Helen Mirren tells The One Show’s Alex Scott she’s sick of being branded as ‘feisty’

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Hollie Richardson
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Helen Mirren on being feisty

Helen Mirren has called out a TV presenter for calling her “fesity” because she finds the term sexist and insulting.

With over 50 years in the entertainment industry, Helen Mirren has endured her fair share of interviews. During that time, she’s called out the questions that she’s had enough of answering. 

Earlier this year, the actor revealed that she is sick and tired of being asked about her ‘beauty secrets’. And she famously shut down Michael Parkinson when he condescended her for being “in quotes, a serious actress” on his television show in 1975.

Now, she’s called out another TV host for using a word that she finds sexist and “insulting”.

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Mirren, who is currently promoting her new drama series Catherine the Great, appeared on The One Show on Wednesday (30 October). During the interview, presenter Alex Scott said she admired the Oscar-winning actor for all the “strong, feisty women” she had played.

Mirren quickly responded saying: “I have to say I don’t like the word feisty. I don’t know why. I think it’s because it’s always related to women.

“They never say feisty man, kid maybe, but I find it slightly insulting, I don’t know why. I want to find another word.”

Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great
Helen Mirren is currently starring in Catherine the Great.

This isn’t the first time that Mirren has called out the word “feisty”.

In an interview with The Times in 2015, the actor said that she believes branding a woman “sassy” is “insulting”.  

“Only women are feisty,” she said. “It just makes me gag. We need new words for female power and funniness and smartness.”

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And Mirren makes a very fair point, as ‘feisty’ appears on a list of 20 words deemed sexist by 2000 surveyed women. 

Conducted as part of Special K’s Strength Is… campaign in 2016, the research showed 20 sexist terms that women banned from everyday vocabulary

Here’s the full list:

1. Hormonal - 68%

2. Drama Queen - 56%

3. Bitchy - 53%

4. High Maintenance - 51%

5. Hysterical - 50%

6. Ball Breaker - 49%

7. Diva - 48%

8. Highly Strung - 46%

9. Mumsy - 42%

10. Princess - 40%

11. Attention Seeking - 35%

12. Emotional - 31%

13. Manipulative - 28%

14. Bossy - 27%

15. Controlling - 25%

16. Difficult - 21%

17. Sexy - 20%

18. Aggressive - 19%

19. Sassy - 16%

20. Feisty – 14%

Keen to redress the balance, 72% of women from the same survey added that they would like to see more often women described ‘confident’, or ‘resilient’, and ‘courageous’ – just as their male counterparts would be. 

Is that really too much for women – including Mirren – to ask for in 2019?

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Images: Getty


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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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