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Glenda Jackson reveals why she’s returning to TV in a moving drama

Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth is Missing
Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth is Missing (Image credit: BBC/STV Productions)

Glenda Jackson on her TV comeback as a dementia patient in BBC1 drama Elizabeth is Missing

Over 25 years since Glenda Jackson made her last screen appearance she is back on TV in BBC1’s emotional mystery Elizabeth is Missing. The powerful one-off drama, based on Emma Healey’s best-selling novel, sees the double Oscar-winner play dementia sufferer Maud, who is concerned when her friend Elizabeth (Maggie Steed) disappears.

As Maud desperately tries to find Elizabeth, her condition worsens and she becomes haunted by flashbacks to when her sister Sukey (Sophie Rundle) vanished in the late 1940s. Can Maud solve both mysteries despite her growing confusion?

Glenda Jackson tells us about her harrowing role in Elizabeth is Missing…

What was it about Elizabeth is Missing that made you want to return to the screen?

Glenda Jackson: “The book is remarkable. We met a doctor from Dementia UK and she said it's one of the most accurate representations of Alzheimer’s she’s read. It was fascinating to be part of that. Because this is facing us all. People are living longer and the care for them isn't there. So I thought it was up to the minute and so human.”

How did you prepare to play someone with dementia?

GJ: “The book was immensely helpful and I didn't have to worry about being old because I am! Also, when I was an MP, I visited old people’s homes so I saw it first hand. For the families, it can be so traumatic.”

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Do you hope Elizabeth is Missing will enlighten people about dementia?

GJ: “What I hope is that the need will push up the priority to find the funding to provide care for an ageing population. It a big black hole around which none of the political parties is making any stand.”

What was it like to be in front of the camera again? Were there any nerves?

GJ: “Not as far as I was concerned. But I don't know how frightened others were of me perhaps falling over! The most amazing thing was the technical changes that have taken place.”

Has it given you a taste for more screen work?

GJ: “Yes, but the minute I've finished a job I think that's the last work I’ll ever have. I live in hope something nice will come to the door. I get offers but they're not particularly exciting!”

Do you miss the excitement of being in the Houses of Parliament?

GJ: “Excitement?! It can be one of the most boring places in the world. Although it certainly hasn't been boring over the last couple of years. I’m relieved there’s an election coming but whether we’ll be in exactly the same place afterwards we'll have to wait and see…”

Elizabeth is Missing airs on BBC1 on Sunday 8 December at 9pm