Carmen Munroe

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Carmen Munroe
Born Carmen Steele
(1932-11-12) 12 November 1932 (age 81)
Berbice, Guyana
Occupation television actor, film actor, writer

Carmen Munroe OBE (born 12 November 1932) is a British actress who was born in Berbice, Guyana, and has been a resident of the UK since the early 1950s. She made her West End stage debut in 1962 and has played an instrumental role in the development of black British theatre and representation on small screen. She has had high-profile roles on television in The Fosters (1976–77), Mixed Blessings (1978–80), both on ITV, and on stage in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, Alice Childress's Trouble in Mind and James Baldwin's The Amen Corner.

She is however best known for her role as Shirley, the wife of eponymous barber Desmond Ambrose, played by Norman Beaton, in the British TV sitcom Desmond's (1989 to 1994), written by Trix Worrell.

Munroe's other roles include a part in the 1967 Doctor Who story The Enemy of the World; a part in General Hospital; and she was for a time a presenter of Play School as well as the BBC's lunchtime children's programme How Do You Do.

She is one of the founders of Talawa, the UK's leading black theatre company, which she established in 1985 together with Mona Hammond, Inigo Espegel and Yvonne Brewster.[1]

In 2005/06 Munroe acted in a series of three African-American plays at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn. The plays were Walk Hard, written by Abram Hill and directed by Nicholas Kent, followed by Gem of the Ocean, written by August Wilson and directed by Paulette Randall, where Munroe acted in the role of Aunt Esther Tyler, and finally Lynn Nottage's Fabulation, directed by Indhu Rubasingham. Most recently, she acted in Allister Bain's play Catalysta, directed by Robert Icke, receiving rave reviews for her performance as Eartha. In 2013, Munroe appeared in the CBBC children's comedy/drama show The Dumping Ground (sequel to Tracy Beaker Returns) as Gina's mother Hattie.

Further reading[edit]

  • Carole Woddis, Sheer Bloody Magic – Conversations With Actresses (London: Virago, 1991).

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