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.

This article is from Saga Magazine. For more great reads like this subscribe here


  • Joanna Trollope

    The Grown-Up Test: Joanna Trollope

    To research her novel The Soldier’s Wife, Joanna Trollope braved mud and mayhem with the army. But what’s the nitty-gritty on the life of this now single 68-year-old mother and grandmother, and does she act her age?

    Read on

  • The grown-up test: Caryn Franklin

    The Grown-Up Test: Caryn Franklin

    Proudly grey style commentator Caryn Franklin, 52, is promoting agelessness in fashion as part of her campaign All Walks Beyond The Catwalk. The ex-presenter (with Jeff Banks) of TV's The Clothes Show lives in London with husband Ian and their two girls. But how old is she inside her head?

    Read on


Type your comment here

 characters remaining.

Saga Magazine

£3 for 3 issues

For more fascinating stories and insightful articles, why not try Saga Magazine for just £3 for 3 issues.

Saga Magazine e-newsletter

Sign up to our free newsletter today

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for all the latest recipes, gardening tips, prize draws, interviews and more delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Healthier, wealthier and wise-cracking

Emma Soames reflects on progress, older women and generosity