Pauline Collins

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Pauline Collins
Pauline Collins in November 2012.jpg
Pauline Collins in November 2012
Born (1940-09-03) 3 September 1940 (age 73)
Exmouth, Devon, England, UK
Occupation Actress
Years active 1963–present
Spouse(s) John Alderton (1969–present)
Children 3

Pauline Collins, OBE (born 3 September 1940) is an English actress of the stage, television, and film. She first came to prominence portraying Sarah Moffat in Upstairs, Downstairs and its spin-off Thomas & Sarah during the 1970s. She later drew acclaim for playing the title role in the play Shirley Valentine for which she received Laurence Olivier, Tony, and Drama Desk awards. She reprised the role in a 1989 film adaptation, winning a BAFTA and garnering Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations.

Early life and career[edit]

Collins was born in Exmouth, Devon, the daughter of Mary Honora (née Callanan), a schoolteacher, and William Henry Collins.[1] She is of Irish extraction, and was brought up as a Roman Catholic near Liverpool.[2] Collins was educated at Sacred Heart High School.[3] and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Before turning to acting, she worked as a teacher until 1962. She made her stage debut at Windsor in A Gazelle in Park Lane in 1962 and her West End debut in Passion Flower Hotel in 1965, (during this run, very hurriedly, her first film Secrets of a Windmill Girl -1966). More stage roles followed.

Collins played Samantha Briggs in the 1967 Doctor Who serial The Faceless Ones and was offered the chance to continue in the series as a new companion for the Doctor, but declined the invitation.

Other early TV credits include the UK's first medical soap Emergency - Ward 10 (1960), and the pilot episode and first series of The Liver Birds, both in 1969.

Collins first became well known for her role as the maid Sarah in the 1970s ITV drama series Upstairs, Downstairs. The character appeared regularly throughout the first two series, the second of which also starred her actor husband, John Alderton, with whom she later starred in a spin-off, Thomas & Sarah (1979), and the sitcom No, Honestly written by Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham, as well as in a series of short story adaptations called Wodehouse Playhouse (1975–78). She co-narrated the animated British children's TV series Little Miss with husband John Alderton in 1983.

In connection with her Upstairs, Downstairs role, Collins recorded a 1973 single for Decca: What Are We Going to Do with Uncle Arthur? (performed by her character several times during the series) b/w With Every Passing Day (a vocal version of the show's theme).[4]

Shirley Valentine and recent years[edit]

In 1988, Collins starred in the one-woman play Shirley Valentine in London, reprising the role on Broadway in 1989 and in the 1989 film version. The film won a number of awards, which are outlined below.

After Shirley Valentine, Collins again starred alongside her husband in the popular ITV drama series Forever Green created and written by Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham in which the fictitious couple escape the city with their children to start a new life in the country. It ran from 1989 to 1992 over 18 episodes.

Collins' film credits include City of Joy (1992, co-starring Patrick Swayze), My Mother's Courage (1995 in Germany as Mutters Courage, released in the USA in 1997), Paradise Road (1997, with Glenn Close and Cate Blanchett), and Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War (2002), another appearance with Alderton. In 1999 and 2000, Collins starred as Harriet Smith in the BBC television drama Ambassador, where she played the lead role of the British ambassador to Ireland. Other television credits include The Saint, The Wednesday Play, Armchair Theatre, Play for Today, Tales of the Unexpected, Country Matters and The Black Tower.

In 2002, she guest starred in Man and Boy, the dramatisation of Tony Parsons' best-seller. In 2005 she appeared as Miss Flite in the BBC production of Charles Dickens' Bleak House.

In 2006, she became only the third actor to have been in both the original and new series of Doctor Who, appearing in the episode "Tooth and Claw" as Queen Victoria.

Later in 2006, she appeared in Extinct, a programme where eight celebrities campaigned on behalf of an animal to save it from extinction. Collins campaigned to save the Bengal tiger and won the public vote.

In December 2007, she appeared as the fairy godmother in the pantomime, Cinderella, at the Old Vic in London

Collins was awarded the OBE in 2001.

Personal life[edit]

She married actor John Alderton in 1969 and lives in Hampstead, London, with her husband and their three children, Nicholas, Kate and Richard. She also has an older daughter with actor Tony Rohr, Louise, whom she gave up for adoption. They were reunited when Louise was 22 years old, and Collins wrote a book, Letter to Louise, about her experiences.


Title Year Role Notes
Doctor Who 1967 Samantha Briggs
Liver Birds, TheThe Liver Birds 1969 Dawn
Upstairs, Downstairs 1971 Sarah Moffat
No, Honestly 1974 Clara Danby
Wodehouse Playhouse 1975 various
Thomas & Sarah 1979 Sarah Moffat
Tales of the Unexpected 1980 Pat Lewis
  • Episode "A Girl Can't Always Have Everything"
Tales of the Unexpected 1988 Eve K. Hamilton-Peregrine
  • Episode "The Colonel's Lady"
Forever Green 1989 Harriet Boult
Shirley Valentine 1989 Shirley Valentine-Bradshaw
  • Oscar Nominee, BAFTA Winner, Golden Globe nominee
City of Joy 1992 Joan Bethel
Paradise Road 1997 Daisy 'Margaret' Drummond
Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War 2002 Thelma Calicot
Sparkling Cyanide 2003 Catherine Kendall
Bleak House 2005 Maud Havisham Flite
  • 10 episodes
Doctor Who 2006 Queen Victoria
From Time to Time 2009 Mrs. Tweedie
Agatha Christie's Marple 2010 Thyrza Grey
Merlin 2010 Alice[5]
Albert Nobbs 2011 Mrs. Baker
Quartet 2012 Cissy

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Pauline, Collins. (28 March 1999). "Pauline Collins - My secret for a good marriage? Give", Interviewed by Sharon Feinstein, Sunday Mirror. Retrieved on 13 May 2010. "But I was very worried about taking it on because I'm not Jewish. I'm a Liverpool Irish Catholic and this role was such a responsibility because it involved a huge and emotive part of the history of the Jewish race."
  3. ^ Retrieved 9 January 2013
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Merlin - Alice played by Pauline Collins", BBC, Retrieved 6 November 2010

External links[edit]