Joanna Lumley has revealed she had no problems with the "ghastly look" of her latest thoroughly unpleasant TV character.

The Ab Fab star plays the glacial Lady Maria Byrne in new ITV drama The Making Of A Lady.

As the snobbish aunt of wealthy widower Lord James Walderhurst (played by Linus Roache), she is appalled when her nephew decides to propose to her maid.

"The most sympathetic thing that you could say about Lady Maria Byrne is that she probably wasn't loved as a child," said Joanna. "That might explain why she has absolutely no affection for anybody else and never has had."

The normally glamorous actress was happy to have her face powdered with a flour-like substance to get the right look for her character.

"Lady Byrne has grey hair and indistinguishable features. She's at that age where a little bit of rouge and lipstick and mascara would help her enormously. But, in those days, if you even touched make up you were considered a trollop.

"So, what you might have done is used a swan's down puff, dabbed it in something pretty akin to flour and dabbed it on your face. You'd have blotted out all your features in the process. It's a really ghastly look and one we totally embraced for Lady Byrne," she laughed.

Joanna said as an actress you cannot be either self-conscious or vain if you want to win decent parts, so she has never had a problem with "ugly roles".

"And, anyway, " she added, with a laugh, "after playing someone like Delilah Stagg with her woolly hat, buck teeth and glasses in Jam And Jerusalem or Aunt Spiker (from James And The Giant Peach), terrible teeth again and the kind of Halloween face that would frighten children, Lady Maria Byrne seems positively beautiful."

:: The Making Of A Lady is on ITV1 tonight (December 16).