Rada-trained Carol was nicknamed the Seventh Python after appearing in 30 of the 45 episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, between 1969 and 1974, as well as in all four of their films.
Once voted the third most beautiful entertainer of 1972, former Playboy bunny Carol starred in several other movies and TV shows.
The divorcee enjoyed her milestone birthday on Thursday, and also featured on Channel 4’s First Dates series in the same week.
Afterwards, she said: “I don’t look or feel 80 – or behave like I am.
“But I’m worried that I’m becoming very forgetful. That’s a concern for me. So I’ve decided to retire.
“I haven’t had an agent for a while but I was planning to find a new one to get me work as a character actor and take me beyond the Python image. But recently I’ve been thinking, ‘Do I have the energy?’ and, because I’m beginning to lose my memory, I’ve had to also think, ‘If I’m given a big script could I actually learn it?’ I decided that maybe I couldn’t. I can’t take that chance when I’m getting so forgetful.
“I thought, ‘I’ve had a good run, a good career and made a name for myself. Let’s bow out now while people have nice memories of my work. It’s time to call it a day’.”
Carol last acted a week before lockdown in the independent film Alice, Through The Looking – which also stars Vanessa Redgrave and Steven Berkoff.
She had planned to celebrate her 80th with a big party near her home in West Sussex but she decided to postpone it until June due to the pandemic.
On her birthday she was taken out to lunch by a platonic friend named Roger, “who I feel very lucky to have in my life”.
She adds: “On First Dates, I was introduced to a lovely man named Keith. We’ve stayed in touch but there’s not much hope of romance as he lives in Nottingham which is a long way from me and we didn’t have a lot in common. He admitted he’d never watched Monty Python.”
The only member of the Python team with whom Carol remains in contact is renowned writer and travel presenter Sir Michael Palin, 78.
She admits: “I wouldn’t expect to hear from John (Cleese) or Eric (Idle) as they’re in America but I might hear from Michael.
“I always give Michael a call when I remember his birthday.”
Asked what her dream birthday gift would be, Carol replies: “To have my memory back.”