Helena Bonham Carter was stunned when she was offered the role of Miss Havisham in a film adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations because she was too young to play the bitter spinster.

The star had reservations when she was approached by the film's director, Mike Newell, but he managed to persuade her she was the perfect actress for the part.

Bonham Carter tells the Bbc, "My first reaction was, 'Am I that old?'... (Newell) said if you go back to the the book and work out the mathematics she is only 56. I said 'Yeah but I'm 45', and he said it spans from age 27 to 56 - and I thought what an original idea."