Sylvia Syms sits in her lovely flat in west London explaining how she avoided being treated as a piece of meat in the 1950s. There was an "assumption that because you were blond and an actress, you were available," she says. Determined not to be "pretty, available and treated like shit", she took inspiration from Dame Sybil Thorndike.
"I thought, that's what I want," says Syms, who seems to have worked with every British screen legend – from Dirk Bogarde to Michael Caine – during her seven decades in film, TV and theatre. "I want to go on working when I'm an old lady and have that kind of jolliness and respect, which she had. She was just incredible."
Syms turns on me like a hawk.