Celia Imrie: 'I had to keep upright and breathe in, but I adored this dress'

As told to Leah Harper
Photograph: Fred Duval/FilmMagic

This is the glorious Hervé Léger bandage dress that I wore to the premiere of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It’s elasticated, so it keeps you held in. The scarf is by Issey Miyake – we specifically chose the orange and pink because they are the colours of Rajasthan. I adore colour, and in India you are surrounded by the brightest colours, so the premiere was a marvellous excuse to go mad – I much prefer it to wearing black. I also wore a blue Hervé Léger dress to the New York premiere of the same film, and a bright green one on The Graham Norton Show. You do have to keep upright and breathe in, but they are comfortable.

For the premiere of the first film, I got dressed up for the red carpet and then had to get on the back of a police motorbike to drive across London to the Old Vic theatre, where I put on an overall and slippers for my role in Noises Off. Then I jumped back on the bike and went to the party. Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous – it was a great adventure.

I absolutely loathe shopping. My stylist will usually bring me five outfits. I generally try on, choose and fit the first one. That’s it – bliss!

As Miss Babs on Acorn Antiques, I was often in tweed, regardless of how hot it was, and I remember my wig being bright yellow. I hate having to wear skirts, so that was always a bit of a nightmare, but the clothes had to be of that time and my looks were often based on Noele Gordon from Crossroads. Victoria [Wood] was very precise about what she wanted.

I don’t like taking my clothes off in front of myself, let alone anyone else, so it’s terrible to be remembered for doing that in Calendar Girls. But there weren’t that many parts and, having been cast, I thought: I am going to jolly well get on with it. Of course, we were lucky to be led by Helen Mirren, who had been nude on screen many times before. There was very little fuss – it was the original [real-life] women who were the brave ones, really.

Celia Imrie stars in Better Things on FX and BBC iPlayer