Liam Rudden: There’ll always be an Edna

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BARRY Humphries is 79. It’s a fact worth remembering when you see him effortlessly transformed into his greatest creation, Dame Edna Everage.

Yesterday, the world famous Melbourne housewife and gigastar - a few more gigs than a megastar, she tells me - paid the Evening News a visit, as you will have read elsewhere in the paper.

Dame Edna at the EN. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Dame Edna at the EN. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Dame Edna was only here for half an hour or so, but in that time it’s unlikely there was a single person greeted by her who didn’t have to quietly remind themselves that they were actually talking to a man. Granted, a man in a fuchsia wig and outrageous spectacles.

Like all great actors, Barry Humphries becomes his character. He invests her with an amazing degree of warmth, presence and integrity, all of which creates what, in the business, is known as truth.

For 30 minutes I watched a master class in characterisation and improvisation.

Unscripted, ad-libbing and making up tear-inducing quips on the spot, Humphries charmed all he met, even the most hardened of journalists.

Of course, he has 55 years experience of producing off the cuff responses - it’s a skill he has honed to a fine art.

So, if, as he has said, Humphries, intends to ‘retire’ his Dame later this year, that skill will be sorely missed... somehow though, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Edna!