Having just lost three games of backgammon to Omar Sharif I thought things couldn’t get any worse… Then my agent rang to say I’d got a part in yet another version of A Christmas Carol.

Obviously I hadn’t read the script, so I imagined it would just be me sat in a leather bound armchair looking twinkly, open the book, read the first line and dissolve to a snowy olde London towne. The plan was I’d then head to the bar for a large brandy and some cheesey nibbles until they were ready to do another shot of me closing the book, smiling benevolently and saying Merry Christmas. 

The only trouble was bloody Dirk Bogarde had already nabbed that part so I had to pick from what was left. For a while it looked like I’d have to drag up and play Mrs Fezziwig, but luckily Jack Lemmon was quite badly hurt when I accidentally pushed him down the stairs, so I got to do Jacob Marley instead. It’s the best part in the whole thing really: because you’re a ghost you can just roll your eyes a lot, wiggle your fingers and start wailing if you forget your lines and that buys you enough time to work out what to say next. 
I don’t think Sophia Loren was anyone’s first choice to play Scrooge, but she was box office gold in those days and as soon as the producers saw her, the dollar signs popped in to their eyes. Sadly, it wasn’t a big hit, but releasing it right in the middle of the hottest summer on record didn’t help much.  I was just glad they didn’t use the take where I gave Mrs Cratchit the goose and she kneed me in the cranberries. God bless us every one, as dear old Tiny Tim would say! But that’s another story…