(Amanda Vickery’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/14.)

Is it any wonder actresses are neurotic about their appearance? If anyone ever doubted the sexist scrutiny they are up against, Michael Parkinson's 1975 interview with Helen Mirren (a YouTube sensation) is a sobering reminder. "Critics spend as much time discussing her physical attributes as assessing her acting ability," says Parky, by way of introduction for the "sex queen" of the RSC, that byword for "sluttish eroticism". Nor does he seem much interested in Mirren's acting, either. "You are, in quotes, a 'serious actress'; do you find what might best be described as your equipment hinders you in that pursuit?"


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