THE life of a Gwaun cae Gurwen actress will be covered in a special documentary marking her 90th birthday.

Dame Siân Phillips’ life from her humble beginnings at the foot of the Black Mountains all the way through to her latest show It’s All Greek with Alex Jennings will be shown in Siân Phillips yn 90 on S4C this Friday.

The iconic actress said: “To be honest, it’s rather daunting thinking about looking back over a whole life! It’s been eventful to say the least!”

In the documentary, Siân recalls a life-changing visit to the theatre at the age of six, which started her down the path to stardom.

She said: “I thought, this is what I want to do, this is where I want to live, up there under the lights. I thought I was in heaven. And when I got home, I wrote in my diary; ‘I am now resolved to being an actress.’”

Siân went on to have a glittering career over the last nine decades, including roles in I, Claudius, How Green Was My Valley, Dune and Goodbye Mr Chips, but her path to success was not easy.

She also speaks candidly about her 20-year marriage to fellow actor Peter O’Toole and the tumultuous time they had before their 1979 divorce.

She said: “We loved each other deeply, but he could be very cruel.

“I was scared of being too successful all the time. I don’t know why, he [O’Toole] was very threatened by all that. There was no reason for him to be, God knows, but he was insecure.”

Following the divorce, Siân had a new lease of life jumping into acclaimed roles across the West End. In 1997, in her late sixties, Siân took on her toughest role yet as Marlene Dietrich in hit musical Marlene.

The documentary also follows Siân in rehearsals for latest show It’s All Greek with Alex Jennings and her drive to keep working is shown. She said: “I love the theatre. No matter how badly your day’s going, when you come to the theatre and hear the orchestra, you feel on top of the world. It’s like being home.”

Also in the documentary, we hear from a range of famous faces who pay tribute to Siân including Sir Derek Jacobi, Matthew Rhys, Dame Penelope Wilton, Dame Eileen Atkins, Rakie Ayola, Nigel Havers and Daniel Evans.

Sir Derek Jacobi, who starred alongside Siân in I, Claudius, said: “Dame Siân Phillips, she’s up there with all our leading actresses. She has beauty, she has talent. She has huge charisma and is one of those actresses in whose company you are very happy to be.”

Dame Eileen Atkins says: “Behind a lot of huge glamourous success stories is a hard, hard worker. No-one works harder than Siân. Siân Phillips the actress was made in Wales.”

Sian Phillips yn 90 will be on S4C at 9pm on Friday, December 29. It will also be available on S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer. It is a Rondo Media production for S4C in association with BBC Cymru Wales.