1 May 1937 |
Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England, UK
|Years active||Since 1956|
Una Stubbs (born 1 May 1937) is an English television, stage, occasional film actress and former dancer who has appeared on British television and in the theatre, and less frequently in films. She is particularly known for playing Rita in the sitcom Till Death Us Do Part and Aunt Sally in the children's series Worzel Gummidge. She is also known for her role as Miss Bat in the series The Worst Witch and has most recently appeared as Sherlock Holmes's landlady Mrs Hudson in the Bafta award-winning television series Sherlock.
In the mid 1950s, Stubbs was the 'cover girl' of Dairy Box chocolates, produced by Rowntrees of York. She referred to herself as the 'Rowntrees Chocolate Girl', when describing a visit she made to the Rowntrees factory in York (where, unknown to her, her grandfather had worked).
She first appeared on television as one of the Dougie Squires Dancers on the British television music show Cool for Cats in 1956. She also worked in cabaret, clubs and revues in London during these years and was one of Lionel Blair's dance ensemble.
Her first major screen role was in Cliff Richard's 1963 film, Summer Holiday. She also appeared in Richard's next film, Wonderful Life (1964). A few years later, she made her breakthrough in television comedy, playing Rita, the married daughter of Alf Garnett in the controversial BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part (1966–75). She also appeared in the short-lived sitcom Till Death... (1981), again playing Rita. She played Rita a third time in a few episodes of the BBC sitcom In Sickness and in Health (1985–92). During 1970-72, Stubbs teamed again with Cliff Richard to appear each week on his BBC1 TV Series, It's Cliff Richard!. When she was absent from the show because of her pregnancy, her TV 'mother', Dandy Nichols from Till Death..., appeared in her place on several editions.
Stubbs featured in the Fawlty Towers episode "The Anniversary" in 1979. From 1979 to 1981, she played Aunt Sally in the ITV children's series Worzel Gummidge opposite Jon Pertwee and Barbara Windsor and was for several years a team captain in the weekly game show Give Us a Clue in the 1980s, reuniting her with Lionel Blair, the other team captain.
She has appeared in shows such as Midsomer Murders, Heartbeat, Casualty, Keeping Up Appearances, Born and Bred and The Worst Witch. In recent years, Stubbs has also appeared in Victoria Wood's We'd Quite Like to Apologise, The Catherine Tate Show, Agatha Christie's Marple, EastEnders, Benidorm and, since 2010, Sherlock as Mrs. Hudson.
Stubbs appeared on the West End stage in Noël Coward's Star Quality with Penelope Keith in 2001 and Friedrich Schiller's Don Carlos with Derek Jacobi in 2005. In recent years she has appeared in La Cage Aux Folles at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Pygmalion at the Theatre Royal, Bath and Old Vic and The Family Reunion at the Donmar Warehouse. She was in the original cast of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National Theatre in 2012.
Stubbs was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. She was married to the actor Peter Gilmore from 1958 to 1969: they adopted a son, Jason. After their divorce in 1969, she married actor Nicky Henson. They divorced in 1975 but remain good friends. She and Henson had two children: composer Christian Henson (born 25 December 1971), and musician-composer Joe Henson (born 18 September 1973). For many years, Stubbs has sketched vignettes of characters around London, and has held exhibitions of these near her Mayfair home.
Stubbs has known her Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch since he was four years old, as she had worked with his mother Wanda Ventham. Stubbs was the subject of an episode of the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are?, broadcast on 24 July 2013. It discussed several of her ancestors, including her great-grandfather Sir Ebenezer Howard, who was instrumental in the new town movement and in the design and implementation of the first new towns in Hertfordshire, Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City.
Television shows and films
Only the entries for 1963, 1964, 1965 and 2009 are feature films
- Summer Holiday as Sandy (1963)
- The Bargee as Bridesmaid (1964)
- Wonderful Life as Barbara (1964)
- Three Hats for Lisa (1965)
- Mister Ten Per Cent (1967)
- Till Death Us Do Part as Rita (28 episodes, 1966–74)
- Till Death Us Do Part as Rita (1969)
- Fawlty Towers as Alice (in the episode The Anniversary, 1979)
- Worzel Gummidge as Aunt Sally (21 episodes, 1979–81)
- Till Death... as Rita (6 episodes, 1981)
- In Sickness and in Health as Rita (9 episodes, 1985–86)
- Worzel Gummidge Down Under as Aunt Sally (11 episodes, 1987–89)
- Keeping Up Appearances as Mrs. Moody (in the episode The Padgent, 1995)
- Delta Wave as Gilly Pigeon (4 episodes, 1996)
- The Worst Witch as Miss Bat (25 episodes, 1998–2000)
- The Catherine Tate Show as Carole-Ann & Ursula (2 episodes, 2005)
- EastEnders as Caroline Bishop (6 episodes, 2006)
- Agatha Christie's Marple : Sleeping Murder as Edith Pagett (2006)
- Mist: The Tale of a Sheepdog Puppy as Fern (23 episodes, 2007–09)
- Benidorm guesting as Diana Weedon (Season 3 Episode 5, 2009)
- Ingenious as Gransha (2009)
- Sherlock as Mrs Hudson (6 episodes, 2010–)
- Who Do You Think You Are? as Herself (Series 10, Episode 1)
- Starlings (Series 2, 2013)
- Coming Up: Sink Or Swim as Cynthia (2013)
- Who Do You Think You Are?, "Una Stubbs", Director Mary Cranitch, Producer Colette Flight, BBC, 2013, approx 26 minutes
- Stubbs to join ex-husband in soap BBC News 23 May 2006
- Stubbs at Panter & Hall gallery
- Q & A With Una Stubbs: The Joy of Victoria Sponges + Getting Sherlock Holmes to Eat
- "Una Stubbs". Who Do You Think You Are?. Series 10. Episode 1. 2013-07-24. BBC Television. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b037lfg6. Retrieved 2013-07-24.