Joanna Lumley believes people have needlessly become scared of death and it should instead be welcomed as a "friend".
The Absolutely Fabulous star voiced her concern about the vilification of death, which she argues has been exacerbated recently.
During an interview with My Weekly magazine, she said: "In the old days it [death] was so familiar to us because people loved in houses where, horrifyingly, children died, grannies died, people died. Death was ever present. All around. And now it's something that only happens behind closed doors or in the distant rooms and is always considered a great failure.
"I think we have become unrealistic about it and so we dress it up. There's nothing odd about dying.
"Everyone alive will die. That's one surety about life. We should make it our friend. We just don’t want it to become a friend too soon, or for it to come with pair or for the wrong reasons."
The 77-year-old actress pointed to the theme of death in her new short film, 'My Week With Maisy', which is presented through the eyes of Mrs Foster, a cynical woman about to start chemotherapy for cancer, and the titular character, Maisy Jones, a seriously ill yet optimistic child. Through an unlikely friendship, Maisy teaches Mrs Foster to be grateful and hopeful, but to also respect the inevitability of death.
Speaking on the matter, she said: "We all own death. It doesn’t discriminate. Good or bad, it will come to all of us. Just as we all are born. So, there is something within 'My Week With Maisy' that makes us jump, that makes us sit up and take notice. Maisy seems to be much more accepting of what is happening to her than Mrs Foster."
The movie will be shown at film festivals, but Joanna hopes it will receive a wider release, so that its message can reach those undergoing chemotherapy.
She said: "I have obviously met people who have been through it – we all have.
"Very, very fortunately I haven't experienced it myself but we are all surrounded by cancer – it's everywhere. And the more we learn about it, the more it's talked about, the more we understand it."