She rose to fame as Cindy Beale in EastEnders in 1988 and later had a stint on Coronation Street, playing landlady Stella Price from 2011.
But Michelle Collins has now admitted she could return to either one.
‘I’d never say never about going into a soap. I’m a jobbing actor and I want to be versatile and to be challenged,’ she says. ‘I know that sounds crazy at 59, but I still want to play so many different roles in the theatre and on the TV.’
Sadly for Michelle, this year’s Covid-19 crisis has seen the end of two projects she had lined up.
She says, ‘I only did just over a week of rehearsals for The Birthday Party, which was due to tour the UK, before that was cancelled, and I was going to take a one-woman show, Motorhome Marilyn, to the Edinburgh Fringe.’
So, with all her work on hold, Michelle turned to Instagram to keep herself busy, dressing up to cook a few times a week.
‘Any excuse to get dressed up and put some lippy on and do my hair,’ she laughs. ‘Let’s face it, there is nowhere else to go at the moment!’
Michelle’s partner of seven years, Mike Davison, has been her cameraman throughout lockdown, and she confesses that’s where he prefers to be, leaving her in the limelight.
‘He’s quite a private person,’ she says. ‘I respect him for that. I think the most important thing in a partner is them being supportive and that they are there for you when times are good and when times are bad. That’s what we all want. I’m very lucky to have somebody to spend lockdown with.’
Despite a halt in work, Michelle will be starring in new TV drama Queens of Mystery, in which she plays Electra Bliss, who she describes as ‘a sort of narcissistic, slightly deluded pop star that probably should have given up years ago but hasn’t.’
For the part, Michelle had to sing, which she says was ‘fun’ – and being in a band is something the versatile actress knows all about, having been a backing singer for 1980s band Mari Wilson & the Wilsations – and she’s barely aged since!
Michelle admits she puts in a lot of effort to keep herself in shape, revealing she was going to the gym ‘four or five times a week for 40 minutes’ before lockdown, and has now been going for runs as well as walking her dog, Humphrey.
‘I do have a thing about my arms,’ she confesses. ‘I said I would never get bingo wings, so I use hand weights for my arms and I do my sit-ups and I stretch a lot. I’m not addicted to exercise like I used to be when I was very young, though.’
As well as her strict exercise routine, Michelle says
she ‘hardly eats meat any more,’ adding, ‘I am one
of these people that likes to eat little and often.’
For that reason, Michelle says she found doing a series of ITV’s Bear Grylls: Mission
Survive in 2016 very hard, as she couldn’t eat when she wanted, as well as the fact she was struggling with the menopause.
‘I felt my symptoms were quite bad when I did that show,’ explains Michelle, ‘If you’re suffering, then you need to do something about it. You shouldn’t suffer in silence. You really need to talk to people and go to your doctor. HRT was the best thing for me.’
So what lies ahead? ‘I’m producing and I’m working with Charlie Hanson, who does all the Ricky Gervais shows,’ she says.
She finishes, ‘I’m trying to be proactive, and I think a lot of actors are doing that when they reach a certain age. I think it’s just taking control of your career, isn’t it?’
Queens of Mystery is available to stream now on Acorn.TV