Belfast Telegraph

Celia Imrie says early eating disorder still has impact on her

The actress said that she is ‘still fighting’ after being treated with severe methods in hospital in her teens for anorexia.

Celia Imrie says a previous eating disorder still impacts on her (Ian West/PA)
Celia Imrie says a previous eating disorder still impacts on her (Ian West/PA)

Celia Imrie has said she still has issues with food after suffering with an eating disorder in her teens.

The Calendar Girls and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel star, 66, restricted her food in her youth after being told she was too big to become a dancer, and was admitted to hospital at the age of 14, weighing four stone.

At St Thomas’ Hospital in London, she was treated by psychiatrist William Sargant, who would use electroconvulsive therapy on his patients.

It goes on and on. I mean, I pretend it doesn’t but it sort of does. You just live with it

Imrie told The Mail On Sunday’s You magazine that what Sargant did to her “wouldn’t be allowed now”, and that “it was absolutely vile”.

She added: “I remember him with the face of a devil. There is a part of me that is still inside, fighting.”

Imrie said that, although she did decide to eat normally again in her younger years, she still does not like to eat in front of other people and, when on her own, is strict with herself.

She said: “It goes on and on. I mean, I pretend it doesn’t but it sort of does. You just live with it.

“The sadness to me is if I see a girl in the street and it’s a very particular thinness – I would love to help them in some way.”

Imrie said that she mostly regrets “the worry that it caused my mother”, referring to her own battle.

The screen star – who is releasing her third novel A Nice Cup Of Tea later this month – also told the magazine that she has been offered roles for characters much older than she is.

“At the moment, I seem to be getting scripts through the door for characters who’ve all got Alzheimer’s and are falling to bits,” she said.

“I think one of the scripts was for a 142-year-old woman – I’m thinking, blimey, how old do people think I am? I think I’m still 26.”

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