Monday, 26 May 2014

Josephine Tewson

Actress Josephine Tewson as Mrs Hawlins in 'Shelley'

Josephine Tewson:

† Feb 26 1931 – Aug 18 2022

A charming perennial of British TV comedy, Josephine Tewson is probably most easily spotted these days in the perpetual repeats of 'Keeping Up Appearances', in which she plays the sensitive and genteel Elizabeth, driven to the edge of neurotic despair by her appalling social-climbing neighbour.

In an episode of  'The Champions'

Her early career led from RADA to Bristol rep in the late '50s, where she met and married Leonard Rossiter in 1959, although they divorced in 1961. The first half of the '60s saw her in a few serials and television plays, but by the end of the decade she had carved a niche playing opposite comedians. Charlie Drake, Dick Emery, Jimmy Tarbuck, satire-period David Frost and, above all, Ronnie Barker, cast her regularly in their TV series, utilising her effortless ability to play everything from glamorous countesses to goggling charladies    

Soon to be bumped off by dashing serial killer Michael Jayston in the
Brian Clemens 'Thriller' episode, 'A Coffin for the Bride'.

The '70s and '80s saw her make her mark in sitcom-land, the better of those being the splendidly cynical 'Shelley' with Hywel Bennett, and old pal Ronnie Barker's curiously understated period piece 'Clarence'. Some of the less splendid include 'Terry & June', 'No Appointment Necessary' (something of a flop, despite starring Roy Kinnear), and the pitiful 'Odd Man Out' with John Inman as the hapless boss of a seaside rock factory. Fortunately, Hyacinth and her endless gaffes were just around the corner. The geriatric japes of 'Last of the Summer Wine' have been a more recent development, with a regular role as Miss Davenport the librarian. 

Not sure what to make of Ronnie Barker's coarse but sincere
removals man in the first episode of 'Clarence'.

There are a couple of small roles in interesting, if not particularly funny, comedy films on her CV too. She's in the now generally forgotten Cleese and Chapman effort 'The Strange Case of the End of Civilisation as We Know It' (1977), and she plays a nun of the Order of St Beryl, as Pete and Dud milk their old gag in the misfiring Holmes spoof 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' (1978).

Josephine Tewson - imdb