Dame Maureen Lipman: It was a world record for me to keep quiet for nine weeks!
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Dame Maureen Lipman: It was a world record for me to keep quiet for nine weeks!

Upon receiving an honour from Her Majesty the Queen, the much-loved Corrie actress reflects on her journey from granddaughter of a Lithuanian immigrant to Buckingham Palace

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Maureen Lipman. Photo credit: David Jensen/PA Wire
Maureen Lipman. Photo credit: David Jensen/PA Wire

Awards for those in the creative arts were headed by new Dame, Maureen Lipman CBE, honoured for her long career on stage, TV and film. Her citation notes many memorable roles such as Aunt Eller in Oklahoma, numerous sitcoms and more recent work in The Fugitives, Jonathan Creek, and Coronation Street. She is also a prolific writer, with a decade-long column in Good Housekeeping and a current column in The Oldie.

 Dame Maureen made her first film appearance in Up The Junction in 1968, and featured in Roman Polanskis award winning The Pianist. Following the death of her husband, Jack Rosenthal, she completed his unfinished autobiography and starred in her daughter Amy Rosenthals four-part adaptation of the book on BBC Radio 4.  

She supports the work of Burma Campaign UK, and the process of democratisation in that country. She is also the patron of International Myeloma Foundation UK.

Dame Maureen said: “I’m a little bit relieved that I can talk about this now — you have to sit on the information for so long, and extreme discretion is not my forte. Pretty much a world record for me to keep quiet for nine weeks”. 

More seriously, she said, she felt “touched and sentimental” about the honour. “When I think about my grandfather, who I never knew, getting on a boat from Kovne and coming here, landing in Hull and thinking it was New York… I think about Hull, which gave me a full grant for going to drama school. To become a dame in one generation says a lot about immigrants and about how kind treatment can give back to society. It makes me feel very small in this world, that such a thing can happen so quickly”.

Speaking from Manchester, where she is working on Coronation Street, the new dame paid tribute to her agent, Michelle Burke, who had seen the role she plays in the soap opera, Evelyn Plummer, and had said “that’s got Maureen written all over it”.  

As a huge fan of the Queen, Dame Maureen hopes that her investiture will be conducted by Her Majesty “on a posh Zoom from Windsor Castle”. She had heard a rumour that the Queen was a secret fan of Coronation Street, though believed she would never really be sure.

She said she had received messages of congratulations from many people, including the actress with whom she has had many public disagreements over Israel, Miriam Margolyes.

“I thought it was very warm and generous of her to send a message,” Dame Maureen said, “and I said, let’s end the broiges here and now”. 

She said she regarded the honour as “an extra gold star in the exercise book” and something for the whole community to enjoy.

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