Dame Sheila Hancock has said she has worked on projects that were “awful rubbish” to “earn a living”.
The 90-year-old actress has previously called boarding school comedy The Wildcats Of St Trinian’s, in which she starred as headmistress Olga Vandemeer, the “worst film ever made”.
On BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live, Dame Sheila was asked if she strove for a variety in her work, and said: “No, no, I sought to earn a living. I’m a working actress. I’ve done some awful rubbish.”
Also known for her roles on the stage, she has taken home an Olivier for Cabaret, received Bafta nods for thriller The Russian Bride and sitcom Bedtime and been nominated for a Tony Award for the play Entertaining Mr Sloane.
Dame Sheila added: “There’s a lot I disown… the first shows (I did) were Reefer Girl, Pick-up Girl and Ma’s Bit O’Brass.”
She also said that her and playwright Harold Pinter, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, acted in the “most dreadful plays” during her early career.
Dame Sheila said: “How Harold became a great writer, I’ll never know… I do think it’s important that you have to do bad things in life.”
She also starred in the likes of EastEnders and sitcoms including The Rag Trade, Mr Digby Darling and Now, Take My Wife.
In 1972 she landed her own series, But Seriously, It’s Sheila Hancock.
She has found new fans following appearances on Celebrity Gogglebox with Gyles Brandreth and with the former MP turned broadcaster on Channel 4’s Great Canal Journeys.
Speaking about her career now, Dame Sheila said: “The thing that happens when you get old is that time is limited.
“You’re conscious of the fact that you only a few years left and if you’re like me, (someone) who’s greedy to acquire knowledge and… you panic, you panic and therefore, eight shows a week worrying about my voice, because I did a lot of musicals, I can’t waste time on that anymore.
“Although it seemed very, very important to me when I was doing it. That’s the awful thing also about growing old you look back at the things that seemed important to you (but they are) rubbish, (they) mean nothing.”
Most recently, she has appeared in detective drama Unforgotten, fantasy show A Discovery Of Witches and drama series Delicious.
Dame Sheila also said that she is “not nervous” about being cancelled by social media for saying something controversial.
She added: “I’m going to be cancelled by life shortly so it will be a waste of a cancel to cancel me because I’ll be off – but I think it does make you… hesitate before you express opinions that might hurt.
“I try also not to be silenced by it, because it’s just a small group of people sometimes who don’t agree with what you’re thinking and they want to stop you saying it and I don’t agree with a hell of a lot anybody says.”