I explained that I was well able to cook for myself, and I have a lady who comes in and will do things for me. And I said, “I’m all right, don’t even think about me not rejoining you.” Returning was very sentimental for me because everybody loved me.I wouldn’t go hungry, or be lonely.‘But I still had to go back to hospital for therapy three days a week. It was agreed Jean would appear only in episodes three and six. 165 Eaton Place, Sir Hallam and Lady Holland’s Belgravia home, would be explained by the staff as an enforced stay in a sanatorium due to a bout of TB. They said, “Oh you’re much nicer than you normally are!Jean Marsh — best known as Rose Buck, the parlour maid turned housekeeper in Upstairs Downstairs — was giving a talk to a group of fans about her life and acting career when she found herself the centre of some unexpected attention.And when an ambulance arrived, it was a great shock to be told that it was me they had come for.Then the doctor said I hadn’t just had a stroke, as I’d been told, but a little heart attack as well. I told them I’ve always had a heart murmur, a rapid heart beat, but over the years I’d just got on with it.They were worried because I’d lost a stone in weight, but that was because I didn’t like the food.‘All that arguing with them must have worked in my favour, because eventually, after a week, they told me I could go home. People stopped me in the street to ask me if I was still ill, and I’d say, “Oh no, not very.” ‘I wanted to show them that I could do it.We keep being asked if we are having a fight over it, but really the competition is good for us.’ She says she has no intention of retiring so long as her health is stable. We don’t have to because, when we are older, we can play older parts.
It has been speculated that Dame Eileen was unhappy with the way the story — and her character — was developing.And the doctors said I could go back to work too, but do no more than four hours a day. ” ‘Everybody was there, all the cast, all the crew and I knew they were looking at me and thinking, “Oh what a relief!” And when we started filming my episodes, they all forgot about it.‘I just wanted to leave hospital and get back to work.After two weeks, I persuaded them to move me from hospital in Gloucester to one near my London home, the Chelsea and Westminster.‘I know she likes to vary the parts she is playing, and it would have been a big commitment to take on a six-part series. I didn’t try to persuade her to stay, because it was nothing to do with me.I’ve never ever talked to her about anything to do with her career.Friends arrived to see her and said, ‘You know you really are quite ill’, but all Jean wanted was to get home.‘Finally I thought, well maybe something is wrong,’ she says.‘He was 14 years older than me, and I was still growing up, so I changed.Our marriage really only lasted 18 months or so, and we were divorced after five years, so it was a small part of my life.