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Lesley Joseph 'feels half her age' after accepting Strictly challenge

Published 09/10/2016

Lesley Joseph is the oldest competitor in this year's show
Lesley Joseph is the oldest competitor in this year's show

Lesley Joseph has admitted that turning 70 was "hard" for her - but appearing on Strictly Come Dancing has made her feel half her age.

She has also cited her mother, who passed away at the age of 103 earlier this year, as a source of inspiration.

The TV actress is the oldest competitor out of the 15 celebrities taking part in the flagship BBC programme this year, but is full of energy and is tiring out her professional dance partner Anton du Beke in training.

She said: "I feel about 35. I don't look 35 - especially with no make-up on. But honestly, I feel 35."

The Birds of a Feather star added: "I'm 70 - OK, if you knew how hard it is to say those words, it's really weird.

"I read an interview with Joanna Lumley recently and she said 'I'm 70, I'm celebrating it!'. I found turning 70 quite hard."

Joseph's feelings over reaching her eighth decade are partly due to so many people in the entertainment industry passing away this year, and that "life suddenly feels very precious".

She said: " I don't feel old, I don't think I look old. But 70 is... I found that hard. But in a way Strictly has stopped me thinking that and I think, 'Yay I'm 70', and I have got more energy than most people in this room put together and that is absolutely true."

The actress - who turns 71 next week - explained how her mother Rebecca, who passed away in May, has inspired her to not let age be a barrier.

She said: "I've had my mother just die at nearly 104, and she was playing tennis at 94. She line-danced at 98 and it was only something that broke that stopped her doing that."

Joseph added that her Birds of a Feather co-star Linda Robson pushed her to appear on Strictly, and that she has surprised herself.

She said: "Linda has always said to me I should do it, that I'd be brilliant. And I'd always say 'Linda, I don't have the energy to do that, it's exhausting'."

"And now I'm wearing Anton out! We get to 5.30 and he says 'can we break now?' and I say 'no, we're going to do it another couple of times'."

As well as working on her Strictly routines for up to six hours a day, next week Joseph will travel abroad to film the "very, very funny Christmas episode" of Birds of a Feather.

She said: "Next week will be completely chaotic because we're filming in Malta. Anton is flying out - you have to do a certain amount of training and we need it for next week's dance."

:: The Strictly Come Dancing results show is on BBC One on Sunday at 7.15pm.

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