Eileen Atkins: ‘There are plenty of parts if you’re willing to make yourself look lousy’

From council estate in Tottenham to West End stage, the veteran actor and screenwriter tells her life story in a funny and honest new memoir.

She was, she says, always determined to shine…Think back, just for a moment, to the first series of The Crown.

It is 1952.

The king, George VI, is dead and the new queen, Elizabeth, has flown home to Britain from Africa.

At Sandringham, where her father’s body rests, everything is the same and yet irredeemably changed: a paradoxical state signified most powerfully by the arrival of the king’s mother, Queen Mary.

In a corridor lined with servants, the old queen, in black crepe and a mourning veil, advances slowly towards the new queen.

Will these grieving women embrace? No.

As Queen Mary has already informed her granddaughter by letter, if the crown is to survive, duty must come before personal indulgence, a credo

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