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Angela Lansbury returns to West End

LONDON -- British-American actress Angela Lansbury, star of “Murder, She Wrote,” is returning to London's West End for the first time in nearly 40 years — in the same theater where her mother made her debut in 1918.

Lansbury will reprise her Broadway role as clairvoyant Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit from March in her first stage performance in Britain since 1975.

“It feels like coming home. I can't believe it's been 40 years! It doesn't seem that way to me — life has been marvelous,” said the 88-year-old told a press conference on Thursday.

“I've had an extraordinarily interesting and varied career which has taken me all over the world. I've gotten to play with some of the great actors of my generation, and it's still going strong.”

She won her fifth Tony award for playing Arcati in 2009 and describes it as “the “best role I've probably ever had.”

She relishes bringing the role to the Gielgud theatre where her mother, Irish actress Moyna Macgill, first trod the boards almost a century ago.

Britain welcomed Lansbury back by making her a dame in the queen's new year's honors.

Lansbury often forgets names but otherwise wears her 88 years well, something she puts down to drinking strong tea and taking a “handful” of vitamins each day.

“I don't have any illusions about being able to repeat that (Broadway performance) but I'm going to do my best and I feel full of energy and ready to go,” she said.

Lansbury is elegant in a navy dress and simple gold necklace, but was never a screen beauty — something she now sees as a benefit.

“For those women who were lovely, were known for their beauty and so on, it is darn difficult,” she told BBC radio.

“But I was playing older parts when I was terribly young because I wasn't a big screen beauty. I am a character actress.”

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