Many stars have walked the stage of the Churchill Theatre over the years but few who have shined quite as brightly as the glamourous soon-to-be grandma JOAN COLLINS.

Reporter Melanie Wallington went to talk to the actress about her new role in Full Circle and about how she can look so good so early in the morning ...

IT is 10am on Monday morning and, after a weekend of late nights on the town, I am blurry-eyed and bloated when I take my place at Joan Collins' London Palladium press conference.

Collins on the other hand looks as vibrant and glamorous as her reputation suggests even close up.

Her tiny frame is tucked into a red leather skirt-suit and she is sporting a full face of expertly-applied slap.

At 70, the doyen of Dynasty is the same age as my grandma, but her vivacity puts me and most of the other women in the room to shame.

We are here to talk about her latest role in the Churchill Theatre's production of Full Circle, a comedy by Alan Melville.

The play follows the exploits of best-selling novelist Denise Darvel, who admits to her children the good-looking man in the mantlepiece portrait is not actually their father.

With four failed marriages behind her and a string of successful novels, the parallels between the star and her charactre are hard to ignore. Collins is currently married to Percy Gibson, a man more than 30 years her junior and Full Circle's company manager.

So what has Collins learnt about men through the years and what are her tips for a lasting relationship?

"Some of them are wonderful and some of them are horrible," she said. "You can't generalise about men, just like you can't generalise about people.

"Just being each other's best friend, sharing everything, being someone's partner and being compassionate. I think friendship is incredibly important. My husband and I started off as friends."

The couple are celebrating their second anniversary this month. They have recently bought the rights to a novel together and are planning to jet off to LA the following day for meetings about making it into a film.

Collins says she is looking forward to working with Percy on this latest project and celebrating their anniversary together.

She said: "This will be the third time Percy and I have worked together and we get along brilliantly.

"For our anniversary my daughter is coming up from Somerset to stay and we might have a quiet dinner together, but Percy will be working very hard."

Collins said she has been looking for the right play for years. Rehearsals begin on February 16 and she stresses she is really looking forward to the role, despite its demands.

"I think comedy is more difficult than drama because you want to get something back from the audience," she said.

"I am used to all of them film TV and the stage. On stage you have to keep it fresh constantly but with TV and film you only have to keep it fresh for five takes or whatever it is.

"I came into this business to be a stage actor and that is what I did."

When asked whom she admires, Collins said she was particularly impressed with Princess Diana ("A fantastic woman and very caring") and would love to act alongside Robert De Niro ("but I'm sure I never will!") But this is a comic play so who makes her laugh?

"Lord Brocket made me laugh. He is quite funny. I wouldn't go into the jungle though, not me, not for zillions of pounds," she laughed.

Collins certainly looks and sounds too high-maintenance for jungle living. She arrived at the Palladium in a blue Mercedes wearing dark glasses. I had thought she was going to be a right stroppy character.

Amazingly she says she often shops at Waitrose and M&S and does not have any dressing rooms redecorated ("I'm not Beyonce.") The conversation turns inevitably to her looks. "Just how do you do it?", one of us bedraggled hacks begged.

"I don't worry about it very much," she said nonchalantly. "I think I am quite diligent about eating good food, the right food. My mother insisted I ate broccoli and not too many sweets. I work out three times a week when I'm in London and I believe in taking care of my skin."

With tens of film, TV and writing credits to her legendary name, including her forthcoming novel, Misfortune's Daughters, and the possibility of a diary of experiences from the Full Circle tour ("I'm a Gemini. I'm multi-faceted."), what has given Collins the most professional pride?

"I'm most proud of having kept a career going. My father told me it would all be over by the time I was 25. I think I am most proud of being a survivor and being able to do these terrific plays with this wonderful director and wonderful production company."

Collins has had some hard times in her life, living with a spouse's drug abuse, coping with infidelity, and surviving near bankruptcy, but she still manages to look great and sound positive. I think it may be broccoli for tea tonight!

You can see Joan Collins in Full Circle, Churchill Theatre, High Street, Bromley, Mar 11-20, 7.45pm, Thur & Sat mat 2.30pm, £18.50-£26, 0870 060 6620