Joanna Lumley has courted controversy by suggesting that women should take it as a compliment if somebody wolf-whistles at them in the street.

In a new interview with the Daily Mirror, the ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ actress said that the recent proposal by Nottinghamshire Police to make wolf-whistling a hate crime was a sign that people had become “sensitive flowers” who were “very offended by everything”.

The 70 old star and occasional campaigner said: “How can wolf-whistling be offensive to women? It’s a compliment. They’re saying ‘Cor you look all right, darlin.’ What’s wrong with that?”

Joanna LumleyJoanna Lumley thinks that modern women are too sensitive and easily offended

Lumley, who has spearheaded a great many charitable causes and championed issues ranging from Gurkha veterans to the life chances of disadvantaged children, was responding to a question about casual sexism and ‘pet names’ women were called by boyfriends that they didn’t like.

By way of comparison, Lumley said that when she started her career in modelling back in the 1960s, she claimed that photographers and other people in the industry made much harsher and more explicit comments.

More: Real-life Eddie and Patsy ejected from ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’ screening for laughing too loud

“When I was modelling photographers were much ruder, they’d say ‘You look frightful, what’s the matter with you?’ ‘You look podgy, you look fat as a pig’. It was good-natured banter, you kind of got on with it, it didn’t upset you.”

“We were tougher in those days. You knew someone would whistle in the street and you weren’t insulted.”

Lumley and sometime comedy partner, Jennifer Saunders, hit the big screen this summer as they brought back their iconic ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ characters, Eddie and Patsy, for a movie adaptation that scored a massive box-office opening weekend back in June.

More: Has ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’ lived up to its name?