The name Stephanie Beacham immediately calls to mind images of glamour, beauty and sophistication. So we’re thrilled to report that in real life, the 75-year-old icon, best known for playing Sable Colby in Dynasty in the 1980s, is just as fabulous as we’d hoped – if not more.
The actress is set to return to our screens this week as she reprises her role as Martha Fraser in Coronation Street. It has been 13 years since she originally appeared in the ITV1 soap as the woman who stole Ken Barlow’s heart.
And off screen, Stephanie’s love life is also flourishing.
She smiles as she opens up about finding The One at 60, when she admits she had pretty much given up on love.
Stephanie fell for doctor and saxophonist Bernie Greenwood, who was then 68, after they were introduced by a mutual friend.
“I’ve met many women in their forties who are successful but alone,” she says. “I didn’t meet Bernie until I was 60. Let that be an inspiration! Let’s be honest, that’s post-menopause, post-children. That’s post a lot of things – but not all things! We fell in love, no compromise. We were given, through rose coloured spectacles, the vision of each other as if we were 35. God allowed us magic!
“Before we met, we’d been emailing. By the time we’d written enough emails, I knew I loved this man. But I didn’t know I fancied him.”
Stephanie married English writer and actor John McEnery in 1979, divorcing six years later. She had thought she was “finished with the whole romance thing” but decided life was too short to be alone. And that’s when a friend suggested she meet Bernie.
She was living in Malibu, while he was in Spain, and they exchanged emails for months before finally meeting when he flew over.
“I had said to a girlfriend who’s married to a music producer, ‘Has your husband got any musicians that are worth going out with on a Saturday evening?’ I just wanted to go and hear some music with some new company. She said, ‘You’ve got to meet Bernie!’ Bernie had recently finished a 39-year relationship and she knew what a wonderful person he was. My friend had asked me to email him and I said, ‘Certainly not! But if you want to get him to email me, that’ll be fine.’
“We both admitted afterwards we’d spent our days looking forward to the next email. I’d never touched my computer [before], it was just a white lump on my table! He couldn’t believe how slow my typing was.”
After seven years together, Bernie popped the question in 2014 and Stephanie describes the romantic proposal as “old-fashioned and heavenly”.
But the couple have no immediate plans to walk down the aisle – especially since they already feel like a married couple.
“Oh, don’t even begin!” she laughs as we broach the subject of weddings. “Bernie says, ‘Why did you say yes then?’ to the proposal. And I say, ‘Because it was one of the most romantic things that’s ever happened to me. I could never have said no.’
“But we’ve never been able to agree or decide what sort of [wedding we want] because we’re married, for heaven’s sake, we’re just not [actually] married. It’s just that it would make no difference. And the idea of a fussed-up wedding is just not what I could be bothered with.”
She pauses, then adds, “But we may just do it. We may suddenly say, ‘Oh, for heaven’s sake, shall we have a party this afternoon and just get married?’ We just haven’t and it’s for no other reason than we can’t quite come to understand what sort of a wedding we would have.”
Married or not, it’s clear Stephanie is happier than ever. And while she is busier than ever, she tries to be careful to not take on projects that mean she will be away from home. “I’m absolutely smitten,” she says. “I do think a little bit of separation does everybody a lot of good. Missing someone makes the heart beat faster. But of course, nowadays with Skype and everything, you can always talk every day. But no, it’s not a good idea to be away from him for too long.
“I’ve finished filming now but it was six weeks. I suppose what you’re probably hearing from me is respect for Bernie. And that is what he has for me. You only stay in love if you have respect and are willing to be supportive.”
Another man Stephanie has a “huge amount of respect” for is actor Bill Roache, 90, who plays Coronation Street legend Ken Barlow. And she’s delighted to be working with him once more.
“I wanted to work with Bill again,” she says. “His modesty and work ethic is something that I feel so calm next to. And he was dear enough to say that he felt great trust with me. There’s no stress, it’s absolutely easy, good communication. All my scenes last time were just on the barge as Ken was having an affair with my character. But this time I filmed in all the iconic places. I had my photo taken outside the Rovers Return!”
One other show that Stephanie is a huge fan of is Strictly Come Dancing – which she appeared on in 2007.
“I’m a fan of Strictly and I think [Anton Du Beke] is doing a terribly good job. But doing it was absolutely hateful.
“Someone asked me the other night if I’d do Dancing On Ice and, well, I didn’t spit out my food but I choked with the laughter of it. Because… no! Thank you so much but I would not like to do that! I don’t ride any more, I don’t ski any more. I don’t want to fall over any more. I could probably fall over very easily by myself without ice or horses.”
Talk then turns to Stephanie’s friendship with her former Dynasty co-star Dame Joan Collins, who played Sable’s cousin Alexis Colby.
“I was at her 89th birthday party at Claridge’s six or so months ago. It was fabulous,” she says.
“Liz Hurley was at the same table. I was sitting next to her gorgeous son Damian. And I had a big natter with her.
“And the next day the director Philippe Martínez called and asked me to play her mum in a movie called Christmas In The Caribbean! Liz is divine! She’s far too pretty, she’s far too beautiful and a really nice woman!”
“She’s so happy. She too has found her correct partner. Percy [Gibson] and Joan are a power couple. They want the same things, it’s so lovely. There’s another woman who’s found it later in her life.
“There really is hope for all these people that have not found their partner. It can happen later and it’s just as real and more perfect!”
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