Comedian, actor and TV presenter Caroline Quentin stepped into the primetime TV spotlight at the end of 2020, and gave us something to smile about.
Unleashing her dance skills on Strictly Come Dancing, she kept us all hugely entertained with her dance partner, Johannes Radebe. Now, she's spoken exclusively to Good Housekeeping about what's next – and why she's finally becoming the woman she's always wanted to be.
In the February issue of Good Housekeeping, out now, Caroline describes her Strictly experience as "the greatest learning curve".
"It’s grindingly difficult and terrifying," she says. "It’s like having an opening night every Saturday night, but I learned that I can forget myself long enough to just be there to entertain people. I was there to bring two minutes of joy into people’s lives.”
In the year she turned 60, she had something of a ‘Quennaissance’, if you will. "In the most unexpected moment in our history, I suddenly had some really interesting work to do," she reveals. Pre-Strictly, Caroline managed to make two feature films back-to-back when lockdown restrictions eased: Father Christmas Is Back with John Cleese, Elizabeth Hurley and Frasier’s Kelsey Grammer, and Miss Willoughby And The Haunted Bookshop, also with Kelsey Grammer.
Off-screen, Caroline has enjoyed long-term happiness with her husband, Sam Farmer, 49. They have an idyllic-sounding life in Devon and are proud parents to William, 17, and Rose, 21, who has followed her mother into an acting career.
"I suddenly thought: ‘I have less time ahead of me than I have behind me – what am I going to do? What do I want to do?’" she says of turning 60. "My children are well and they’re growing up, so I decided to start doing things that I fancy doing; things that I haven’t done before and will be a bit of a challenge. It’s almost a mindset, I think. I’m not really frightened of much any more. I care much less about what people think about me (except my family, obviously). As an actor, you tend to have to be a bit of a people-pleaser, and I think that I just don’t really care about that so much any more.”
Caroline also revealed what advice she'd give to her younger self.
“I know exactly what I’d say: ‘Stop apologising for who you are and start being who you are.’ If I had my time again, I’d stop worrying about the perception of oneself: what you look like, how you sound, what you say and what you wear. I’d get on with being me and actually knowing that I’m good enough. We women are so tough on ourselves. We screw up, make mistakes, put on weight, have terrible haircuts, buy horrible jumpers – but so what? I’m still doing that! I’m out and proud with my terrible haircuts and jumpers. I think my younger self would be amazed at the way my life has turned out, actually.”
Read the full interview with Caroline Quentin in the February issue of Good Housekeeping, on sale from 30 December. It is available in all supermarkets and online at MagsDirect
Caroline stars in Dickensian on BBC iPlayer and Bridgerton on Netflix
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