Why it's time to speak out!

Why it's time to speak out!
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Pic © REX, Steve Meddle                       Words by Alison James

Sherrie Hewson is a passionate woman on issues she feels strongly about – and one such issue is the way the over 50s seem to be regarded as ‘past it’ in our youth-obsessed culture.

“No one should have a metaphorical age stuck on their foreheads,” she says. “It’s really bad in this country, it’s all ‘You are this age and so this is how you should behave, you can’t have long hair or wear knee-length black boots. You have to look a certain way, behave a certain way…

“It only seems to happen here and it really annoys me. I work in Spain filming Benidorm for four months of the year, and they don’t have that kind of mindset there. No matter what your age, everyone mixes in as people sit with their friends and families in the bars, sometimes dancing Flamenco until two or three in the morning.

“Nobody ever says, ‘Don’t you think you’re too old for this?’ They’d cut the legs off anyone who dared! I’ve been working with Shearings Holidays recently and I’m happy to say they take a more continental view and don’t judge people by their age.

“It seems to me that the older you get, the more fun you want to have. I can’t bear words like pensioner and phrases such as senior citizen – they infer you’re past it, and that’s rubbish.

“My mum was 89 when she died, but up until near the end she went out dancing every night, she sailed, she went on skiing holidays… She never thought, ‘Oh I’m a certain age so
I mustn’t do that any more!’

“It’s important we all stand up and say and do the same. We must stop being so timid and down-trodden. Get out there, do what you want! Go bungee-jumping if it’s what you’ve always dreamed of. Don’t let anyone stop you from being who you are.

“Having your health is obviously important, but I’m saying we must have the right mindset, too. We must believe in ourselves and stop listening to negative people who only think in stereotypes. We need to stand up in Britain and say enough is enough!”

Wow! ‘Vote Sherrie Hewson,’ we say. She smiles. “It is beginning to change. There are more women over 50 in the media and in TV dramas, for instance. Look at shows like Last Tango in Halifax and Bloomers, with fabulous actresses such as Anne Reid and Alison Steadman. Then there’s Julie Walters, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench… incredible talents still at the height of their powers.

“Peter Fincham, the Director of Television for ITV, recognises the worth of older women on TV, which is wonderful. It’s about time we were celebrated. It’s the same with Loose Women – yes, we have younger women on the panel, but we also have the likes of Janet Street Porter, Judy Finnegan and Gloria Hunniford who, like me, are in their 60s.”

Sherrie (64) is the longest-serving Loose Woman, having notched up 12 years on the panel. “It is amazing,” she says. “But then so is the programme. Loose Women goes through peaks and troughs like any other show but it’s unique and stands firm. There’s nothing else like it on TV. In my time I’ve met screen legends such as Bette Midler and Alan Alda, as well as all the actors from Friends. It’s also been an enormous help to me personally. It’s a bit like therapy - the other Loose Women have seen me through tough times, including bankruptcy and divorce.”

Sherrie is definitely a survivor. “I’m a fighter; I didn’t always see eye to eye with my mother but I’ve inherited her spirit and I shoot from the lip! I come from a family of matriarchs as my grandmother was the same as my mother. ‘Let’s get on with it’ is my mantra. When you fall down you get up again and you don’t feel sorry for yourself. I’ve had to be strong because I’ve been both mum and dad to my wonderful daughter, Keeley. She really is my rock and I don’t know what I’d do without her. Plus she’s given me two wonderful grandchildren, Ollie and Molly. Possibly my only regret in life is that I didn’t give Keeley a sibling. I love spending time with the grandchildren. I dote on them even though they wear me out!

“I especially love cooking with them and I wrote a cookery book, Nana’s Kitchen, which was published earlier this year.”

In addition to presenting Loose Women and planning more books, Sherrie’s heading to Hull next month to star in the panto Aladdin, and then there is, of course, smash ITV hit Benidorm, in which she plays snooty hotel manager Joyce Temple-Savage.

“How could I be so lucky as to have a role like Joyce?” she ponders. “What an amazing character to play. She was written with me in mind and I love her. She may be nasty at times but she always seems to get things wrong, which is very endearing. The time we spend in Spain making Benidorm are the funniest four months of my life
– and, yes, sometimes I’m out ’til two or three in the morning!”

Sherrie shares a secret

She’d love to go back into Corrie and play Maureen Holdsworth again. “It would be brilliant. Ideally Maureen would have an affair with Ken Barlow who is, of course, played by the lovely Bill Roache. When she was living in the Street in the Nineties, Maureen never had an illicit fling with anyone so it would be great fun if she could now.”

There's more star chat in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday