Written by Hannah Dunleavy


Golden Oldies

October 1 is International Day of Older Persons, highlighting the contribution the over 60s make to society. It’s the perfect excuse for Standard Issue to tip our hats to some cracking people, who are still rocking their careers, years after they could have just sat down with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.

Dame Eileen Atkins

A writer, producer and one third of the acting triumvirate of Smith/Dench/Atkins, Dame Eileen’s 80 and still taking on work.

This, she’s claimed in the past, in her trademark frank and indiscrete manner, isn’t just about the love of the job. (“I don’t have a pension,” she told the Telegraph. “In any case, it doesn’t hurt me to work.”) That said, last year, she turned down the role eventually taken by Joanna Lumley in The Wolf of Wall Street, because she wanted to do a Samuel Beckett play. For free.

Once named the sexiest pensioner on the planet, Atkins famously had to turf a frisky Colin Farrell out of her bed. We’ll let her tell the story…

Martha Reeves

Constantly and unfairly overshadowed by The Supremes, the Vandellas never quite achieved the career heights they deserved.

While 73-year-old Reeves’ inimitable voice may have lost some of its strength, her work ethic hasn’t diminished. Fifty years after the release of Dancing in the Streets she’s embarked on a huge world tour called Calling Out Around the World, which is landing at the O2 arena in December.

If you prefer it all a bit more old school, here she is “performing” (Love is Like a) Heatwave, which I think we can all agree is her best, in 1965. It was a less complicated time, especially, it appears, in the world of choreography.

Peter Vaughan

Now 91, Vaughan’s been acting since he was 16, working with everyone from Joe Orton to Sam Peckinpah. If you haven’t seen his performance as Christopher Ecclestone’s authoritarian and, eventually, dementia-struck dad in peerless British drama Our Friends in the North, you should. And maybe ask yourself what you’ve been doing with your life.

Aged 84, Vaughan told Shropshire Magazine: “As long as you’re fit and healthy to carry on, and the offers come in, you just keep on going.”

Four years later, he took on the role on Maester Aemon Targaryen in Game of Thrones. Here he is teaching Jon Snow that he really does know nothing.

Jessica Walter

A relative spring chicken at 73, Jessica Walter was, for many years, best known as proto-type bunny boiler Evelyn in Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me.

Then she was cast as Arrested Development’s Lucille Bluth and found her niche – booze-soaked, amoral, manipulative matriarchs. (“I’m really very nice, and quite boring,” she once told Entertainment Weekly.)

Walter’s favourite AD line is while Lucille is waiting for a conjugal visit with her husband and tells son Michael: “I’d cry, but I can’t spare the moisture.” It was, perhaps, a clue to how far she’d be prepared to go as the voice of Mallory in the positively filthy Archer. (Sorry, you did what to the Italian Prime Minister?)

Asked recently if she was enjoying her comeback, Walter replied: “I’ve never, ever gone away and I don’t intend to.” This is very good news indeed.

Baroness Trumpington

At 91, the Conservative peer is one of the few people left alive who can honestly say “my father knew Lloyd George.” She also worked as a Land Girl on the former PM’s estate at the start of the Second World War, when he apparently “measured her all over”. (No idea.)

Later in the war she moved into naval intelligence at Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing and his codebreakers were based, and she played an active role in the campaign to have Turing officially pardoned.

Aged 90, she became the oldest ever panelist on Have I Got News for You, as well as appearing in Fabulous Fashionistas, a Channel 4 documentary about older women and fashion.

“There is this idea that women of my age should just fade away,” she recently told the Daily Mail. “And I say ‘bugger that!'”

Here she is giving the two-finger salute to the last person who called her old. For God’s sake, don’t tell her we put her on this list.

Robert Morse

It took a while, to get your head round the closing scene of Season 7 of Mad Men, even if you were aware of Morse’s musical background. (What’s happening here? Is Don having a stroke? Am I having a stroke?)

The wonderful song-and-dance number took five hours to film and, according to the 83-year-old, John Hamm cried a lot of the way through it. (If you want, take a second to picture that. We’ll wait here.)

And while most actors use the “off-season” to have a little holiday, Morse took the opportunity to fit in a bit more stage work. Of course he did. Now, let’s all look at him dancing in his socks again.

Willie Nelson

At 81, Nelson’s one of the US’s most beloved musicians and social campaigners. He co-runs the Farm Aid festival and remains one of his country’s most vocal advocates for the legalisation of marijuana (as well as the greatest counterpoint to the argument that people who smoke a lot of it never get off the sofa.)

Nelson claimed to have retired in 1972, but continues to record music and perform live, presumably because it’s a crapload of fun. His memoirs Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I’m Gone certainly made it sound that way.

Here he is talking about being Willie Nelson and being funny. Knock yourselves out.

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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.