Day 6

'We bloom year after year': Mary Walsh's Mrs. Eulalia returns with new tips for aging

Legendary Canadian comedian Mary Walsh stars as octogenarian Mrs. Eulalia, alongside Cathy Jones as Mrs. Enid, in CBC Gem's Broad Appeal: Living With E's.

'When you get to be older, you get to become the subject of your own life'

Cathy Jones and Mary Walsh star as beloved characters Mrs. Enid and Mrs. Eulalia, respectively, who travel across Canada to dish out advice in person in Season 2 of Broad Appeal. (CBC)

These days Mary Walsh says she doesn't spend as much time in the makeup chair when getting ready to play Mrs. Eulalia, one half of Broad Appeal's octogenarian duo.

And like her character, the Canadian comedy icon, who turns 69 in May, says life is only getting better as she ages.

"I'm happier, mostly, than I've ever been. I'm more hopeful," she told Day 6 host Brent Bambury.

"As you get older, you know, you become much more all right with yourself — and it is yourself that you're spending all that time with, isn't it?" 

In the short-form comedy series, Walsh offers viewers "pre-posthumous lifestyle advice" alongside long-time comedy partner Cathy Jones, who plays Mrs. Enid. Season 2, which was recently released on CBC Gem, follows the two Mrs. Es as they make the most of their later years during a cross-Canada train journey.

WATCH: Broad Appeal Season 2 trailer, starring Mary Walsh and Cathy Jones

"It's time that people remembered that just because we're not millennials doesn't mean that we're not interesting. We're perennials!" says Mrs. Enid, somewhere between Halifax and Toronto, in the season's first episode.

"Yes, oh my God. We bloom year after year as bold and beautiful as ever!" adds Mrs. Eulalia.

Walsh has long played women characters beyond her years, including on CBC-TV's This Hour Has 22 Minutes, so it's perhaps no surprise that Mrs. Eulalia, and her wisdom, come so naturally to the Newfoundlander. 

But don't assume that authenticity changes how Walsh feels about her own age.

"When I stop playing Mrs. Eulalia, I feel quite young and vibrant," she said. "When I take off Mrs. Eulalia's coat, it's like, oh, 20 years has dropped from me."

Levity during the pandemic

The newest season of Broad Appeal was filmed before COVID-19 put the entertainment industry on hold.

But last spring, Walsh and Jones teamed up to record a series of videos in which Mrs. Eulalia and Mrs. Enid reflect on the impact of pandemic.

The videos aimed to offer a break from creeping pandemic anxiety, particularly among older Canadians, said Walsh.

"For a minute there, it seemed like it was going to be really good to be old. And then all of a sudden it was like we had a target on our backs," she explained, pointing to the fact COVID-19 has disproportionately hospitalized or killed Canadian seniors.

WATCH: Mrs. E's talk about the COVID-19 pandemic

But for the comedian, the pandemic has offered a respite, of sorts, from the bustle of daily life. Thanks to physical distancing measures, no longer did she have to worry about "FOMO" — the fear of missing out.

It's an admission she says may sound strange after a challenging year.

"I kind of felt like, 'Oh, we're all in this together,' and nobody is at a party," she said. "There was a level of anxiety that exists within me all the time, so the pandemic reduced that a bit, weirdly enough."

"So many things got a little bit better for me."

"When I stop playing Mrs. Eulalia, I feel quite young and vibrant," says Walsh. (Lisa MacIntosh Photography)

Mrs. Eulalia's pearls of wisdom

When asked to offer some of Mrs. Eulalia's wisdom on aging, Walsh reaffirmed the idea that you can be more in control of their own narrative than you might think.

"As women, and as young women particularly — which is why I always wanted to play older women — you're always trying to be the object of somebody else's desire, and you don't even know what they desire," she said.

"You're always trying to twist yourself into something, and finally, when you get to be older, you get to become the subject of your own life."

She also reflected on her younger self.

"There was a period where ... if somebody came over to fix the plumbing, I'd go: 'Is that him? Is that who I'm going to be with?'" said Walsh.

"It's so relaxing, not doing that anymore."

Written by Jason Vermes. Produced by Pedro Sanchez.

Hear full episodes of Day 6 on CBC Listen, our free audio streaming service.

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