Jennifer Saunders talks The Traitors, retirement and titting about (Picture: Getty)
Jennifer Saunders, 64, talks about her latest film role in what she describes as a love letter to the NHS, as well as the reasons she’s been blessed with such long-lasting relationships, why you shouldn’t throw things away tomorrow if you can do it today and how she’s ended up with no nose lining…
Why should Metro readers go see the film Allelujah?
It’s a film based on a play by Alan Bennett. So there’s already a reason to see it. It’s directed by Richard Eyre. There’s another reason. Starring the likes of Judi Dench and Derek Jacobi – two more good reasons. And I’m in it. Meh!
It’s a sort of love letter to the NHS, really. It’s set in a rundown hospitalin a Yorkshire village and it’s a funny, heartwarming story about old age and how it’s going to happen to us all and we’ve somehow got to get through it. It has a twist that we’re not allowed to reveal…
Who do you play?
I play Sister Gilpin, a pragmatic nurse who runs a geriatric ward at this hospital that’s loved by the community, who are trying their best to save it because it’s a hospital that does actually care. And Sister Gilpin cares but she’s frustrated by a broken system. She’s no Nurse Ratched [from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest] but she wants everything to be run smoothly.
Alan Bennett, one of Britain’s greatest playwrights (Picture: Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Did Alan Bennett visit the set? I imagine he’s a bit hypochondriac…
He’s also extremely old! Shooting in the middle of winter, in the wing of a freezing cold rundown ex-hospital wasn’t pleasant. It was during the pandemic, so we had to poke a bloody stick up our nose every single hour, it seemed to me. I’ve barely any nose lining left! But Alan Bennett did come and visit the set and it was like being visited by Shakespeare. It was like, ‘Oh my God, he’s here! He’s here!’ People bandy the term ‘national treasure’ about, but he is that. He’s so well-loved.
Jennifer stars alongside Dame Judi Dench in Allelujah (Picture: Getty)
Had you and Dame Judi collaborated before? Dench & Saunders!
Hmm. I think last year in the Comic Relief skit of Repair Shop was the first time. But honestly my memory is so bad…
Dame Mary Berry, Claudia Winkelman, Dawn French and Jennifer in Comic Relief’s Traitors spoof (Picture: BBC)
Speaking of Comic Relief, we can’t wait to see your spoof of Traitors.
That’s mainly Dawn French, I have to say. There’s quite a lot of heavy fringe. Richard Curtis wrote it with someone else. I’m just in it for a bit.
How do you think you’d do on Traitors?
Well, you’d like to think you’d do quite well. I was absolutely hooked. Is it …read more