Amanda Barrie was cheered as she entered the Celebrity Big Brother house on Tuesday night.
Few of those fans were born when the actress played an adorably daffy Cleopatra in 1964's Carry On Cleo — her sexpot version of the Egyptian queen reducing a generation of British men to jelly.
And most were too young to remember her long-running role as Alma Sedgewick in Coronation Street when her character married Mike Baldwin and dated his rival, Ken Barlow.
But thanks to her part as a dotty psychic in the TV drama Benidorm and her game-for-anything participation in The Real Marigold Hotel (where she was, in her own words 's***-hot' on a two-wheeled scooter), the 82-year-old star has won over a new generation of devotees with not much more than a bat of those sooty lashes.
Seductive, with no hint of the unhappy upbringing which left her bulimic and suffering a nervous breakdown in her youth, it is perhaps easy to see why she says she was selected as an 'older woman' to teach a teenage Prince Charles all about sex.
For, 20 years ago, she claimed that the actor James Robertson Justice, a friend of Prince Philip, asked her to his house in Scotland to meet the young Charles, then attending Gordonstoun school, and begin a romance with him.
Barrie, who'd met Prince Philip in the Fifties at the Saddle Room, a club run by singer Helene Cordet, said her task would be to 'help in the initiation of the future King'.
Barrie explained further that Robertson Justice, an upper-crust actor who played Sir Lancelot Spratt in Doctor In Love and who died in 1975, said it was the 'ultimate compliment, but don't be offended by it'.
She said: 'He was obviously very embarrassed and went round and round in circles before it came out. Finally, he admitted he was one of eight people who had been selected to help 'launch the royal males into their future life', as he put it.
'Between them, they had to choose anyone they thought would be suitable to teach Prince Charles about sex, and James had decided that I was suitable.
'He actually said: 'We don't really want people who are experienced but on the other hand, well, obviously they have to know the ropes. Frankly, the main thing one needs is a sense of humour and I know you have got that.'
Barrie's pushy mother, Connie, told her that it would have been the chance to be the next Nell Gwyn (notorious mistress of King Charles II).
Barrie said: 'James indicated that if things went well, I would be a kind of fixture — not a girlfriend, but someone in the background. He said: 'They [the royals] can't possibly go off into the world without their own person.' Apparently, it was to be a privilege as no payment was offered.
Of course, the process whereby princes lose their virginity has been a matter of the highest politics for centuries, dating back to when nations depended for their survival on a powerful monarchy, virile kings and a strong and enduring dynastic legacy.
In 1618, for example, Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio suggested that a young king in his charge should masturbate — only to be told sternly by the Vatican that this would be a mortal sin.In the 17th century, Catholic cardinals were called upon to discuss how young princes should prepare for marital sex.
In 1652, the important responsibility of the loss of 14-year-old Louis XIV of France's virginity — or the 'picking of the royal cherry', as it has been described — was performed by the experienced courtesan Baroness de Beauvais, who was nicknamed 'One- Eyed Kate'.
It was considered to be a service to the nation, in view of the supreme importance of a king understanding the basic mechanics of producing royal heirs.
The Baroness was the lady-in-waiting to Louis's mother and was 24 years older than him. She is said to have 'ravished him or at least surprised him' on the way back from the baths.
For such services rendered, she was rewarded with a house and pension.
Three hundred years later, the process of the induction into the secrets of the royal bedchamber seems to have moved on very little for Prince Charles.
Instead of a Versailles mistress, it seems a chorus girl was tapped up for this secret royal duty. And so, according to her version of events, Amanda Barrie was lined up as the 'by Royal Appointment' seductress.
She appeared in Carry On Cabby, but the title role in Carry On Cleo made her a star (by this stage she was suffering from bulimia, which she reasoned was simply a way of coping with stage fright).
Considering all this, her apparent choice to be the woman to take Prince Charles's virginity may seem strange.
In any event, it wasn't to be. Recalling the proposal from Prince Philip's actor chum, she said: 'The one thing that put me off was he suggested I take a pair of khaki shorts to go shooting.
'I also thought that because Charles was so young, it might be a dreadful experience and I might be blamed. I had to say 'no'.''It was those that did it. I couldn't imagine me, in my wig and false eyelashes, dressed in khaki shorts striding across the moors. I had this terrible image of having to face the Queen over breakfast. What would she say? 'So, Amanda, how was it?'
After her refusal, she says Robertson Justice told her: 'If you aren't interested, please don't tell anyone.' So I didn't, not for years.'
This wasn't her only secret. She came out as bisexual in her 2002 autobiography and married her partner Hilary Bonner, a former showbusiness journalist, in 2014, two days before her 79th birthday.
Previously married to actor and director Robin Hunter, Barrie said that she had enjoyed sex with men, but had never felt the same emotional connection that she did with women.
This week, Barrie told viewers of Celebrity Big Brother about her decision to come out.
'It may sound a little too late, but it isn't too late, girls. What I've discovered since coming out is that I don't feel like I'm telling a lie or covering up and that is the most amazing gift.'
Yesterday, Hilary Bonner spoke of Barrie as being 'terribly funny' and why it is so 'meaningful' for her to be part of an all-female Celebrity Big Brother cast to celebrate 100 years of female suffrage.
She said: 'Amanda was born in 1935 and has lived through times when trying to achieve anything independently as a woman was difficult.'
As for Prince Charles, according to his official biographer Jonathan Dimbleby, he was introduced to the ways of love as a student at Cambridge.
We are told he lost his virginity to Lucia Santa Cruz, the beautiful and brainy daughter of the Chilean ambassador, who worked for the master of his Cambridge college, the former Tory politician Lord 'Rab' Butler.
Two other romances quickly followed: with Sibylla Dorman, daughter of the Governor of Malta, and Cindy Buxton, who became a distinguished maker of wildlife documentaries.
At the urging of his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, who saw himself as a father figure to Charles, he didn't hold back when it came to women during his 20s. According to royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith, Mountbatten's advice was: 'Have as many affairs as possible; sow your wild oats, and then find a sweet, charactered girl to put on a pedestal and marry her.'
The rest — marriage to the 'sweet' Diana Spencer, a deeply painful divorce and a second marriage to his long-time mistress — as we all now know, is history.
-The Daily Mail