Dame Helen Mirren has said local and community theatre needs more attention, to nurture the UK's rising stars.
The Oscar-winning actress called for more focus on those particular areas, as she was crowned best actress for her role as the Queen in Peter Morgan's play The Audience at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
"I think British theatre is pretty spectacular and amazing. I think the work that Nicholas Hytner has done at the National has really pushed the boundaries of theatre in all directions," she said on the red carpet at the Savoy Hotel in London.
The 68-year-old continued: "The area I think we really need to pay attention to is in community and local theatre. That's where the theatre artists of the future are going to be found."
" Theatre is such an important part of British history and British culture. It's something we should all be very proud of because it is genuinely recognised all over the world as the best in the world, so that's pretty extraordinary."
Helen, who saw off competition from Kristin Scott-Thomas, Billie Piper, Lesley Manville and Linda Bassett, said her heart lies with the stage despite winning praise for her big-screen roles in films such as Hitchcock, Red and Gosford Park.
"I feel wonderful. Theatre is where I started, theatre is where I'll finish probably so my heart is in British theatre really," she said.
"Every time I'm in the theatre, sometimes successfully and sometimes not so successfully, I feel like I'm back where I belong."
Helen joked about needing the bathroom as she accepted her gong, saying on stage: "I'm dying for a pee but I didn't have the five minutes to take off my Spanx."