AT 61 years of age, actress, mother, and grandmother Beatrice Kelley has no intention of slowing down.

The former teacher who lives in Pool in Wharfedale gives off an energy and enthusiasm that belies her age. Appearances on Emmerdale, Heartbeat, A Touch of Frost (to name only a few) have kept Beatrice busy since she became a professional actress 15 years ago.

Born in Farnley Hall in 1941, Beatrice was the youngest of the four children of Harold and Marjorie Smith.

Harold had the dairy on Westgate and Beatrice spent many hours in Beech Hill cinema when films were shown continuously. A love of acting, and of fifties rebel James Dean began here.

She joined Otley Junior Players and her first starring role was as a clockwork doll at the age of five. It was also at this time Beatrice met her future husband, Peter Kelley who was the grand old age of ten.

From here Beatrice progressed to the Sylvia Green drama school in Menston and one day Sylvia came to visit Harold and Marjorie.

"Mr Smith," she said: "Beatrice is very talented. I think she should go to a residential drama school."

To which Harold replied: "There's the door, now use it."

Beatrice holds no bitterness for her father's abrupt treatment of her teacher. "He did me a big favour," she said. "I am grateful to him now."

So Beatrice continued her education as her parents wished and became a teacher in spite of having been told at Prince Henry's Grammar School that she was 'not academic enough to teach'.

She married childhood sweetheart Peter and the couple went on to have three children. When pregnant with first child Joseph, Beatrice lived in Menston and worked in Bradford.

"At six months pregnant I used to run down the hill for the bus and the bus driver used to say, 'don't go having that baby on my bus'," Beatrice laughed

This is typical of her energy and drive. She and her husband spent five years building their own house on Old Pool Bank. "I was tamping concrete at six months pregnant with the next child."

It was when Beatrice founded and ran a kindergarten in Burley in Wharfedale that she realised the importance of drama, to herself and to the children she cared for.

Beatrice said: "I realised if you get children from a young enough age, they play all the time anyway. I loved it.

"I remember one mother coming up to me after a production that the children had been in and saying, 'what have you done to my son?' I said,' oh I'm sorry what is it? And the mother replied, 'he used to be so timid and shy - now look at him!'

"This was the beginning for me of feeling a need to teach drama. I believe it's the most important subject on the curriculum. We should nurture the creative talents of young people - not breed a generation of robots." In 1981 Beatrice took up a teaching post at Prince Henry's Grammar School, Otley. "I didn't go initially to teach drama. I became head of drama by default," Beatrice said.

In her seven years there Beatrice did eight productions and with her usual grit and determination transformed an empty classroom into a drama studio.

Beatrice said: "I said to the head, I need a studio, you don't need another science lab, which is what he had planned for it. He said to me, if you want it you can do it."

Beatrice spent that Easter sanding and decorating the room. With the help of adviser David Martin the room became a working studio for the pupils.

"I was in my element when I was teaching," Beatrice said, "Encouraging pupils to take that leap of faith."

When the school would not put A level drama on the curriculum, Beatrice resigned.

She already had a degree and a diploma in drama, and at the age of 47, she got her Equity card.

Now Beatrice shrugs off the years of work that have got her where she is today. "I think to myself - aren't I lucky?" she said. "I've stood next to Peter Sallis from Last of the Summer Wine, and David Jason - I have worked with Thora Hird. I've worked with great people. But I've got where I am by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Beatrice has no regrets at joining the profession at a later age.

She said. "My dad did me a big favour making me get an education first. When I got into acting there was a dearth of middle aged women. At 47 I was just at my peak."

Beatrice is currently working on a series called Eyes Down with Paul O'Grady aka Lily Savage.

Beatrice said: "The future....I don't know. How long is a piece of string?

"If you want something badly enough you'll get it. If you're not born a Redgrave or a Mcgann, then you just have to work a bit harder for it."

Beatrice stresses the importance of being yourself. "Normal life keeps you grounded and real," she said. " Don't be a prima donna. The key to acting, as Roy Kinnear said, is: "Learn your lines, don't trip over the furniture, then get off.'"

Beatrice continued: "I feel very privileged. I have worked with some great people. I have three wonderful children - and really that's the greatest gift."