Fundraiser Maureen Lipman promises jokes and fun... but no life story

ACTRESS and writer Maureen Lipman is a household name – so much so that even she describes herself as the Domestos for showbusiness .

ACTRESS and writer Maureen Lipman is a household name - so much so that even she describes herself as the "Domestos for showbusiness".

Now everybody's favourite Jewish mother (remember those BT adverts?) is preparing for a night of gossip to raise money for The Whittington Hospital.

The Whittington, in Magdala Avenue, Archway, recently escaped the proposed axeing of its A&E, maternity ward and intensive care unit.

So when Maureen was asked to help raise vital cash for the hospital's Care of Older People Appeal, she was only too happy to say yes.

Maureen, who lived in Muswell Hill for 30 years before moving to Paddington three years ago, said: "When my father was staying with me, he had a fall and I took him to The Whittington. Friends have also had wonderful care there, including the actress Eve Pearce, who has had orthopaedic and cancer treatment. There is a huge catchment area that really needs a hospital.

"The Whittington has been very good for people, so why make people go to a place like the Royal Free in Hampstead where you can't park and that is hard to get to?

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"I haven't had such good experiences at the Royal Free - and my late husband (the playwright Jack Rosenthal) was there briefly."

The event, which is raising money for facilities for frail OAPs aged 75-plus, will see Maureen and a couple of showbiz friends - such as the Dinnerladies actress Anne Reid - perform monologues from her new book, I Must Collect Myself.

"It will be a mish-mash of jokes and performance and songs and improvisation - and I hope we will raise a lot of money," said Maureen. "I could just sit down and talk about my life, but I would rather not - because I'd get bored."

Maureen may get bored spilling the beans on her life, but no doubt many of her former neighbours would love to hear tales of life, love and shopping in Paddington, where she lives with dog Diva and rabbit Warren.

"In that respect, I am a household object. I'm like Domestos for showbusiness," said Maureen, whose book is being published in November.

At 64 - and having played roles such as the protagonist's mother in Roman Polanski's The Pianist, the snooty landlady Lillian Spencer in Coronation Street, and a futuristic baddie in BBC series Dr Who - Maureen can boast more than 40 years in the business.

"It's true that there are not that many parts for older women," Maureen admitted. "But then there never have been and there never will be. Youth is a lot more interesting.

"You have pretty much got to be able to take smaller parts as you get older.

"If your name is more of the Domestos variety, then you can always make a speech, open a fete, do a panel game and look after yourself. So I am a bit more fortunate in that respect. And you can always play some old biddy who is losing her mind in Casualty."

But if anyone thinks that being in her 60s means Maureen will think twice before poking fun at others who are also leaving youth behind - even at an event specifically put on to raise money for OAPs - then they can think again.

"With political correctness, it's very difficult to make jokes. But you can still make jokes about politicians, animals and old people," Maureen chuckled. "You may have heard the jokes before. But at that age, you can't remember."

AN EVENING with Maureen Lipman and friends is taking place at Highgate School, in North Road, Highgate, on Sunday, at 7pm. To book, ring 020 7288 5641/5983 or log on to