As Dame Helen Mirren turns 70, we list 14 fun facts about the veteran actress and all-round national treasure - including her love of a good cuppa and trashy daytime telly...


Pop open the champers, because this Sunday (26th July) is the national treasure that is Dame Helen Mirren’s 70th birthday!

And the veteran actress, L’Oreal model and all-round mega woman has plenty to celebrate, including a successful marriage, a cabinet full of awards, and a career that shows no signs of slowing down.

But did you know that she’s also partial to a cup of PG Tips and an episode of Nothing To Declare? No??

Well, in celebration of her big day, allow us to enlighten you with 14 fun facts about Dame Helen that you probably didn’t know…

1. Her surname is actually Mironoff, not Mirren

Dame Helen was born to an English mother, Kathleen Rogers, and a Russian father, Vasily Mironoff – her dad changed the family name to the more anglicised Mirren in the 1950s.

2. She believes in fairies, not God

Speaking to Esquire magazine in 2011, Dame Helen said: “I am quite spiritual. I believed in fairies when I was a child. I still do sort of believe in the fairies. And the leprechauns. But I don’t believe in God.”

3. She speaks fluent French

Oh la la!

4. She has played a queen a total of six times…

… in The Queen (2006), Elizabeth I (2005), The Prince of Egypt (1998), The Snow Queen (1995), The Madness of King George (1994) and Caligola (1979).

5. She got a tattoo when she was really drunk

And now she regrets it. Speaking on Good Morning America in 2010, she said: “I was very, very drunk. It was a very, very long time ago, when only sailors and Hell’s Angels were tattooed, honestly, and prisoners.And I decided to get a tattoo because it was the most shocking thing I could think of doing. And now I’m utterly disgusted and shocked because it’s become completely mainstream, which is unacceptable to me.”

Moral of the story? Don’t drink and ink, you guys…

6. in 1997, she publicly stated that she would never marry…

…only to wed fellow actor Taylor Hackford two months later. But it wasn’t a totally romantic affair. Speaking in 2007, she said: “It was never my intention to marry anybody. Economics are basically the only reason to get married, but I’m very glad I did it.”

7. She once said “motherhood holds no interest for me”

Speaking to Vogue some years later, she added: “It was not my destiny. I kept thinking it would be, waiting for it to happen, but it never did, and I didn’t care what people thought.”

8. She refused a CBE in 1996

But accepted a Damehood in 2003.

9. She doesn’t shy away from controversy

On accepting an award at The Hollywood Reporter Power 100 Women in Entertainment breakfast in 2010, she criticised the movie industry for “worshipping at the altar of the 18-to-25-year-old male penis.” Oo-er!  She’s also confessed to trying cocaine, LSD and marijuana in her younger days.

10. Despite a career spanning nearly 50 years, she still gets stage fright

Speaking in 2013, she confessed: “I get sick with fear. Not every night, but at the beginning and on occasion.”

11. She’s partial to a spot of daytime telly

In an interview with Woman & Home, Dame Helen revealed: “I believe in meditation – it’s a good tool to centre yourself, but unfortunately, I’m too lazy to do it. It’s very hard work and I prefer to watch Nothing To Declare on TV!”

12. She took on the fashion industry – and won

Dismayed at the number of strappy dresses to be found on the highstreet, Dame Helen declared: “There are no dresses with sleeves, and we need to bring back the sleeve: fine, see-through ones, long or short.” By no coincidence, the following season saw Marks & Spencer announce that 90% of their dresses would have sleeves. Cue older women everywhere praising Queen Mirren.

13. She loves a good cuppa

“I drink just as much tea when I’m in Los Angeles as I do when I’m in London,” she once revealed. “I take my tea bags with me wherever I go. PG Tips.”

14. She’s a feminist – and says you are too

Says Dame Helen: “I think every woman in our culture is a feminist. They may refuse to articulate it, but if you were to take any woman back 40 years and say, ‘Is this a world you want to live in?’ They would say, ‘No.’”