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Sir John Mills
Sir John Mills

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Our next guest, the veteran actor Sir John Mills was a very good friend of the Queen Mother. They first met in 1940 and 60 years later Sir John was a special guest at her 100th birthday pageant. He delivered a message of gratitude.


DAVID FROST: Yesterday he was one of the thousands of people who went to Westminster Hall to pay his respects to the Queen Mother. Here we are how are you John?

JOHN MILLS: I'm, I'm up.

DAVID FROST: You're up, you're up, this is the worst time of your day and we thank you for getting up

JOHN MILLS: I'm delighted David.

DAVID FROST: Did you go, did you indeed go to the lying in state yesterday?

JOHN MILLS: I did indeed, yes I did.

DAVID FROST: What were your emotions as you were

JOHN MILLS: Well it was strange and because I can't see now and my imagination started to work and the last time I went there it was Lord Mountbatten but it was very, very moving.

DAVID FROST: And when did you first, was it 1940, as long ago as that?

JOHN MILLS: 1940, it was on the set of In Which We Serve at Denham Studios, the picture about Lord Mountbatten's destroyer the Kelly and she came down to the studio with the King and the two young princesses, they were about, I suppose, 11 and 14, something like that, and she was on the set about 10 minutes and the whole crew fell madly in love with her. She had this instantaneous thing about just making people feel at home and relaxed and happy, she was quite unique and she knew a lot about the business she loved the theatre and she'd seen a lot of films. I was very flattered, she'd seen several of mine but she was quite extraordinary play was limping along rather and not doing very good business, if Queen Mum went to a show the play survived, it was quite extraordinary.


JOHN MILLS: Yes, and the word just got round that she'd seen it and many plays were saved.

DAVID FROST: That's a fascinating


DAVID FROST: Fact, footnote to history, that really is. Did you actually perform for her ever live in addition to her seeing your films?

JOHN MILLS: No I, I nearly did, I was talking to Sir Alistair once and we were talking about Noel Coward because she adored Noel and he made her laugh and I said she must miss him very much, he said oh she did because, she does because he entertained her. I said well I'm still doing my one man show would she like me to do half of that. He said oh she'd absolutely love it so about a week later I was invited to Clarence House to lunch, I thought this is it, went to lunch, had a wonderful lunch, only seven of us there and she was in terrific form and I was privileged to sit next to her, the big wine glasses had just come into fashion she said we do this now, swivelled the wine round and after lunch we went into the room and I said

"Ma'am, where's the piano?"

She said "what?"

I said "where's the piano?"

She said "the piano? It's upstairs."

I suddenly realised I wasn't supposed to do anything, I was just invited to lunch, so I told her about it she said "oh, oh what a shame!" she said "but I, I've changed my habits, I have a kip after lunch now", so I never got to entertain her.

DAVID FROST: Her loss, her loss. When was the last time you saw her?

JOHN MILLS: That was about, the lunch was about eight months ago I think.

DAVID FROST: Just eight months ago?

JOHN MILLS: Yes, yes.

DAVID FROST: And because you also presided at the, at the 100th Festival didn't you?

JOHN MILLS: And the 90th yes.

DAVID FROST: And the 90th and what will your next birthday be?

JOHN MILLS: Touch wood it's Feb 22 and I'm 95.

DAVID FROST: 95. We'll just take the news and we'll come back for a round-up.


DAVID FROST: Tony Blair put it very well when he said it's very simple, the country loved her, she loved the country, which ever way round that you'd put those two, what was the, why do we all have this feeling about her?

JOHN MILLS: Because I think that she had this wonderful quality of being a fantastic listener, she was a marvellous listener and you know you felt important, you felt that she really cared what you were talking about, I think that was an enormous asset.

DAVID FROST: Very well put, happy 95th birthday.

JOHN MILLS: Thank you very much David.

DAVID FROST: Thank you all for joining us this morning. We'll be with you in two weeks' time, there's a Marathon next week I think, the London Marathon. Thank you for joining us, thank you John, thank you everyone. Good morning.


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