The Inventory: Patricia Hodge

‘I keep fit by being active. Having children at the age I did has a lot to do with it,’ says the actor

Patricia Hodge, 67, is a stage, film and television actor known for her roles in shows such as Rumpole of the Bailey, Jemima Shore Investigates and, most recently, Miranda.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?

I don’t think it’s ever been anything other than wanting to be on the stage in some form or another.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Both. Wintringham Grammar, Grimsby, then St Helen’s School, Northwood, a boarding school. I wanted to be an actress but it was so alien to everybody’s thinking, both in my home town and at school, that I trained as a teacher at Maria Grey College, now part of Brunel University. I taught for a year before I went to Lamda.

Who was or still is your mentor?

Teachers played a big part. At the grammar school, the head of the English department, Pat Ranson, and Clare Austin-Smith. At St Helen’s, June Leader, head of English, and Christine Ross, head of music, who taught me the piano.

How physically fit are you?

I keep fit by being very active and being aware of what I eat. Having children at the age I did has a lot to do with it – young people keep you fit.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Success in our industry depends on two things: talent and the ability to harness that talent.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

No. I’d be too frightened.

How politically committed are you?

I don’t feel committed to any one party.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

Yes. I’m trying to re-educate myself.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

I adored my bike when I was a child and still find myself wistfully looking in bike shops. My husband would never let me buy one because it’s too dangerous in London.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Skiing. I get something from being in the mountains that I can’t get anywhere else. It does something to my soul that I can’t explain.

In what place are you happiest?

Probably in that mountain environment. My sister lives in Devon – that environment also rejuvenates me, perhaps because I was brought up by the sea.

What ambitions do you still have?

Professionally, I’ve always felt that you’re at the behest of what people will ask you to do. To go on working is the privilege. That’s the best that you can hope for. Personally, I would like to see a bit more of the world. I do like to travel.

What drives you on?

A love of life. I am an innately happy person. And I’ve always got far more things to do than I can possibly accomplish.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

No question: my two children.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?

She would be bemused by the breadth of my career and pretty amazed at where it’s taken me.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I’d never not be occupied. There are a lot of things I love doing – anything to do with my hands, I’ve always made things. And I’ve always wanted to do a painting course in Italy.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?


Do you believe in an afterlife?

I would like to. I muse on it. I create one in my head for those I’ve lost.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

I hate things out of 10, I really do! You’d have to say 10 because you have no right not to be satisfied with your life.

Patricia Hodge appears in ‘Relative Values’ at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London, until June 21 (0844 871 7622,

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