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Older people undervalued by TV soap operas

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 25, 2014

Timothy West says soaps are lacking strong older roles, like Ena Sharples

Timothy West says soaps are lacking strong older roles, like Ena Sharples

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TV soaps have undervalued older people, EastEnders' actor Timothy West has said.

The stage and screen star, 79, enjoyed a guest stint as businessman Eric Babbage in Coronation Street last year and has since joined BBC1 soap EastEnders.

Asked whether there are enough older people in soaps, he told Radio Times magazine: "I find they're not valued so much and I suspect that's one of the reasons why I've been brought in (to EastEnders).

"From what I hear, there hasn't been enough interest in older characters. Or enough older characters to be interested in."

The veteran actor said that he signed up to play ill-tempered retired fishmonger Stan Carter "because it's a good part" and added that he has "enormous respect" for his 87-year-old Albert Square co-star June Brown (Dot Branning). EastEnders, whose new faces include hardman actor Danny Dyer as Queen Vic landlord and Stan's son Mick Carter, has been undergoing a revamp as part of an attempt to reinvigorate the drama following a ratings slump.

Annette Badland, 63, who plays busybody Babe Smith, was also brought into the soap to help reinvigorate its older generation.

West said of today's television: "I do miss things like the single play. It was the event of the week. Now you have more channels, you don't get that conversation at the bus stop about what you saw last night."

The actor and his wife, Fawlty Towers actress Prunella Scales, recently embarked on four canal journeys across Britain for a More4 documentary.

They are both keen supporters of the Kennet and Avon Canal, which runs through Wiltshire.

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