Polly James

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Polly James
Born (1941-07-08) 8 July 1941 (age 73)
Blackburn, Lancashire, England
Years active 1966–2001
Spouse(s) Clive Francis

Polly James (born 8 July 1941) born as Pauline Devaney, is an English actress with a career in theatre, film, television and radio spanning nearly 50 years. She has worked extensively with leading directors including John Schlesinger and Peter Brook.

Born in Blackburn, Lancashire, after graduating from RADA, her TV career began in BBC2's Thirty-Minute Theatre, followed by the role of a drug addict in Z-Cars in 1967. She played Audrey Hargreaves in Coronation Street in 1967.

She is best known for her role as Beryl Hennessey in the first four series of the British sitcom The Liver Birds (1969–74), with Nerys Hughes (from the second series onwards). The series had started in April 1969 as an episode of Comedy Playhouse, the BBC's breeding ground for sitcoms. She played Cicely Courtneidge in the biographical musical of the actress Once More with Music in 1976, appeared as a soubrette in Alan Clarke's 1982 production of Baal, and in Doctor Who in 1984. She appeared, too, in the West End musicals, I and Albert and Anne of Green Gables. In 1971 Polly James appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company in The Merchant of Venice with Judi Dench

In conjunction with her acting career, James developed her directing and teaching skills both in the London theatre and in drama-based development workshops with the Skyros community.

Television Roles[edit]


Year Title Role
1969 to 1974 The Liver Birds Beryl Hennessey
1996 The Liver Birds Beryl Fenning née Hennessey


Year Title Role
2000 to 2001 The Worst Witch Miss Lavinia Crotchet

External links[edit]