Feb 6 2013 By Michael Russell
Stage and screen star Sylvia Syms
She has starred in many hit films and plays and acted alongside greats such as Noel Coward, Omar Sharif and Julie Andrews, yet Sylvia Syms does not consider herself a celebrity.
Ms Syms, who is 79 years old, says that the stars of the entertainments industry all knew each other in what was a much smaller world decades ago.
“Entertainment was different,” she said “I can remember when Roger Moore came to dinner and brought his friend Clive Dunn with him.
“But we weren’t big stars, we were just good at our jobs.”
After RADA training, her big break came with a part in the Apple Cart with Noel Coward at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, to celebrate the Queen’s coronation in 1953. She won a part in her first film, It Happens Every Thursday, in the same year.
She has worked for the big studios, including Elstree, Shepperton and MGM, and many theatres in London and across the country.
Years of working in a man’s world has honed her skills and sharpened her wit.
Ms Syms said: “You can’t survive as a woman in an overcrowded industry, overcrowded by many mediocre men in particular, unless you’re very versatile and very talented.”
Her talent is just as much in demand now as it was 60 years ago.
She played the Queen Mother in the 2006 film The Queen with Helen Mirren in the title role.
She is currently recording a voice-over for a BBC documentary about iconic interviews with famous faces and will soon start filming for a film called Angel. She said: “I can't say much about it, but it’s a terrifying thriller. I think it’s really quite brilliant.”
She added: “As an artist you don’t retire. You carry on until you drop down dead.”
Although she does not consider herself a celebrity, she enjoys the fact her glamorous career allows her to help others, such as visiting elderly people or teaching her youth theatre group, called Intermission.
She said: “Because of my success I’ve had a privileged life. And it has meant I can give back, which is wonderful.”
Filmmaker Tony Palmer will be interviewing Sylvia Syms about her life at 3pm on Saturday, February 16. It will be followed by a screening of the 1958 film, Ice Cold In Alex, in which she had a starring role
Visit www.ealingmusicand filmfestival.org to find out more.