Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Rachel Bell

Rachel Bell

Rachel Bell:  

John Sullivan's '80s lonely-hearts sitcom 'Dear John' had a pleasingly melancholy undertow that makes it more appealing - to me, anyway - than his poll-winning national treasure, 'Only Fools And Horses'. A lot of that can be put down to the downbeat performance of Ralph Bates, previously best known for playing dashing Hammer Horror leading men, but also to a strong ensemble cast. The encounter groups were led by the fearsomely helpful Louise, played strongly by Rachel Bell as a self-help dragon spouting lurid Freudian analysis and trite '80s motivational claptrap.       

Under tough questioning in a 'Crown Court' episode from 1978
With Ronnie Barker in 'The Magnificent Evans' 
Before 'Dear John' in 1987, a number of television productions had featured her talents, among them 'Disraeli' with Ian McShane, 'The Magnificent Evans', 'Alas Smith & Jones', 'Miss Marple', a couple of 'Play For Today' dramas, and the 'Only Fools...' episode 'To Hull And Back'. She was also a regular in a spoof chat show on the newly-created Channel 4 called 'For 4 Tonight', written by  a pre-fame Ruby Wax and directed by a post-fame Mickey Dolenz. Sounds interesting, maybe, but I can't find any archive video.      

The latter '80s and early '90s included some situation comedies: 'Home To Roost', The Upper Hand',  'Last Of The Summer Wine'; some drama 'We'll Meet Again', 'Goodbye Cruel World', and the very odd 'Doctor Who' story 'The Happiness Patrol', before she landed another plum role, as the snooty Edith Pilchester in 'The Darling Buds Of May'.        

In 'Dr Who: The Happiness Patrol'. The weird Sylvester McCoy
era story with the Bertie Bassett-esque alien, The Kandyman  

As Miss Pilchester in 'The Darling Buds Of May' 
'Grange Hill' gave her a long run as Deputy Head Mrs Holmes during its later few years, and the new millennium has brought a steady supply of work ranging from 'Chucklevision', 'Birds Of A Feather' and 'The Bill', to 'The Detectorists' and JK Rowling's low-key detective series 'Strike'.   

As a teacher in the post-Harry Potter reboot
of 'The Worst Witch' for CBBC   
She can be spotted in a few feature films: 'The Edge Of Love' (2008), 'Red Mercury' (2005), 'Mary' (2005), and 'Sweet William' (1980), and also stepped neatly into Patricia Routledge's shoes for the stage version of 'Keeping Up Appearances'  

Rachel Bell-imdb


  1. Nicely put re Dear John, I loved that show. Bell was most recently seen (by me at least) in several eps of dreary daytime soap Doctors as the mother of one of the regulars (Dr Al Haskey)

  2. nice to know about Rachel Bell. Thank you for sharing.
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