The Grown-Up Test: Pam Ferris

By Julie Woodgate, Tuesday 20 March 2012

As Sister Evangelina in Call the Midwife and vicious Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, Pam Ferris has charmed us adults – and terrified children. But what has she learnt in her 63 years?
Pam FerrisPam Ferris

If your teenage self could see you now, she’d say…

Smarten up! I was very interested in clothes when young. Now I’m a fan of fleece and corduroy.

What music gets you on the dance floor?

Bangla – it’s really fast.

Do you remember people’s names?

I’m dreadful – can’t do faces either, but I’m good at dogs. I identify people by their dogs.

What’s in your handbag?

I've disciplined myself with a small bag: mobile, pen, keys (I sometimes forget those), glasses, a papier-mâché mush of receipts, Kindle.

iPad or notepad?

My MacBook Pro and Kindle do me fine.

Three things you can’t live without?

Magnifying mirror – I don’t want to be that old lady in the Post Office with a beard – my really good kitchen knife and Radio 4.

Prefer being cared for or caring for others?

I’m a bit of a carer – I’ve looked after my mum and my mother-in-law.

Good in a crisis?

Very. I’m a policeman’s daughter. I take charge.

Fortnum’s or farmers’ market?

Oh, definitely farmers’ market. I’m an enthusiastic volunteer at my local market.

Worst bit of filming Call the Midwife?

The bone-shaker bike, on big deep cobbles in a long nun’s habit and with a loose seat that kept tipping backwards. I had to avoid the ruts, maintain a safe distance from the camera car, try not to kill any extras – and remember my lines.

And the best?

Oh, the newborn babies. The whole set went quiet. The crew whispered as they set up the shots. Beautiful.

Your epitaph?

I don’t want one – because I don’t want a grave. I simply want to fall over in my own garden and become compost.

Verdict: Pam, we first fell for you as the warm, caring Ma Larkin in The Darling Buds of May, in the early Nineties. For that reason we put you at around 47.

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The Grown-Up Test: Pam Ferris

As Sister Evangelina in Call the Midwife and vicious Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, Pam Ferris has charmed us adults – and terrified children. But what has she learnt in her 63 years?