1. - Jim Broadbent, The Avengers, 1997. In the TV series, John Steed’s M was Mother - played by a guy, Paul Whitsun-Jones. So for the film - ho! ho! - it was Father played by a woman. Except Eileen didn’t get the joke (no one got any jokes in this tawdry exercise). She preferred inheriting Alice (and her machine-gun) when Diana Rigg (the original Mrs Peel in the TV series) fled the proffered cameo.
2. - Helen Mirren, Gosford Park, 2001. Robert Altman knew which part she wanted (Maggie Smith’s aristo) but gave her the housekeeper - adding there might be some shifting about, “part-wise.” His team then apologised and told Atkins: “You’d make a better cook.”
3. - Joanna Lumley, Marple: The Body in the Library, TV, 2004. Various veteran actresses - including Eileen and Annette Crosbie, both 70 - were listed for Dolly Bantry, the friend of the new Miss Marple: Geraldine McEwan, 72. Joanna, a “die-hard Christie fan,” was a mere 58.
4. - Joanna Lumley, The Wolf of Wall Street, 2012. Aunt Emma was first offered to Atkins before passing to Lumley - as Absolutely Fabulous as ever in Martin Scorsese’s fifth vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. And nothing to do with the 1929 film with the same title - first US film, as Scorsese would tell you, to have one actor (Paul Lukas) dubbed by another (Lawford Davidson).