Tuesday 23 February 2016

Avril Elgar

Avril Elgar

April 1 1932 - Sept 17 2021

A splendidly severe-looking actress, yet impressively versatile, sympathetic and  compelling. Her long career encompasses roles as varied as society ladies and exhausted servants, via a slew of nouveau riche harridans, cruel nurses, shy spinsters and nosy neighbours.     

In 'Ladies Who Do' (1963)
Although Imdb suggests that she is best known for three feature films, 'Room At The Top (1959), 'Betrayal' (1983) and 'Wilde' (1997), her contribution to these is worthy but minimally memorable. Better perhaps to remember her turn in 'Spring And Port Wine' (1969) as Mrs Duckworth next door, or even the slightly strained comedy 'Ladies Who Do' (1963) in which, with fellow City office cleaning ladies Peggy Mount, Miriam Carlin and Dandy Nicholls, she indulges in some lucrative insider dealing. She's also briefly in 'The Medusa Touch' (1978) with a cursed Richard Burton.

The Ken Russell-directed silent movie version of 'Diary Of A Nobody' made for the BBC's 'Monitor' arts programme in 1964, which saw her play Mrs Pooter in a great cast that also included Bryan Pringle, Murray Melvin, Jonathan Cecil and Brian Murphy. It also has a harmonium score by Ivor Cutler.    

As Lou Evans in the Nina Bawden adaptation 'Carrie's War'
a major BBC family drama success of 1974.
Publicity shot for 'The Three Sisters' with George Cole.
She's a highly respected stage actress with previous at the National Theatre, and a successful and widely publicised 1967 run of Chekhov's 'Three Sisters' at the Royal Court Theatre with Glenda Jackson and Marianne Faithfull. But it's probably in television that she's most familiar. Sitcom fans will immediately spot her as Yootha Joyce's social-climbing sister Ethel in the popular 'Man about The House' spin-off, 'George & Mildred'. She had a slightly similar role in one of Roy Clarke's gentle Northern comedies, 'Rosie', as the young copper's monstrously overbearing mother.  

In George & Mildred' as the social climbing Ethel with wealthy hubby
Humphrey, played by king of the sitcom bosses, the late Reginald Marsh.

Other television includes 'Campion', 'Agatha Christie: Poirot', 'Midsomer Murders', 'A Taste For Death', 'Shoestring', two episodes of 'Tales Of The Unexpected', 'Minder', 'New Tricks' and a good few more. Quite revealing as to her range is the fact that she has appeared in three episodes of 'Doctors' as three very different characters between 2004 and 2011. Sterling work.  

Trivia note: After 20 years, Avril Elgar appeared in 'The Moles', an episode of 'Tales Of The Unexpected', alongside Harry H Corbett, her co-star in the film 'Ladies Who Do'. It was to be his last role and was screened a month after his death in 1982.    

Avril Elgar-imdb


  1. She was brilliant ingeorge and Mildred trying to find an interview with her

  2. I looked her up after seeing her in Ladies Who Do on the excellent Talking Pictures TV yesterday. It's currently my tv station of choice, and when I put the telly on tonight there she was again in an episode of Public Eye!

    I seem to be attracted to women with unconventional looks (with the occasional exception such as Valerie Hobson who was undeniably beautiful), and I find Avril Elgar's face pleasing to the eye, and the shape of her mouth a thing of wonder.