SUSAN Hampshire could easily be described as a national treasure. Quintessentially English, Susan is one of the nation's best loved actresses.

Roles in Monarch of the Glen, The Forsythe Saga and Vanity Fair firmly established Susan in the hearts of the television watching public.

"Television has been very kind to me," she says. "I have been very lucky."

But Susan is also a lover of theatre, and jumped at the chance to star in The Bargain, Ian Curteis' play about a strange but true meeting between newspaper mogul Robert Maxwell and Mother Theresa.

Susan plays Mother Theresa's assistant, and says: "It is a funny play, and very exciting to be involved in a new project from the very beginning."

Although nobody really knows what happened during the 1988 London meeting, rumour has it that Daily Mirror owner Maxwell tried to convince the nun to get involved with a money making scheme run by his newspaper group, and after receiving the funds, made off with the money.

The Bargain has been on the road since March, and visits Windsor on its last stop, near to Susan's home in The Chilterns.

Despite being "into her 60s", Susan loves touring.

"The quality of audiences outside London is superior," she says. "They go to the theatre regularly, and are very intelligent. It is always a joy to perform in a touring production."

Susan starred in her first film when she was just seven years old, opposite Albert Finney in Night Must Fall.

She has also starred opposite Laurence Olivier, Nigel Davenport, Kirk Douglas and Orson Welles. Susan also received an Emmy award for her roles as Sarah Churchill in The First Churchill's and as Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair.

And Susan, who spent her time on tour writing a two part drama series, has not ruled any career move out.

"I would love to do a big BBC drama again, and I would also love to have some nice cameo roles in films," she says.

Susan also does a lot of charity work. She struggled with dyslexia as a youngster, and it still affects her now.

"To be honest, it is still a great inconvenience," she says. "It takes me much longer to read a script. I dread having to read anything. But if you love something, you work through it."

She has written books on the subject - Susan's Story and Every Letter Counts, and supports dyslexia charities.

And for someone who wasn't academic at school, Susan now has five honorary doctorate degrees.

"My father always wanted me to go to university, so he would be very proud of me, " she says.

Living in The Chilterns with husband Sir Eddie Kukulundis, Susan devotes some of her time to The Chilterns Society. "They do a very good job with conservation in the area, and they do their best to keep it as lovely as it is," she says.

"Moving here was the best thing we ever did."

The Bargain is at the Theatre Royal, Windsor from May 14 to 19. Tickets and more information: 01753 853888