Amanda Barrie at 82 is one of the oldest Celebrity Big Brother housemates in the show’s existence but she also might be the most exciting, with a glittering showbiz career.
Best known for her role as Alma Sedgewick in Coronation Street, a hugely popular character that she played over 20 years, once revealed that she felt unable to come out as gay because she feared that she would lose her job on the soap.
Amanda was put in the awkward position when she discovered that paparazzi had been given a tip about her sexuality and she felt ‘absolutely terrified’ about what the discovery would mean for her career.
Speaking about the misery that she suffered on Loose Women in December 2016, she said: ‘I remember just being absolutely terrified because I knew at that time, I think I’m right to say, I would have lost my job.
‘Not now but I honestly believed it that. I also felt really guilty myself because they made me feel guilty. I was playing Alma and then I had this whole other life and I felt like I couldn’t look anybody in the eye.’
Since 2014, Amanda has been married to crime novelist Hilary Bonner, but only felt able to speak out about her sexuality at the age of 67.
She’d previously said that she had lived in fear because it was thought that certain people wouldn’t work with her if they knew the truth because ‘it was taboo’.
‘Nobody at Coronation Street knew but my very close friends Helen [Worth], Sue Nicholls and Barbara Knox,’ she explained.
The Corrie legend, who also has starred in the comedy sitcom Benidorm as well as Carry On films, is now in the CBB house along with the likes of Ann Widdecombe and Hoxton Radio DJ Ashley James, admitted that she snapped up the opportunity to go on the show.
‘I vary between thinking, “Have I gone entirely mad at my age?” to, “Is this going to be fun?”. The thing is, when you get to 82 and someone asks you to do something, it would be foolish to say no.
‘It’s a new adventure for me. I mean, what else am I going to do? I’ll just be sitting at home, so I thought I might as well have a go.’
She also joked that she had to keep going, otherwise it would be the beginning of the end, as she said: ‘What keeps me working? I think it’s occupational therapy to stop me thinking about death, really.’
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But Amanda also revealed that the money she’ll earn from CBB will give her family a well-deserved break to look forward to as they have suffered from tragic events and heartbreak in recent times.
‘I’ve had a lot of tragedies in my family recently, young ones and old ones,’ she said.
‘I think they all need a bit of a holiday together, so that’s what I will spend some of the money on. My family have all been incredible. They actually did say to me after all the tragedies we’ve had, “For God’s sake go in because you’ll make such a fool of yourself, it’ll take our mind off everything”.’