'Coronation Street' stars Sue Nicholls and Beverley Callard have hit out at the acting industry for being ageist towards women and overly concerned with looks.
The two long-serving soap actresses called for more stage and television roles to be provided for older female performers.
Callard, 53, who plays Rovers Return landlady Liz McDonald, said every new TV drama and the majority of plays were dominated by men.
She told The Stage: “The business is very ageist towards women – much more than it is to men. I think it’s wrong but unfortunately that’s the way it is.
“It’s a shame because we have got some of the best actresses in the world.”
Nicholls, 66, best known as Weatherfield hairdresser Audrey Roberts, said roles for people of all age groups were limited outside soap operas.
She added: “It’s because we are in the ’look-ist’ age and that is why so many people go and have work done. I don’t know how you get over it, really.
“Older people feel they have got to start looking better and I think that is sad, because I don’t think they should.”
Nicholls claimed older actresses were particularly under-represented in theatre outside the West End.
Actors’ union Equity is leading a petition calling for broadcasters to better represent older women, which has so far attracted nearly 9,000 signatures.