The role of Felicity in Noel Coward's Relative Values isn't new to Susan Hampshire.

"I played it a long time ago ... a long, long time ago!" she remembers wonderingly. "They thought I was too young for it then. Well, I can't be too young now!"

Felicity, Countess of Marshwood, is a mother whose son is threatening to make one of the worst social faux pas possible in the 50s he wants to marry a lowly, working-class Hollywood starlet.

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Susan's enjoying being a horrified aristocrat determined to scupper her son's plans even more the second time around.

"It's very exciting doing it again," she says, "because you discover things you didn't notice the first time.

"It's wonderful entertainment, and still very relevant today because there are societies and families all over the place where this dilemma is still an issue.

"People are always worrying about people being 'unsuitable' for their children, or whether someone loves their child enough, or else children are with someone they're afraid their parents won't like."

The play is full of Coward's trademark wit, but that's not all there is to enjoy. "He often concentrated simply on the comedy in his plays, but in this one the characters have other dimensions," Susan says. "And it's lots of fun it's not very PC! It's all about a kind of world that not many of us inhabit the aristocracy and it has a wonderful feelgood factor."

Susan last appeared at Richmond Theatre just a year ago when she was another mother, this time in Alan Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking, but she's uppermost in the mind of the public at the moment thanks to her long-running Sunday evening Highland drama with Richard Briers, Monarch of the Glen.

And there's good news for fans in the middle of this tour she'll be taking a break to film a fourth series, although it means that Relative Values won't be going to the West End. "It's a wonderful thing to be able to work with writers of really good, light comedy," Susan says of Monarch of the Glen. "I love doing it and the scenery is wonderful but it's so far from home!"

But she's not complaining. "I feel very lucky to always be able to get work in this difficult profession," she says. "Very blessed, in fact."

After this tour and the return to Monarch, Susan will be well overdue a holiday. "I've been working solidly for two years!" she reveals. "It's just the way it's worked out the theatre work has fed the TV work, and vice versa.

"I'm really looking forward to having a break and sorting things out we've been meaning to move house for ages! And my husband and I are very keen bridge players so I'd like to do more of that.

"One thing I won't be doing is going on holiday I travel so much with work that I'm longing forward to just sitting at home for a while!"

Relative Values is at Richmond Theatre, The Green from Monday (February 11) until February 16.

Call 8940 0088 for tickets, which are £7-£18.