I’d ban film and TV sex scenes, says self-confessed ‘prude’ Dame Joanna Lumley

Dame Joanna Lumley in the 1970s
Dame Joanna Lumley in the 1970s, when she says actresses were expected to go topless - PICTORIAL PRESS LTD/ALAMY

Dame Joanna Lumley says sex scenes are “rude and horrible”, and she would cut them out completely from film and television.

Audiences immediately stop seeing a character on screen and instead ogle an actor’s naked form, she said.

Dame Joanna, 77, told Radio Times: “The second you take your clothes off, the audience looks at you, the actor, and your attributes - what your breasts and genitals are like. You’ve immediately lost the character you’ve built.

“There’s a playground element to it - pull your pants down and let’s see what you’ve got. I’d cut them altogether. They slow things down.

“They’re rude and horrible. I don’t watch people on the lavatory!”

Dame Joanna appeared topless in a 1971 film, Games That Lovers Play, and a 1970 comedy, The Breaking of Bumbo, and has previously said that it was expected of all actresses in those days.

“Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Christie - we all had to take our top off. It was part of the titillation of the time,” said the actress, who has described herself as ”quite a prude”.

Sitcom is ‘funny but also profound’

She is now appearing in a Radio 4 sitcom, Conversations from a Long Marriage, with Roger Allam, and described it as one of her favourite jobs.

“I think people like to listen because it sounds like their own lives. It’s funny and light-hearted and also profound,” she said.

“There’s love and loss. Our characters realise they’re getting older - as do a lot of our listeners. I feel young but I know, by years, that I’m getting older.”

Asked about changes she had seen in society since she started out as an actress, Dame Joanna said: “When I came to London in the Swinging Sixties, money was considered very vulgar. You never talked about it!

“If anybody did have money, they’d quietly pay for things. If you didn’t, you’d hold your head high, be entertaining and look good.

“The [current] obsession with money and rich lists - showing how much you’ve spent on things by having Chanel written on your clothes - is alien to me. I still have Sixties dreams in my head.”