Miriam Margolyes: “How I changed my mind on Australia’s ‘bogans'”

The actress chats with New Idea about her exciting new project.
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She has been a staple on our screens for more than 60 years now, and as Miriam Margolyes enters her ninth decade of life, she’s showing no signs of slowing down! 

Watch Below: Miriam Margolyes gets quizzed on Aussie slang

“I value and love life and I want it to go on as long as possible,” Miriam, 81, shares. 

Following on from her award-winning ABC series, Miriam Margolyes Almost Australian, the British acting great, who became an Australian citizen in 2013, returns to our screens with Miriam Margolyes: Australia Unmasked

The new show sees her rediscovering Australia to find out what the ‘Fair Go’ ethos means today. 

Sitting down with New Idea, Miriam shares the on-camera experience that made her appreciate local ‘bogans’, and why she loves calling Australia home.

Miriam MArgolyes
“I value and love life and I want it to go on as long as possible” (Credit: Getty)

For someone in their 80s, your energy seems boundless. What keeps you going?

 I’m looking outwards, not inwards, and that’s the secret. 

 People stimulate me and there’s a constant influx in my life of newness, so I’m not bored. 

 My body is wearing out, there’s no question about that. However, I’ve still got my marbles!

You’ve spoken about your fear of death before, and even made a documentary on the subject. Did that help you make peace with your own mortality? 

It did help calm my terror to some extent. I don’t want to die and I’m not ready to die, but I know that I will. 

I don’t know when or how. But when you see people dealing with death and talking about it, it does help. 

So I’m glad I did that program – it gave me an understanding that I didn’t have before on how to deal with the onset of death.

Miriam Margolyes
Miriam Margolyes (Credit: Getty)

What are you trying to ‘unmask’ with the series? 

I think sometimes Australians don’t investigate their own country and their own attitudes enough. I like to mine into things and that’s what I was trying to do. 

To see, when I ask the question about whether the ‘Fair Go’ ethos still exists, what people say and how they react. It was very interesting. 

You do a bogan ‘burnout’. What was that like?! 

It was fascinating! If someone asked me if I’d like bogans, I’d have said ‘no’. I’d have thought that I couldn’t bear them. But I was wrong. 

In fact, I had the most wonderful day! I had never been to a burnout before – I didn’t know what it was – but it was so fun. 

These people weren’t well-educated, but they were just reacting to life and making the best of it. 

The community was very welcoming and everyone was so kind, so accepting, and so open. 

In saying that, I got the biggest fright of my life when I got in that car. I was terrified! 

Miriam Margolyes
“People do say I’m one of the best character actresses in England, so I’ll settle for that!” (Credit: Getty)

You have homes in both London and the Southern Highlands of NSW with your partner, Heather. How does Australia compare to the UK? 

It’s a much more relaxed place than England. 

It’s less buttoned up and more laid-back – perhaps too laid-back. 

But it’s easy to be in Australia, while it can be tough to be in England.

In the past, you’ve talked about not being as recognised as much as your contemporaries for your work. Do you still feel like you’ve been overlooked by the industry?

It is what it is. I don’t think anybody has had the career that they’d have liked in this industry, except maybe Meryl Streep

I know the good work I did was appreciated. 

People do say I’m one of the best character actresses in England, so I’ll settle for that!

For more, pick up a copy of New Idea. On sale now!

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