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Dame Joan Collins on Joan Collins Unscripted

The actress and entertainer explains what we can expect from her new show, where her energy comes from and her work-life balance

Dame Joan Collins
Dame Joan Collins

You are about to head out on your all-new UK Tour, what can we expect?
Joan Collins: I so enjoyed my ten years performing One Night with Joan all over the world that I am delighted to be doing an entirely new show. It is called Joan Collins Unscripted and that is exactly what it will be. We go on stage each night with a blank sheet, so it will lead to a different show each night. It’s going to be an intimate, hilarious and wonderfully stylish night with me, my husband Percy and a few hundred dear friends reliving some great stories, great times and some of the fascinating people I’ve met along the way. I like to joke about everything – my men, my marriages, my life. Nothing is off limits. Each performance will be different so if you liked me in Salford come see me in London… and if you don't then stay at home and watch Corrie!

You have described Percy as 'the greatest love of your life', and he's appearing on stage with you. How important is Percy’s support on stage?
JC: We simply love being with each other. Percy and I are soulmates – we like the same things, we laugh at the same things and that is so important. You could say I kissed a lot of frogs along the way, but I finally found the prince! It is totally a love match, but also a friends match so having him alongside me each night as we tour the country, playing to such wonderful audiences, will be a special moment for use both. We cannot wait.

You must have plenty of hilarious anecdotes from over the course of your amazing career. Do any of your former co-stars need to be worried?
JC: Well it depends if they've got a sense of humour or not…and of course some of them are dead!

You'll be playing a date at the London Palladium. Does the theatre hold many special memories for you?
JC: I am particularly looking forward to the Palladium date because as I kid I used to go there often with my father and see variety shows. I remember seeing Johnny Ray there, Arthur Askey, Tommy Cooper – all those people that I love. I love Variety. The Palladium is steeped in history, tradition and fun. It is a venue I have loved performing at down the years and this is going to be one special night.

This tour shows you are still prepared to put in the hard work. Do you feel this work ethic is missing from the entertainment industry today?
JC: I have never shirked putting the hours in. When I started out that’s how you got on in this business. There are many young people who want to be ‘celebrities’ but not put the effort or hours in. They don’t want to do the training, go to drama school and study technique. They just want to be famous. It breaks my heart that people want it on a plate when to be really good and work with the best takes talent and a hell of a lot of hard work.

So you show no signs of taking your foot off the gas?
JC: My mantra is ‘Don’t waste time’. Life is ever so sweet but it sure is short. You have to enjoy life, and I live totally in the present.I don’t feel any different from when I was 40. You’ve got to keep working and I love my work. I have a lifestyle I figure I’ve earned, I have three children and three grandchildren to support after all! But above all the reason why I am so active and so loving new projects is I love the work, the acting, the writing and, of course, my one-woman show.

Where does the energy come from?
JC: I’ve always been restless, from when I was a young child. I have to move around and keep busy. My mother used to call me ‘Miss Perpetual Motion’ because I never kept still for a second. My restlessness became ingrained in me from such a young age. I guess that is why I have always loved to keep on the move, to travel and most importantly work. One thing in life, I never want to be a crashing bore. I want to be amusing, entertaining and keep busy. I think I do OK on that front!

How do you balance life with work?
JC: I try to spend time with my children and grandchildren as often as possible, in St Tropez especially. And I catch up with friends whenever I’m in town – be that London, New York or LA. Both myself and Percy like to travel. I’ve always considered myself a wanderer, a gypsy and that will never change. Next year we are really looking forward to seeing some places we’ve never been to before.

You’ve spent the summer shooting The Time of Their Lives in France. What can you tell us about the project and what is it like working with your good friend Pauline?
JC: I was very excited by the script. There are very few roles today for women aged over 45, let alone over 65. The fact that it's a buddy movie along the lines of Thelma and Louise, with a hint of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, really interested me. People are sick to death of watching shoot 'em ups, blood and gore and explosions – those films for the 12 to 30-year-old market. It's time producers realised that people also want to see stories about mature adults, not only teenagers.

So, once your tour is over what is next for you?
JC: A good long rest!

Buy tickets for Joan Collins Unscripted here

Joan Collins – Unscripted opens at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton 9 September and then tours the UK until 5 October. Her new novel The St Tropez Lonely Hearts Club is out now in paperback (Constable).