is wonderful. My Liverpool roots are important to me. Sadly, my parents aren’t there any more, but my sister and friends are, so I visit every two or three months. I can’t bear the idea of never going back.


I like to watch wildlife in my local wood; I always take my binoculars and tick off all the birds I see on an app on my iPad. I also love bat walks, birdsong and tree-identification walks. One of my sons bought me a karaoke machine a few years ago. If I’m particularly stressed learning lines, I sing along to a few songs by Nina Simone, Adele or Susan Boyle.

Alison Steadman stars in Scarlet City, now available on

Roz Lewis

The GuardianTramp

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