Julie Walters is worried that acting is becoming a profession only open to the wealthy.

The 'Paddington' star is concerned that young people in Britain who may be interested in pursuing a thespian career are being put off because they can't afford to put themselves through drama school.

If the trend continues, Walters - who was able to get funding to study drama in the late 60s and honed her craft at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, England, in the 70s - thinks the art will ultimately suffer.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper, she said: ''Now the theatre is dying out, where do kids start out? They have to pay a lot to go to drama school, then hope they get straight into television or film. But working class kids can't afford that. I was lucky - I had a grant. You can't get a grant to go to drama school now. Soon the only actors are going to be privileged kids whose parents can afford to send them to drama school. That's not right. It feels like we are going backwards.''

The 64-year-old actress has had an incredible TV and film career which has spanned five decades and seen her win several awards, including two BAFTAs.

And Walters - who is married to Grant Roffey - insists she has no intention of retiring because she still gets offered so many wonderful parts.

She said: ''The desire is still there. I don't want to retire ... I did take a year off and I thought, 'You know what, I'm quite happy. Then a script came in and I thought, 'Oh my God, I've got to do this.' ''